Category Archives: Americana

The Art of Freeing the Mind (and Body) with Henry Miller

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By Margueritte Peterson

Normally our author blogs are based on a date in the life of said author – birthdays, publishing dates, even memorials to their deaths. I’d like to take this moment to say that this is not one of those types of dates. This blog is completely and utterly random… all because I recently dreamt about seeing a sunrise at Big Sur and decided to get to know one of the many authors who made the area their home… Mr. Henry Miller.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 3.32.39 PMHenry Miller lived to the ripe old age of 88, and in less than a century managed to offend tens of thousands of people. His books were banned in not only states but entire countries. (The United States being one of them… yay for freedom of speech?) And why was this one man as taboo as sex before marriage was to Victorians? Because he dared. Well… dared in life and then proceeded to publish his daring activities. Miller was known for his free way of writing – a truly singular author in style, blending many different genres of literature (autobiography and philosophy, surrealism and social critique – to name a few) creating a truly unique voice. But one of the many aspects that set him apart from the crowd was the fact that his work was, at the least, semi-autobiographical in nature – and to describe the sexual exploits of a lonely man in Paris in the 30s was gutsy, to say the least. So what in Miller’s life was so audacious as to be banned in countries around the world? Well I’ll tell you…

Miller was born the day after Christmas in 1891 and spent most of his childhood growing up in Brooklyn, New York. The author married his first wife (Beatrice Sylvas Wickens) young, and though the union produced his first child, daughter Barbara, in 1919, the marriage was not a happy one and the couple divorced in 1923. A short while after his divorce was finalized (so shortly, in fact, that it is quite likely Miller began the next relationship before the end of his first one) Miller married a dancer who went by the name June Mansfield. June would be much written about and discussed for both her beauty and her deceptive and slightly challenging nature. During his marriage to Mansfield, Miller would spend much time abroad, particularly in Paris (and continued to live there for 5 years after she divorced him by proxy in 1934). His time in Paris was very influential to his writing, as he became ingratiated with a literary community there – so far as to be financed by Anais Nin and her husband Ian Hugo for most of the 1930s while he wrote in (what would today be considered) poverty. Nin and Miller were lovers and their relationship would be common knowledge once Nin’s private diaries were published (with both’s permission) in 1969. The pair would remain friends for life.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 3.32.55 PMThe Dust Jacket on his first published work, “Tropic of Cancer” (1934) came with a warning to readers that it was not to be distributed in the United States or in Great Britain. Miller’s work detailed varied sexual experiences that were considered extremely scandalous (perhaps because they were based in truth!) for the time and for a great number of years his work was banned in two of the most (supposedly) democratic countries in the world. Luckily for the author, however, the censorship and scandal surrounding his work grew him a fantastical reputation in underground literary society – and despite his books being banned he was world-famous and well-known. Though Miller eventually grew tired of being respected for writing what, to some, came across as smut or erotica, he did not fight his reputation (being married and divorced five times certainly didn’t help to quell the image of his excessive sexuality). He is known to have inspired an entire group of writers that later would become known as the Beat Generation (Jack Kerouac cited Miller as one of his literary idols). For that he is considered one of the forerunners of modern literature, and is to be revered for his help in freeing up the “mind” for future authors and audiences.

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Who cares that Gold was found near Sacramento? Check out these Gems we Mined at the Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair…

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Circa 1869, this pamphlet titled “God is Love. A Sermon” was authored by George Storrs – one of the leaders of the Second Advent movement, affiliated with William Miller and Joshua V. Himes. After a fair amount of study, Storrs preached to some Adventists on the condition and prospects… for the dead. OCLC records no copies of this pamphlet, nor is it found in the NUC! See more on it here>

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 6.38.53 PMThis set of 5 Nursing Student journals were written between 1923 and 1926 by one Mildred Godwin, a class of ’26 nursing student at Crozer Hospital, Chester, Pennsylvania. Within these journals the young lady records diverse class notes beginning in September of 1923 from lectures by her professors – Dr. Crowther, Miss Burkhard, Dr. Gray, etc. The subject of her entries range widely across the medical spectrum, from items such as Social Service to “Why Cases are Referred.” A very interesting archive of post WWI nursing education! Check it out here>

