Facts About Fitzgerald

[Facts #1] [Facts #2] [Facts #3] [Facts #4] [Facts #5] [Facts #6] [Facts #7] [Facts #8] [Facts #9] [Facts #10] [Facts #11]


Fitzgerald and Inscriptions

Certain inscriptions show association between one author and another and provide evidence that helps to establish an author’s literary reputation among his or her peers. F. Scott Fitzgerald admired many of the authors of his day and in turn was admired by many. For example, when The Great Gatsby was published in 1925, Fitzgerald inscribed a copy to T. S. Eliot “Greatest of Living Poets from his entheusiastic [sic] worshipper.” (This inscribed copy is in a private collection.) Eliot’s response, in the Fitzgerald Collection at the University of South Carolina, came in February 1933 when Eliot visited Johns Hopkins University to lecture on the metaphysical poets. Bayard and Margaret Turnbull, from whom Fitzgerald was renting a house at the time, gave a dinner in Eliot’s honor and invited their tenant. For the occasion, Fitzgerald read aloud from Eliot’s The Waste Land, after which the two authors exchanged their mutual admiration and Eliot inscribed a copy of Ash Wednesday “To Scott Fitzgerald with the author’s homage.” The Matthew J. and Arlyn Bruccoli Collection of F. Scott Fitzgerald also includes books inscribed to Fitzgerald by Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, H. L. Mencken, John Dos Passos, Ring Lardner, and Thomas Boyd.

submitted by: Michael Cody / [Index]

College Humor and Zelda Fitzgerald’s “Girl” Stories

College Humor was a popular magazine that included fiction and light entertainment and featured sketches of “pin-up” beauties on its covers. In 1925 Fitzgerald turned down the magazine’s offer of $10,000 for serialization of The Great Gatsby because, as he wrote to his agent, Harold Ober, he feared it would damage the serious reception of the book (As Ever, Scott Fitz—, p. 74). However, the magazine did publish his tribute “Princeton” (December 1927), and two articles by Zelda Fitzgerald that featured the joint by-line “F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald”: “Looking Back Eight Years” (June 1928) and “Who Can Fall in Love After Thirty?” (October 1928). College Humor’s editor, H. N. Swanson, would eventually become Fitzgerald’s agent in Hollywood.

After these articles appeared, Fitzgerald helped his wife plan and polish a series of six stories for the magazine, each featuring a type of woman character and each appearing under the joint by-line because F. Scott Fitzgerald’s name was more recognizable and marketable than Zelda Fitzgerald’s. Five stories appeared in College Humor: “The Original Follies Girl” (July 1929); “Southern Girl” (October 1929); “The Girl the Prince Liked” (February 1930); “The Girl with Talent” (April 1930); and “Poor Working Girl” (January 1931). Harold Ober sold the other one, “A Millionaire’s Girl,” to The Saturday Evening Post (17 May 1930) as an F. Scott Fitzgerald story. The “joint” stories brought $400-$800, while “A Millionaire’s Girl” brought $4,000.

submitted by: Tracy Simmons Bitonti / [Index]

Silent Films Made of Early Comic Stories

In the early Twenties silent movies were made from several early magazine stories by Fitzgerald. “Head and Shoulders” was transformed into The Chorus Girl’s Romance, starring Viola Dana. The lobby card explained, “She shook a wicked shoulder and she owned a wicked wink.” “Myra Meets His Family”was retitled The Husband Hunter, which featured Eileen Percy. The Off-Shore Pirate kept its original title and starred Viola Dana and Jake Mulhall. The stories’ broad physical humor adapted very well to the silent screen. Fitzgerald’s themes of young love and imaginative scheming perfectly suited the movie market. Motion pictures also provided an extra source of income for the young writer. Fitzgerald earned $5,750 from the sale of movie rights to these early stories. Metro Pictures also purchased an option on Fitzgerald’s future stories for $3,000, although no more were produced. Due to the unstable nature of their nitrate film, these early silent movies do not survive.

submitted by: Park Bucker / [Index]

