F. Scott Fitzgerald in St. Paul, MN

Posted on November 15, 2011 by peter bell

Every era of writers has their set of literary heroes, and F. Scott Fitzgerald is one of the standouts of the Lost Generation.  The man who coined the phrase “the Jazz Age” while reveling in its excesses, Fitzgerald spent much of his life in the city of St. Paul.

From popturf user donkeyoti comes a list of places that may interest you if you’re a fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

F. Scott Fitzgerald was named after his distant cousin, Francis Scott Key, who wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner”.  No pressure there, right?  He was born in his family’s apartment in St. Paul, on the second floor of a building then called the San Mateo Flats on September 24, 1896

His father was a wicker furniture maker in St. Paul, but after failing at that the moved to upstate New York.   The family stayed there until 1908, then returned to St. Paul where the family lived in several locations when Scott was a boy.  He attended the local St. Paul Academy for years.

Eventually, Fitzgerald was sent east for boarding school, returning to St. Paul only a few times a year.  There he developed his technique and theory of writing.  He joined the army and was stationed in Montgomery, Alabama, where he met his future wife, Zelda.

Returning to St. Paul after the stint in the army, Fitzgerald moved in with his family as he tried to get work as he corresponded with Zelda.  In 1919, he reworked some of his earlier writing to form the novel This Side of Paradise.  This book was accepted as his first published novel.  Upon receiving word of upcoming publication, Fitzgerald reportedly ran up Summit Ave telling people the news.

The book was published 1920, and Scott and Zelda were married soon afterwards in New York.  They generally drank and partied, returning to St. Paul in 1921 for the birth of their daughter, Scottie.

After that, it’s the story of a great writer: drinking, hob-knobbing with the culture-shapers of the early 20th century, partying, writing what is considered the quintessential novel of American aspiration of that time (The Great Gatsby), drinking, romance, betrayal, desperation, Hollywood, and all that good stuff.

In downtown St. Paul, there is a statue in Rice Park dedicated to F. Scott Fitzgerald, as well as a theater named in his honor.  All of these locations could easily be toured on a bike in a single afternoon.  If you do, you might hear the echoes of jazz pouring out of Victrolas from a hundred years ago.


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