 

Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 10.05.56 AMThis is no ordinary promotional photograph album or scrapbook… at least, not in terms of subject! The Alaska Blue Fox Company seem to have produced this interesting documentary album, providing an invaluable historical look at a very successful fox farming venture (yes, you read that correctly. No, there’s nothing I can do about it) on Bushy Island, in the Southeast Alaska Islands. After WWI there was a rise in fur prices, giving some eccentric entrepreneurs an opportunity to lease the island in the Tongass National Forest off the coast of Alaska and stock it with some 20 breeding pairs of foxes – all for your wearing pleasure. Be unnerved here>

 

Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 10.06.36 AMThis 1929 Promotional Project Photograph Album details the Western Maryland Railway – a (primarily) coal & freight hauling operation – with images of the diverse aspects & views of the port facilities & docks, of the ‘up-to-date’ buildings & even some freight moving mechanisms (spiral chutes & cranes, etc). An outstanding, possibly unique album documenting local pre-depression Baltimore history, as well as the capital improvement efforts of one of Maryland’s major transportation firms! Love automotive and locomotive history? This is the album for you…

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It’s Always Sunny in Sacramento

Our main lady, the lovely Kate Mitas, reports on the recent Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair. That’s not all… perhaps I should call it (for Tavistock Books, at least) the most recent and successful Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair. Stay tuned!

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By Kate Mitas

Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m willing to bet that by now, if you’ve been following Tavistock’s less than stellar performance at the past three book fairs, you probably don’t really give a damn about the progress of this latest fair. All you really want to know is if we finally, finally managed to have a decent book fair, or if we’ve had to slink away with our tail between our legs yet again.

Now, if this were any other book fair, knowing that wouldn’t actually stop me from forcing you to sit through this entire blog, anyway, while I regaled you with comic misadventures and newbie impressions until, at the very last minute, revealing whether or not we’d succeeded. But just this once, I’ll spare you the suspense. 

Because this isn’t just any old book fair: at long last, and for the first time ever in my short antiquarian bookselling career, Tavistock Books actually had a good book fair.

Yeah, you read that right: we had a good book fair! We sold books! And we even made some money! Hurrah!

Well, that is to say, we mostly had a good book fair. And then again, we almost didn’t. Because, in fact, we nearly gave up before we began, and the good ship Tavistock, languishing in the doldrums for so long, seriously considered dropping out of the fair circuit altogether. 

See? There’s always a story to tell. 

So, for any who are still curious, procrastinating, or otherwise willing to fritter away a few more minutes of your time: here is your tale of book fair woe and triumph, as soberly and matter-of-factly told as I can manage right now.

Once upon a time, in a land rather a lot like this one, but slightly more drought-stricken, a wee lass of a bookseller-in-training traipsed off to Sacramento to work her first-ever booth at an antiquarian book fair. Let’s say, for the sake of this story, that it was a bright September afternoon in 2015, and that, although the hills and fields were brown and had been for some time, the sky was blue and cloudless and full of promise. This young bookseller and her not-so-young boss barreled up Interstate 80 in the shop’s trusty van, which was filled with what seemed like good candidates for a regional book fair: loads of Californiana and Western Americana, interesting ephemera, and, of course, helpings from some of the loveliest books in the shop’s specialties. The iron mesh door behind the front seats rattled quietly as they drove, and the side panels of the folded wooden bookcases in back occasionally let slip a muted clack whenever the van hit a bump. These sounds were oddly soothing to the young bookseller’s jangling nerves.

Our heroine was but five weeks into the antiquarian book trade, then, and ignorant of the sometimes cruel vagaries of the book fair circuit. She had high hopes for the shop’s success at the fair, though she kept them to herself, not wanting to jinx it. And yet, as perhaps a few of you may recall, those hopes were thoroughly quashed by the nearly unrelenting cacophony of crickets in the Tavistock booth that weekend. 

