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F. Scott Fitzgerald – First Edition Books: Identification Guide

F. Scott Fitzgerald
F. Scott Fitzgerald

Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (1896 – 1940) was an American novelist, essayist, screenwriter, and short story writer. He was best known for his novels depicting the flamboyance and excess of the Jazz Age—a term which he popularized. During his lifetime, he published four novels, four collections of short stories, and 164 short stories. Although he temporarily achieved popular success and fortune in the 1920s, Fitzgerald only received critical acclaim after his death and is now widely regarded as one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century.

Born into a middle-class family in St. Paul, Minnesota, Fitzgerald was primarily raised in New York. He attended Princeton University, but due to a failed relationship with socialite Ginevra King and a preoccupation with writing, he dropped out in 1917 to join the United States Army. While stationed in Alabama, he romantically pursued Zelda Sayre, a Southern debutante who belonged to Montgomery’s exclusive country club set. Although she initially rejected him due to his lack of financial prospects, Zelda agreed to marry Fitzgerald after he had published the commercially successful This Side of Paradise (1920). The novel became a cultural sensation and cemented Fitzgerald’s reputation as one of the eminent writers of the decade.

His second novel, The Beautiful and Damned (1922), further propelled him into the cultural elite. During this period, Fitzgerald frequented Europe, where he befriended modernist writers and artists of the “Lost Generation” expatriate community, including Ernest Hemingway. His third novel, The Great Gatsby (1925), received generally favorable reviews but was a commercial failure, selling fewer than 23,000 copies in its first year. Despite its lackluster debut, The Great Gatsby is now widely praised, with some labeling it the “Great American Novel”. Following the deterioration of his wife’s mental health and her placement in a mental institute for schizophrenia, Fitzgerald completed his final novel, Tender Is the Night (1934).

Struggling financially due to the declining popularity of his works amid the Great Depression, Fitzgerald turned to Hollywood, writing and revising screenplays. While residing in Hollywood, he cohabited with columnist Sheilah Graham, his final companion before his death. After a long struggle with alcoholism, he finally attained sobriety only to die of a heart attack in 1940, at the age of 44. An unfinished fifth novel, The Last Tycoon (1941), was completed by his friend Edmund Wilson and published after Fitzgerald’s death.

F. Scott Fitzgerald – First Editions Identification Guide

How to Identify First Edition books by F. Scott Fitzgerald
YearTitlePublisherFirst edition/printing identification points
1920This Side of ParadiseNew York: Scribners, 1920Dark green cloth. "Published April, 1920" with the Scribner's Seal and no statements of reprintings.
Dust Jacket front flap has blurb doe This Side of Paradise; back flap has ad for Scribner's Magazine. Rear panel has list of sixteen titles, starting with "Blacksheep!" and ending with "Hiker Joy".
1920Flappers and PhilosophersNew York: Scribners, 1920Dark green cloth. "Published September 1920" with the Scribner's Seal and no statements of reprinting.
Dust Jacket front flap lacks critical review, no statement of printing. Dust Jacket spine lettered in black, back has ads, fourteen titles beginning with "Erskine Dale - Pioneer" and ending with "On a Passing Frontier". Front flap has Flappers and Philosophers blurb; rear flap has This Side of Paradise blurb.
1922The Beautiful and DamnedNew York: Scribners, 1922Dark green cloth. "Published March, 1922" on the © page and no statements of reprintings. Dust Jacket front flap has blurbs for 5th printing of Flappers & Philosophers and twelfth printing of This Side of Paradise; back flap has ten Scribners title. Back panel has signed photo of Fitzgerald with blurbs.
1922Tales of the Jazz AgeNew York: Scribners, 1922Dark green cloth. "Published September, 1922" with the Scribner's Seal and no statements of reprintings.
Dust Jacket front flap has blurb for the Beautiful and Damned; back flap has blurbs for fifth printing of Flappers & Philosophers and thirteenth printing of This Side of Paradise. Back panel has excerpts from Fitzgerald's annotated contents.
1925The Great GatsbyNew York: Scribners, 1925Dark green cloth. Title page date 1925, © page has 1925 and Charles Scribner's Sons seal and no subsequent printing statements.
Dust Jacket price of $2.00, back panel has lowercase "j" in "jay Gasby", hand corrected in ink to "J" in most copies.
1926All the Sad Young MenNew York: Scribners, 1926Dark green cloth. Three printings, priority as listed:
  • (A) Title page date 1925, © page has 1925 and Charles Scribner's Sons seal and no subsequent printing statements. Batter type on page 38, line 6-9 (left margin), page 248, line 21-24 (left margin) and 80 (folio).
  • (B-C) Same © page as above, but unbattered type.
Dust Jacket front flap has blurbs for Great Gatsby by Heywood Broun and others;  back flap has ads for Ring Lardner's "The Love Nest". The lips of the woman on the front show progressive batter.
1934Tender Is the NightNew York: Scribners, 1934Dark green cloth. © page has 1934 date with "A" and Charles Scribner's Sons seal.
Dust Jacket front flap has blurbs by T. S Eliot, H. L. Mencken and Paul Rosenfeld; back flap list books by Fitzgerald. Back panel has profile of Fitzgerald and blurbs for Tender is the Night. Later jacket has blurbs by Padraic Column, Gilbert Seldes and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings on front flap.
1935Taps at ReveilleNew York: Scribners, 1935Dark green cloth. © page has 1935 date with "A" and Charles Scribner's Sons seal. Two issues, priority as listed:
  • (A) Page 350, line 5-7: "--he need not base himself on the adding machine-calculating machine-probability machine.; page 351, line 15: "--and was", page 351, line 19-20: " Oh, catch it--oh, catch it and take it--oh, catch it"
  • (B) Page 350 line 5-7: "--need not base himself upon that human mixture of adding machines and St. Francis of Assis"; page 351, line 15: "--was"; page 351, line 29-30: "Oh, things like that happen whenever there are lots of men together. I".
Dust Jacket front flap has blurbs for Tender is the Night, back flap has blurbs for The Jazz Age and All the Sad Young Men. Back panel has blurbs for Taps at Reveille. The price of $2.50, which is rubber-stamped on the front flap of the Dust Jacket found in many copies.
1941The Last TycoonNew York: Scribners, 1941Dark blue cloth. © page has last date of 1941 with "A" and Charles Scribner's Sons seal.
Dust Jacket price of $2.75; front flap has blurb for The Last Tycoon; back flap has notes on Fitzgerald. Rear panel has photo of Fitzgerald by Eareackson.

F. Scott Fitzgerald – First Printing Dust Jackets Identification Guide

Gallery of First state Dust Jackets of Fitzgerald’s works. Only includes the first appearance in book form. Either the UK or US edition and does not include later printings.

Reference:

  • Wikipedia
  • Matthew J. Bruccoli: F. Scott Fitzgerald, A Descriptive Bibliography.

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