Facts About Fitzgerald

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Fitzgerald’s Copy of Samuel Butler’s Notebooks


Fitzgerald twice signed or inscribed his copy of Samuel Butler’s Notebooks, ed. Henry Festing Jones (New York: Dutton, 1917) on the free front endpaper, and he annotated the book throughout. When he signed the Notebooks in 1917, Fitzgerald was in his final year at Princeton, during which he wrote apprentice works important to his career. Some of these pieces became his first commercial publications; some were adapted for This Side of Paradise. Two years later, in an 18 September 1919 letter to Maxwell Perkins, Fitzgerald proclaimed that every young writer ought to read Butler’s Notebooks. His admiration for the work endured. In 1923 he placed it at the top of a list of those books he considered the best he had read. When Fitzgerald began organizing his own Notebooks, probably some time in 1932, he tried to emulate Butler.


submitted by: Michael Cody / [Index]


Contract for The Great Gatsby


Scribners was a venerable house that considered publishing to be a gentleman’s occupation. Book contracts issued by this publishing company were two pages long and did not treat serial and movie rights, which were worked out as needed. Although the 22 December 1924 contract for The Great Gatsby does not specify an advance, Scribners routinely granted Fitzgerald loans against his future earnings. The contract for the novel gave Fitzgerald fifteen percent of the $2.00 price on the first 40,000 copies and twenty percent thereafter. The first printing of 20,870 copies sold out, and a second printing of 3,000 copies was ordered in August 1925. Some of those 3,000 copies remained in the Scribners warehouse when Fitzgerald died in December 1940.


submitted by: Mary Sidney Watson / [Index]


Mencken’s Inscription to Fitzgerald


H. L. Mencken inscribed his Prejudices: Second Series (New York: Knopf, 1920) to Fitzgerald on the free front endpaper. This inscription is evidence of the friendship between the two men. The volume also shows proof of Mencken’s influence: Fitzgerald underlined and annotated passages in the section of the book titled “The National Letters,” in which Mencken discusses the lack of a great American literary tradition. Fitzgerald reviewed the book for the March 1921 issue of Bookman.


submitted by: Tracy Simmons Bitonti / [Index]


Revised Typescript Page of “The Offshore Pirate”


The last few lines of the revised typescript page present the original ending of Fitzgerald’s sixth Saturday Evening Post story (29 May 1920). Initially titled “The Proud Piracy,” the story portrays the hijacking of a yacht with a beautiful and imperious young woman aboard. As the lines reveal, Fitzgerald originally made Ardita’s adventure with the gentleman pirate a product of a dream. In the story’s final version Fitzgerald transformed this weak conclusion into a witty and imaginative one. Instead of consigning the entire adventure to the heroine’s dream, Fitzgerald maintains the fantasy to the last sentence of the story: “reaching up on her tiptoes she kissed him softly in the illustration.” This final image underscores the story’s imaginative artifice.


On 21 February 1920 Fitzgerald wrote his literary agent, Harold Ober, that “The last line takes Mr. Lorimer [editor of the Post] at his word. Its one of the best lines I’ve ever written” (As Ever, Scott Fitz—, p. 12) But the Post omitted the final line, perhaps because no corresponding illustration appeared with that text in the magazine. The story was published with Fitzgerald’s preferred ending when it appeared in Flappers and Philosophers, which also does not include illustrations.


submitted by: Park Bucker / [Index] 


Fitzgerald’s Annotated Copy of How to Write Short Stories


After moving to Great Neck, Long Island, in the fall of 1922, Fitzgerald became friends with Ring Lardner. Lardner was a successful newspaper columnist and magazine writer, but his short-story volumes had yet to reach a wide audience. Fitzgerald introduced Lardner to editor Maxwell Perkins and provided the title How to Write Short Stories for the 1924 Lardner collection published by Scribners. The volume led to a re-evaluation of Lardner’s work. He remained a Scribners author, publishing six more books with the firm. Fitzgerald wrote “Read Golden Honeymoon” on the recto of the free front endpaper of this copy and on the verso added a list of other Lardner books. Fitzgerald’s holograph annotations on the contents page are apparently his ranking of the stories in the collection.


submitted by: Robert F. Moss / [Index] 


Fitzgerald’s 1938 Tax Return


In 1938 Fitzgerald earned $58,783.10 from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Under California law Fitzgerald could assign half of his income to his wife. This allowed him to pay taxes in a lower bracket. The first page of his 1938 return shows that he paid $2,340.97 in taxes to the federal government that year.


submitted by: Cy League / [Index]

Fitzgerald Centenary Comments

This page updated 13 May 2005.
Copyright 1996, the Board of Trustees of the University of South Carolina.
URL http://www.sc.edu/fitzgerald/facts/facts7.html