Three mournful, but plucky, blogs, two increasingly painful unsuccessful book fairs, and one wrecked van later, and the mood in the shop during the days leading up to this past weekend’s biannual Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair was decidedly grim. A kind of preliminary dread set in. There was talk of abandoning the fair circuit. All of our books looked crummy. Never mind that a second look might at them might steal our hearts all over again — no customer would want them. It rained all week, adding to the gloomy atmosphere. In short, we had the pre-fair blues.

Nevertheless, despairing naps and weeping under one’s desk are generally frowned upon at work, so, naturally, we went through the motions of packing and preparing. And while we were doing so, it occurred to me that if we kept on this way, we were definitely going to have another bad book fair. And I wasn’t having any of it, not this time.

“Hey, Vic,” I announced, “you know this is going to be my first successful book fair, right?” (This is true — you can ask him.)

The lucky title that perhaps played a hand in Tavistock Books' successful Sacramento fair! See it here>

The lucky title that perhaps played a hand in Tavistock Books’ successful Sacramento fair! See it here>

He seemed doubtful. And who can blame him? But instead of packing “The Dying Californian,” the songster that had served as my first Sacto fair’s sorry mascot, I decided to bring along our copy of Fred Fearnot and the Errand Boy; or, Bound to Make Money. Sure, maybe it was silly, but maybe it’d bring us a bit of much-needed luck, too. Plus, if things worked out, it’d make for a good blog title. “Kate Fearnot” has a certain ring to it, after all . . . 

Okay, if I’m honest, I can’t really take credit for the success that followed. Clouds continued to loom as we left the city, but the sun broke through around Vacaville. Thanks to Jim Kay’s tireless efforts, booth setup went smoothly, for the most part, and any flagging spirits were topped-up by free pizza in the afternoon. The company of what has become the usual crowd on the book-fair circuit was splendid, as always, and even Ms. P. (aka Margueritte Peterson) made an appearance, and may yet have room in her busy schedule for new clients for her social media/ catalogue design business. The crowd trickled in early Saturday morning, then grew quickly and remained steady throughout the day, and although not all of the booksellers I spoke with were happy, few seemed to regret having made the trek. At the Tavistock booth, we sold a range of material to both customers and dealers, ranging from a $9 children’s book (haggled down from $10 out of what, I’m sure, was merely compulsive bargaining) to considerably more expensive items, and everyone seemed happy with their purchases. Even the buying was pretty good for us.

Kate hasn't seen Vic so excited a book since she’s been here! He says he’s never seen a dedicated lending library binding! More details coming soon...

Kate hasn’t seen Vic so excited a book since she’s been here! He says he’s never seen a dedicated lending library binding! More details coming soon…

I wish I could say that it was a huge success, of course, making up for the preceding lackluster showings and then some. Certainly not enough to merit a Kate Fearnot blog title. Are they worth it then, these fairs? All that effort and agony, all the expense and risk just to gather, however briefly, with colleagues and book lovers of all stripes? Are they bonanzas, migratory communities, or refuges of a book trade that keeps losing physical stores? And what would we do, how would we swap knowledge and ideas and, it goes without saying, books, if we didn’t do book fairs?

Frankly, I don’t know the answers to these questions. What I do know is that I have a catalogue to get ready for next week, and a stack of cool things to catalogue for it, and a pile of fair items to finish putting away, and a tally sheet on my desk pointing out our modest profit, in black ink, for the first time. It feels an awful lot like being a bookseller.

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Be on the Lookout! Come to the Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair for…

The Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair is coming up and as usual we will have some hot new items with us for your perusal! Check out our list below for the latest acquisitions that may be of interest. Also, please feel free to ask us to bring anything you may want to take a look at – we’d be happy to do so! Happy Book hunting to all!

