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F. Scott Fitzgerald's 100th Birthday
A Fitzgerald Capsule History

September 24, 1896
He's born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, as Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald. (Francis Scott Key was a distant cousin to Fitzgerald's mother, Mary "Mollie" McQuillan.)

1898 - 1908
The family wicker business owned by his father, Edward Fitzgerald, fails. Proctor & Gamble hires Edward Fitzgerald as a salesman ­ the family moves to Buffalo, then Syracuse, New York.

July 24, 1900
Zelda Sayre is born in Montgomery, Alabama.

The Fitzgeralds move back to Saint Paul ­ they live with McQuillan's mother, who supported them. Edward Fitzgerald does poorly as a wholesale grocery broker. Grandma McQuillan continues to support the family as they move from address to address in Saint Paul, never living in the same place for more than three years.

In September Fitzgerald enters Princeton, class of 1917. He's 5 feet 7 inches tall and 138 pounds, but tries out for the football team. He finds his niche with the Triangle Club, which produces a musical each year and he spends little time on his classes. His grades suffer and, as a result, one of his Princeton English professors sees him as a poor student and would never be convinced that Fitzgerald actually wrote The Great Gatsby.

In October, he leaves Princeton and joins the U.S. Army. The next year, while stationed at Camp Sheridan, near Montgomery, he meets Zelda Sayre at a dance. Other officers vie for her attention ­ some pilots fly stunts over her house until stopped by their commander.

The war ends just as Fitzgerald is about to be shipped overseas ­ a big disappointment for Scott. He's discharged from the army and hired by an advertising firm in New York. He and Zelda are engaged.

1920 - 21
Scott is not making his fortune fast enough, and so Zelda breaks their engagement. He returns to Saint Paul to rewrite This Side of Paradise. This Side of Paradise is published in March of 1921; Zelda and Scott are married in April. The book is a fast success, and the couple becomes famous. The next year, their daughter, Frances Fitzgerald ("Scottie") is born in Saint Paul.

1924 - 25
The Fitzgeralds sail to France to live; they spend the winter in Rome. The Great Gatsby is published in April of 1925; it receives good reviews, but doesn't sell well.

1925 - 30
The family spends May 1925 in Paris. In December 1926, they return to America. Zelda is obsessed with ballet and they move between Delaware and Paris, then travel to the Riviera and Algiers. They both are drinking heavily, Zelda breaks down in April and is hospitalized in Geneva, Switzerland for the rest of 1930. She's diagnosed as schizophrenic.

1931 - 33
Zelda recovers in the spring of 1931 and moves home to Montgomery, Alabama. Scott moves to Hollywood as a scriptwriter. The next year, Zelda breaks down again after the death of her father. She is admitted to Johns Hopkins and Fitzgerald moves into a house in Maryland called La Paix. He completes Tender Is the Night in 1933.

Breakdown number three for Zelda ­ she will never completely recover. Scott, who was already drinking heavily, falls into deeper despair and is in dire financial straits.

After an attempt to "cure" himself, Fitzgerald writes "The Crack-Up," a series of three essays published in Esquire. The first essay begins, "Of course all life is a process of breaking down ...." In April, Zelda enters Highland Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina. She lives there, intermittently, for the rest of her life.

In need of money, Scott asks his agent, Harold Ober, to again find him work as a Hollywood scriptwriter. In Hollywood, he falls in love with gossip/movie columnist Sheilah Graham ­ their tumultuous relationship lasts until his death.

Fitzgerald slaves over a script for Three Comrades; he receives his first screen credit for this screenplay; Scottie enters Vassar in September. In December, Scott's contract with MGM is not renewed.

Drinking heavily, Scott spent the summer working in bed, writing his first publishable stories and begins writing The Last Tycoon, a novel said to be based on the lifeof Irving Thalberg, an MGM executive who rose quickly to the top of Hollywood before dying at age thirty-seven.

In November, Fitzgerald goes back to work on The Last Tycoon. He hopes to finish the book by February, but he only completes six chapters before suffering a fatal heart attack on December 21. On December 27, he's buried in Rockville, Maryland. After dying in a fire at Highland Hospital in 1948, Zelda is buried beside him.

At the time of his death, Fitzgerald's books are almost impossible to find. In 1941, the unfinished manuscript and notes for The Last Tycoon are published.

In 1945, a collection of Fitzgerald's previously unpublished letters, notes, and essays are published under the title The Crack-up. In 1945, his friend Dorothy Parker compiled The Portable F. Scott Fitzgerald ­ it contained The Great Gatsby, Tender Is the Night, and some of his short stories.
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