Royalty Report

On July 22, 1955, Harold Ober sent an accounting and check to Scottie Fitzgerald Lanahan, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald’s daughter, with the note that CBS had purchased the “right to adapt and dramatize on live television program” The Last Tycoon. The purchase price was $3,500, less Ober's 10% commission. Since The Last Tycoon was unfinished at the time of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s death, the purchase is indicative of the renewed interest in Fitzgerald’s work that occurred in the late 1940s and through out the1950s. CBS adapted The Last Tycoon for its Playhouse 90 series, televised on March 14, 1957. It starred Jack Palance, Ed Wynn, Keenan Wynn, Viveca Lindfors, Peter Lorre, and Lee Remick. The screenplay was adapted by Don M. Mankiewicz and the production was directed by John Frankenheimer. Variety heralded the production, praising, in particular, Palance’s portrayal of Monroe Stahr.

submitted by: Catherine Lewis / [Index]

Gone With the Wind

In early January of 1939, F. Scott Fitzgerald became one of the many writers to work for MGM on turning Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind into a movie. Because Fitzgerald was only briefly on the project, his impact on the film was minimal. His assignment was to polish earlier versions of the screenplay. He revised the film’s dialogue in several scenes by following producer David O. Selznick’s instructions that Mitchell’s own words be used as much as possible. The only substantive contribution that Fitzgerald made to the film was to rewrite the scene in which Rhett Butler receives the Paris bonnet that he subsequently gives to Scarlett. As a professional novelist, Fitzgerald did not like working on someone else’s material. He confessed, however, to finding Mitchell’s style “interesting, surprisingly honest, consistent and workman like throughout.” In the final analysis, though, he regarded the whole thing as “not very original” (To Scottie Fitzgerald, January 1939; Life in Letters, p. 383).

submitted by: Cy League / [Index]

Fitzgerald’s First Novel: A Surprise Best-Seller

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s first novel, This Side of Paradise , was a surprise best-seller for Scribners. The book was also a critical success as reviewers argued that it captured one aspect of American life, the college experience, as no other work had done. In the Chicago Daily Tribune Burton Rascoe argued that the novel bore “the impress . . . of genius” and that “no one has given us so real and intimate a study of college life.” The New York Times Book Review found it “as nearly perfect” a picture of college life “as such a work could be.” The reception among college publications was equally admiring. The reviewer for The Dartmouth sighed, “Nothing is more horrible than Paramount’s conception of a football hero, Selznick’s idea of a famous stroke oar, or even Booth Tarkington’s laughable picture of an undergraduate Bolshevist. But now comes the first book which is ‘regular’” (See F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Critical Reception, ed. Jackson R. Bryer [New York: Burt Franklin, 1978], pp. 1-32).

submitted by: Mary Sidney Watson / [Index]

Popularity of This Side of Paradise

This Side of Paradise was not a runaway bestseller; 49,075 copies had sold by the end of 1921, compared to 295,000 for Sinclair Lewis’s Main Street, which was published in late 1920 and became a best-seller during the Christmas rush. However, the following lists from the December 1920 Bookman indicate the popularity of Fitzgerald’s first novel. The book’s appeal was not—as might be expected for a novel set in Princeton—limited to East Coast readers but rather extended across the nation.

December 1920

1. The Portygee                                                           Joseph C. Lincoln                                  APPLETON
2. Kindred of the Dust                                                 Peter B. Kyne                                         COSMOPOLITAN
3. Harriet and the Piper                                              Kathleen Norris                                     DOUBLEDAY
4. The Top of the World                                              Ethel M. Dell                                         PUTNAM
5. The Great Impersonation                                        E. Phillips Oppenheim                           LITTLE, BROWN
6. Mary Marie                                                             Eleanor H. Porter                                   HOUGHTON

1. The Top of the World                                              Ethel M. Dell                                         PUTNAM
2. The Book of Susan                                                  Lee Wilson Dodd                                   DUTTON
3. Kindred of the Dust                                                 Peter B. Kyne                                         COSMOPOLITAN
4. Harriet and the Piper                                              Kathleen Norris                                     DOUBLEDAY
5. A Poor Wise Man                                                    Mary Roberts Rinehart                          DORAN
6. This Side of Paradise                                              F. Scott Fitzgerald                                 SCRIBNER