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Check out this 1803 First Edition work of juvenile fiction, “The Preservation of Charles and Isabella”, (set in Lisbon during the great earthquake) by an author better known for his satirical works. This isn’t just any first edition, however – this title is very scarce, OCLC locating only four holdings in libraries worldwide! (Oxford, Princeton, Indiana & NY Public… in case you were interested!) This from the library of either 1st or 2nd Baronet (both have the same name) Sir David Salomons, Bart. from Tunbridge Wells! See it here>

 

 

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 10.05.30 AMGot a Special Collection that needs some spicing up? Look no further! Up for sale is a Lot of 35 Shape Books and Die-Cut advertising cards, circa 1895 to the 1940s! A diverse collection – whose sizes, paginations and subject matter vary as widely as possible! All but two are American in origin. Most are also scarce in the trade, with limited or no presence in OCLC’s holdings! Interested? We are (and would keep them for ourselves but that defeats the idea of having a business). Check them out here> 

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 10.05.45 AMThis broadside advertisement from the 1930s features a speeding train and a bottle of fresh milk (yes… an interesting combination). The Marin-Dell brand was the trademark of the Marin Dairymen’s Milk Company, Ltd. which operated out of San Francisco and sold only milk processed from Marin County dairies! Not only that, but they also only ever sold the milk to independent grocers in the Bay Area… talk about local history! See this advert here> 

 

 

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 10.05.58 AMThe Blaw-Knox Construction Company is, to-this-day, one of the leading manufacturers of road paving equipment in the world, was originally a maker of steel and concrete forms. This 1920s Manufacturer Photograph Trade Catalogue is interesting indeed – being an uncommon primary source visually documenting this company’s work product of almost a century ago now! Interested in how normal things began to be made? This is one place to start! See more here>

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 10.06.11 AMThis political satire “Advertisements Extraordinary” is a 1st printing broadside, circa the mid to late 1830s. This Very Good condition, double-column printing lists 19 “Items” ridiculing government and politics in the United Kingdom! And if that isn’t enough to spark your interest… perhaps the idea that there are no holdings located on OCLC will be! Find out more information here>

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 10.06.21 AMAre you more of an absolutely-no-doubt-about-it-one-of-a-kind kind of person? Well have we got something for you! This 1912 MSS, self-published hand-made booklet is a one-of-one type of item by Minerva Mickle, inscribed to Ruth Spelman is unpaginated, though 12 pages. It is illustrated throughout with newspaper cut-outs and drawings, with a color pictorial onlay to the front wrapper. If you are a travel enthusiast, this is the item for you! See our “An Imaginary Journey” here>

 

 

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 10.06.33 AMArt aficionado? We’ve got you covered, too! This “Masterpieces of the Japanese Wood-Block Print” by Sadao Kikuchi is a 1st (Deluxe) edition in English, published in 1970. This 350-page work explores many different art-forms, heavily illustrated with a folding three-panel frontis, tipped-in color plates and 235 illustrations (of which 105 are color plates and the rest a mix of mounted b/w plates). Still housed in a Near Fine Publisher’s Box. Become a fan of the Wood-Block here> 

 

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 10.06.53 AMDid you know that we have many items in the “automobile promotional material” category? (Vic has a “thing” for Porsches.. for those that were not aware.) We have a few nice automobile sample catalogues of a colorful nature from the last half of the 20th century, but here is something new! This letter and silver gelatin photographs show a few models from the 1930s, all clear and sharp in Near Fine condition (a rarity for items such as these)!  See it here>

 

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And last but certainly not least, an amazing Californiana item by Charles Quincy Turner! Published in 1902, this booklet has 70 pages and a fold-out map in the rear showing wagon roads and trails throughout Yosemite. 24 Sepia print photographs are mounted on heavy board, all with captions describing the scenes pictures. The pictures are fresh and show little to no fading, though the box is worn (we liked to call it “well-loved”). Very Good! Check it out here>

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“You’re wrong as the deuce, and you shouldn’t rejoice. If you’re calling him Seuss – he pronounces it Soice.” (But then changed it to Seuss, so…)

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By Margueritte Peterson

If someone says “Children’s Books” to you, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Picture books? Perhaps here is the better question… what author first comes to mind? I would venture to bet that at least 90% of you come up with the same name. However, did you know that the name you come up with is not his true name? (Probably most of you do, since you are members of the book world or bibliophiles and would know something like that… but humor me!) 

