“An author ought to write for the youth of his own generation, the critics of the next, and the schoolmaster of ever afterwards.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
For all intents and purposes, Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (named in part for his famous relative and writer of “The Star Spangled Banner”) lived up to his own advice. Born in St. Paul, MN, on this date in 1896, Fitzgerald is widely regarded and studied as one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century, although he did not receive much critical acclaim until after his death in 1940.
Educated at top schools, including Princeton University, Fitzgerald started writing early and had his first short story published at age 13. Perhaps the most notable member of the so-called "Lost Generation” of the 1920s, Fitzgerald achieved popular success, fame, and fortune in his lifetime, but also lived on the edge of poverty on a number of occasions because of his excessive lifestyle.
While he wrote only 5 novels, led by The Great Gatsby, they remain among the most studied works of the first half of the last century. He also was one of the most popular writers of short stories and screenplays, writing close to 200 short stories (mostly for popular magazines) during his lifetime.
“You don't write because you want to say something,” Fitzgerald advised. “You write because you have something to say.”
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