9 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About The Life Of F. Scott Fitzgerald

With Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby hitting theaters next month, here’s a little insight into the author that made it all possible.

1.

The Great Gatsby’s Broadway adaptation and its movie rights netted Fitzgerald more than $22,000, roughly $300,000 today.

2.

Fitzgerald once participated in a gag on his Japanese butler in Connecticut, Tana, which involved sending him letters written for a spy. One of them warned him of an imminent raid by The American Legion and asked him to relay back whether Fitzgerald was killed in the process. Another asked Tana to verify whether the Fitzgerald house’s floor could hold a two-ton cannon in case of war.

3.

Upon seeing The Great Gatsby manuscript for the first time, Fitzgerald’s editor at Scribners, Maxwell Perkins, thought that chapters Six and Seven lacked interest, and that Gatsby was too vague about himself and where he came from.

4.

At a bar in Antibes, Fitzgerald and a friend succeeded in tying a barman to a couple of chairs to see if they could cut him in half and keep him alive. The barman made enough noise to attract the police.

From the London Music Hall scene around 1920.

5.

In 1929, during a boxing match between Ernest Hemingway and Canadian writer Morley Callaghan, Fitzgerald the timekeeper mistakenly let a round go into overtime while Hemingway was being pummeled.

6.

Fitzgerald likened creativity to a gas tank that he fully expected to one day run dry.

Scott and Zelda.

7.

In the late 1930s, Fitzgerald revised the script for Gone With The Wind while working at MGM.

8.

Scottie Fitzgerald, the daughter of Zelda and Scott, received an autographed hazelnut from Gertrude Stein while she visited the Fitzgeralds on Christmas Eve, 1934.

That’s Gertrude on your right in her Paris salon with Alice B. Toklas.

9.

Fitzgerald wrote this letter to an 11-year-old Scottie while she was at camp:

AUGUST 8, 1933
LA PAIX, RODGERS’ FORGE
TOWSON, MARYLAND

Dear Pie:

I feel very strongly about you doing duty. Would you give me a little more documentation about your reading in French? I am glad you are happy— but I never believe much in happiness. I never believe in misery either. Those are things you see on the stage or the screen or the printed page, they never really happen to you in life.

All I believe in in life is the rewards for virtue (according to your talents) and the punishments for not fulfilling your duties, which are doubly costly. If there is such a volume in the camp library, will you ask Mrs. Tyson to let you look up a sonnet of Shakespeare’s in which the line occurs Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds….

I think of you, and always pleasantly, but I am going to take the White Cat out and beat his bottom hard, six times for every time you are impertinent. Do you react to that?…

Half-wit, I will conclude. Things to worry about:

Worry about courage
Worry about cleanliness
Worry about efficiency
Worry about horsemanship…
Things not to worry about:
Don’t worry about popular opinion
Don’t worry about dolls
Don’t worry about the past
Don’t worry about the future
Don’t worry about growing up
Don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you
Don’t worry about triumph
Don’t worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault
Don’t worry about mosquitoes
Don’t worry about flies
Don’t worry about insects in general
Don’t worry about parents
Don’t worry about boys
Don’t worry about disappointments
Don’t worry about pleasures
Don’t worry about satisfactions
Things to think about:
What am I really aiming at?
How good am I really in comparison to my contemporaries in regard to:
(a) Scholarship
(b) Do I really understand about people and am I able to get along with them?
© Am I trying to make my body a useful instrument or am I neglecting it?
With dearest love,

Scott, Scottie and Zelda in Paris in 1925.

Scottie Fitzgerald.

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