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 8.59.38 AMTheodor Seuss Geisel was born on March 2nd, 1904 to a German family in Springfield, Massachusetts. His father ran a family-owned brewery in Massachusetts (well, until the Prohibition did away with that). Geisel went to school in Massachusetts until he went to Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, graduating in 1925. During his time at Dartmouth, Geisel first showed skill and interest in humorous literature as rose to the role of editor-in-chief of the literary magazine the Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern before graduating. Unfortunately, one college incident threatened to end his early literary career – when Geisel was caught drinking gin (the Prohibition was in effect) in his dorm room with some of his friends. In punishment for this crime, Geisel was forced to resign from his position at the magazine. In order to continue publishing his work at the Jack-O-Lantern, Geisel began writing under the pen name “Seuss”, his middle name. The beginning of Dr. Seuss was underway. 

Once graduating from Dartmouth, Geisel began his PhD studies at Lincoln College, Oxford, to earn a degree in English Literature. Though he left Oxford without a degree in early 1927, Geisel was still able to begin his living publishing humorous cartoons. He accepted a job at the humor magazine Judge and 6 months after he began working at the magazine he first published work under his pen-name “Dr. Seuss.” Geisel’s cartoons gained popularity throughout the end of the 1920s and the entirety of the 1930s, largely due to his help with advertisements of popular brands like General Electric and Standard Oil – adverts that helped him and his wife maintain financial stability through the Great Depression. Due to help from a friend (despite his popularity), Geisel was able to begin publishing humorous poems with the Vanguard Press. In 1940, he published a poem under the title “Horton Hatches an Egg” – a poem that has, to this day, sparked further books, movies, animated films and even musical productions. 

Our signed copy of Bartholomew and the Oobleck can be found here!

Our inscribed copy of Bartholomew and the Oobleck can be found here!

Throughout the 1940s and WWII, Geisel created hundreds of political cartoons criticizing Hitler and Mussolini and strongly supported the US war effort. Shortly after the war, Geisel and his wife Helen moved from New York to La Jolla, California and he returned to writing children’s books. Between 1950 and 1960 Geisel published many of the works he is most well-known for today, such as Bartholomew and the Ooblek (1949), If I Ran the Zoo (1950), Horton Hears a Who! (1955 – a more in-depth work on his original poem), If I Ran the Circus (1956), The Cat in the Hat (1957), How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1957) and Green Eggs and Ham (1960). In 1954, William Ellsworth Spaulding challenged Geisel to write a book with 250 words chosen by the education division of Houghton Mifflin of words that all 1st graders ought to know. The result contained 236 of the 250 words and was Geisel’s famed The Cat in the Hat

Though Geisel (surprisingly) never won a Newbery or Caldecott award, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Dartmouth (1956), a Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal in 1980, and the Pulitzer Prize in 1984 (for his “substantial and lasting contributions to children’s literature”). Geisel also never had children of his own (perhaps he was too busy teaching and entertaining everyone else’s children!), but will forever be remembered as one of the fathers of Children’s Literature! 

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“He was America”: Happy Birthday Carl Sandburg!

By Margueritte Peterson

Admitting this is probably one of those phenomenally bad ideas I continuously have despite how much older I get, but I am one of those wicked people who pretended to know, well…something about this American literary star for many years. People would mention his name and I would be all, “Oh yes, Carl Sandburg, wow… it went for how much? Woah!” While casually hoping the conversation would change because as far as I knew I could not remember reading anything by this author and continually neglected to read up on him when I got to a quiet corner away from prying eyes. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I know it is a shocker but I am not omniscient (though I’m sure it seems that way most of the time. Eh-hem). So now, just in case any of you out there are like me and think you can continue fooling people into thinking you know about this magnificent man… think again!

sandburgCarl August Sandburg was born on January 6th, 1878 in Galesburg, Illinois. Though he left school at the age of 13 out of monetary necessity for his family and spent years as a laborer in some form or fashion (a milk wagon driver, a porter, a bricklayer, a farmhand, a hotel servant, a member of the American Army – 6th Illinois Infantry Regiment 1898, a coal-heaver… you name it, he did it). After leaving the army, Sandburg was encouraged by a fellow student to spend a few years at Lombard College where he attracted the attention of one of his Professors, Philip Green Wright, who so believed in Sandburg’s work that he paid for his first publication – a book of poetry entitled Reckless Ecstasy in 1904. Sandburg left Lombard in 1903 sans a degree (though he would later received honorary degrees for much of his schooling).