1. This Side of Paradise                                              F. Scott Fitzgerald                                 SCRIBNER
2. Harriet and the Piper                                              Kathleen Norris                                     DOUBLEDAY
3. A Man for the Ages                                                 Irving Bacheller                                     BOBBS-MERRILL
4. The Top of the World
                                             Ethel M. Dell                                         PUTNAM
5. The Valley of Silent Men                                         James Oliver Curwood                          COSMOPOLITAN
6. Woman Triumphant                                                Vicente Blasco Ibanez                           DUTTON

1. This Side of Paradise                                              F. Scott Fitzgerald                                 SCRIBNER
2. Kindred of the Dust                                                 Peter B. Kyne                                         COSMOPOLITAN
3. The Valley of Silent Men                                         James Oliver Curwood                          COSMOPOLITAN
4. The Great Impersonation                                        E. Phillips Oppenheim                           LITTLE, BROWN
5. The Man of the Forest                                             Zane Grey                                              HARPER
6. The Great Desire                                                    Alexander Black                                    HARPER

1. Kindred of the Dust                                                 Peter B. Kyne                                         COSMOPOLITAN
2. The Foolish Lovers                                                 St. John Ervine                                       MACMILLAN
3. The Moon and Sixpence                                          W. Somerset Maugham                         DORAN
4. The Man of the Forest                                             Zane Grey                                              HARPER
5. The Valley of Silent Men                                         James Oliver Curwood                          COSMOPOLITAN
6. This Side of Paradise                                              F. Scott Fitzgerald                                 SCRIBNER

1. This Side of Paradise                                              F. Scott Fitzgerald                                 SCRIBNER
2. Kindred of the Dust                                                 Peter B. Kyne                                         COSMOPOLITAN
3. Harriet and the Piper                                              Kathleen Norris                                     DOUBLEDAY
4. The Top of the World                                              Ethel M. Dell                                         PUTNAM
5. The Portygee                                                           Joseph C. Lincoln                                  APPLETON
6. The Valley of Silent Men                                         James Oliver Curwood                          COSMOPOLITAN

submitted by: Robert F. Moss / [Index]


Edmund Wilson on F. Scott Fitzgerald

In 1949 and 1950, Edmund Wilson gave Arthur Mizener information and advice for The Far Side of Paradise (1951), the first biography of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Wilson’s comments about Mizener’s work not only reveal flaws in the biography—flaws which contributed to the enduring distortions of Fitzgerald legend—but also help explain the appeal of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald in the 1920s. These letters are not a part of the Fitzgerald Collection at the University of South Carolina but are included here as evidence of how Fitzgerald myths have been perpetuated.

—Wilson to Christian Gauss, 24 February 1950:

I have just read the whole of the manuscript of Arthur Mizener’s book on Scott and am very much worried about it. He has assembled in a spirit absolutely ghoulish everything discreditable or humiliating that ever happened to Scott. He has distorted the anecdotes that people have told him in such a way as to put Scott and Zelda in the worst possible light, and he has sometimes taken literally the jokes and nonsense that Scott was always giving off in letters and conversation and representing them as sinister realities. On the other hand, he gives no sense at all of the Fitzgeralds in the days when they were soaring—when Scott was successful and Zelda enchanting. Of course, Mizener is under a disadvantage in not having known them or their period, but his book is a disconcerting revelation of his own rather sour personality.

—Wilson to Arthur Mizener, 3 March 1950:

It is true that you have the advantage of not having known the Fitzgeralds or seen anything of the gaiety of the twenties, whereas you must have a first-hand impression of the desperate hangover of the thirties. But you can’t really tell the story without somehow doing justice to the exhilaration of the days when Scott was successful and Zelda at her most enchanting. . . . The remarkable thing about the Fitzgeralds was their capacity for carrying things off and carrying people away by their spontaneity, charm, and good-looks. They had a genius for imaginative improvisations of which they were never quite deprived of even in their later misfortunes. . . .

From Letters on Literature and Politics 1912-1972, ed. Elena Wilson (New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 1977), pp. 475-476.

submitted by: Robert F. Moss / [Index]

Fitzgerald Centenary Comments

This page updated 28 April 2005.
Copyright 1996, the Board of Trustees of the University of South Carolina.
URL http://www.sc.edu/fitzgerald/facts/facts3.html