Around 1905 Sandburg moved to Milwaukee and joined Wisconsin’s Social Democratic Party, or in other words, the Socialist Party of America. A couple years later he met another young Socialist Party worker Lillian Steichen (sister of photographer Edward Steichen) and they were married. From 1910 to 1912 Sandburg would work as secretary to the Socialist Milwaukee mayor Emil Seidel. In the coming years Sandburg and Lillian (whom he called Paula) would celebrate the birth of three daughters. After moving around a bit (mainly in Illinois – where at one point Sandburg became a journalist for the Chicago Daily News), the couple and their family settled in Elmhurst, IL in 1919.

View our holding of Sandburg's Complete Poems (an Inscribed Presentation Copy, by the way) here!

View our holding of Sandburg’s Complete Poems (an Inscribed Presentation Copy, by the way) here!

Once settling down in Elmhurst, Sandburg became interested in writing for himself and his budding family. And write he did! The author began by writing Children’s books, followed by some fiction, a two volume biography on President Lincoln, anthologies of folk music, and poetry books! Some of his works for Children included Rootabaga Stories (1922), Rootabaga Pigeons (1923) and Potato Face (1930). Sandburg was quite interested in the idea of American children’s stories for American children – thinking that European stories of kings and palaces and knights were out of place in American education. In 1926 he published his two-volume series on Abraham Lincoln. Sandburg’s first big win came even earlier, right at the beginning of his real writing career, as he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1919 for his collection of poems titled Corn Huskers. Over a decade after its publication he won his second Pulitzer for Volume II of his Abraham Lincoln biography, and his third Pulitzer was awarded in 1951 for his collection of poetry titled Complete Poems. He is, perhaps, best remembered as a poet, but clearly his variety of work shows a talent in much of the literary arts, one could argue a talent almost unparalleled to this day.

On July 22nd, 1967, Sandburg died in his home of natural causes. After hearing of Sandburg’s death, President Lyndon B. Johnson is said to have stated “[he] was more than the voice of America, more than the poet of its strength and genius. He was America.” And now that I know a bit about him, I couldn’t agree more! Ladies and gentlemen, on this 6th of January we’d like to wish a very happy birthday to Carl Sandburg – an American writer and legend that was the voice of America in many different fashions!

Our inscribed presentation copy of "Remembrance Rock" can be found here!

Our inscribed presentation copy of “Remembrance Rock” can be found here!

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Happy Birthday, F. Scott Fitzgerald!

By Margueritte Peterson

September 24th is the anniversary of the birth of one of the most well-known Western writers of the 20th century. Notice I did not say one of the most prolific writers in history, as this novelist only published 4 titles throughout his (unfortunately brief) lifetime. However, it must be said that though these titles garnered only modest success throughout his short life, F. Scott Fitzgerald has since become internationally famous and is known as one of the most important voices of the Jazz Age… not to mention a front-runner of Modern American Literature.

A young Fitzgerald at his desk.

A young Fitzgerald at his desk.

Born in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1896, Fitzgerald was loosely related (second cousin three times removed kind of loose… the kind that you can marry in any state, really) to Francis Scott Key – the composer of the national anthem – and was named in his honor. A few months before he was born, his two older sisters died before their 5th birthdays. Fitzgerald cited their death, while he was still in the womb, to be the moment when he became a writer. After spending a few years of his childhood living in Buffalo, New York with his doting parents, the family moved back to Minnesota. At the age of 13 Fitzgerald saw his first work published – a detective mystery in his school newspaper. He continued to write throughout his few years at Princeton University, where, as young men are wont, he eventually came to be on academic probation and consequently dropped out of school to join the army. Around this time, Charles Scribner’s Sons rejected two of his early works, one of which is The Romantic Egotist.

Scott and Zelda after their marriage.

Scott and Zelda after their marriage.

As a young lieutenant stationed in Alabama, Fitzgerald met and fell in love with the daughter of the Alabama Supreme Court Justice. Though Zelda initially accepted a marriage proposal from Fitzgerald, she eventually changed her mind under the impression that he would not make enough money to support the lifestyle she was used to. Once Fitzgerald was discharged from the army, he moved to New York, desperate to make enough money to impress Zelda and win her back. (I feel like nowadays that kind of spoiled behavior wouldn’t fly… unfortunately). Fitzgerald worked full-time for an advertising agency and even repaired automobiles on the side to save as much as he could. However, he was unable to convince the beautiful Alabama socialite, and returned home disheartened. In St. Paul, Fitzgerald took the time to revise his earlier novel The Romantic Egotist into what he renamed This Side of Paradise. This time around, Scribner’s accepted the novel and when it was published in March of 1920 the title sold over 41,000 copies in the first year alone. Fitzgerald became famous overnight – and with the steady income from the book and the demands for more literature, he suddenly was in a position Zelda could accept – the two were married only a week after and by October of 1921 their daughter “Scottie” was born.

In the 1920s the Fitzgeralds spent a significant amount of time in Paris – enjoying themselves with the other American expatriates living there (most notably Ernest Hemingway). Though Hemingway did not approve of Fitzgerald’s marriage to Zelda (supposedly calling her “insane” and believing that she stifled Fitzgerald’s talent out of jealousy), the friendship between Hemingway and Fitzgerald was one of the most important in FItzgerald’s short life. Though they eventually drifted apart, Fitzgerald held Hemingway’s work in the highest regard and strove to achieve the same success his friend experienced.

The young family, in the hold of financial difficulties.

The young family, in the hold of financial difficulties.

Despite the author’s fame and talent, the Fitzgeralds were in a constant state of financial worry. Throughout his life, F. Scott borrowed money from friends and took out loans – as only his first novel made enough money to support their lifestyle. Though his passion lay in writing novels, Fitzgerald made most of his money by publishing short stories in journals and periodicals – a few notable stories being “The Diamond as Big as the Ritz”, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, “The Last of the Belles” and “The Camel’s Back.” They were well-known as great partiers and drinkers, and as the “belles” of the Jazz Age, they lived up to their reputations. Around 1930 Zelda began to suffer from schizophrenia, an illness that took a great toll on their relationship as well as Scott’s writing. For the rest of her life, Zelda would be treated in Psychiatric Hospitals and wards in both America and Europe (the pair moved back to Maryland in the 30s to give themselves a more stable lifestyle – one that would hopefully allow Fitzgerald a better chance at writing more steadily. These years were far from easy for the pair, and in 1937 Scott moved to Los Angeles to work on (what he considered degrading) film scripts and commercial short stories. He and Zelda’s fiery relationship became too hard to bear and for the rest of his short life he and his wife would be estranged, with her living in and out of mental hospitals on the east coast.

In his years in Hollywood Fitzgerald suffered two heart attacks, the second being the cause of his death at the young age of 44. He was, at that time, working on his fifth novel, The Love of the Last Tycoon, which remained unfinished at his death. A literary critic and personal friend of Fitzgerald, Edmund Wilson, published the work in 1941 after Scott’s death as The Last Tycoon, but an unedited version surfaced in 1994 and was published under the original title. Fitzgerald, though now recognized as one of the most influential authors of the Jazz Age, was not necessarily recognized in his lifetime as such. As stated, only his first novel was as commercially successful as one would expect, given his fame in recent day. (EvenThe Great Gatsby was not the front-runner Jazz Age title we know it as today.) Now, on his 119th birthday, he is one of the most famous American authors ever known. Why is that, you may ask? Well, you’ll have to check back next September 24th on his 120th birthday, when we examine why humanity likes to change its mind!

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Just kidding. I have no idea what will be being written next September 24th. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check back though!

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