F. Scott Fitzgerald
The writer who best captured the essence of what he dubbed the "Jazz Age," author F. Scott Fitzgerald was a man whose literary career and personal life were fueled by aspirations of success and ultimately damaged by the destructive influence of alcohol. At the age of 24, the young writer became an overnight sensation with his debut novel This Side of Paradise in 1920, allowing him to marry the girl of his dreams, wild child socialite, Zelda Sayre. Together they embarked on a legendary decade of overindulgence and bad behavior in the clubs of New York and on the shores of the French Riviera. Fitzgerald published over a 160 short stories - increasingly a necessity as the sales of his later novels steadily declined - and at the height of his creative powers he wrote The Great Gatsby, a book later considered by many to be the finest American novel of the 20th Century. By the 1930s, Fitzgerald's tumultuous marriage to Zelda, plagued by his alcohol consumption and her deteriorating mental health, exacerbated his writer's block and contributed to his professional decline, as the literary contributions of contemporaries like his friend Ernest Hemingway only increased. With Zelda institutionalized back East, Fitzgerald escaped to Hollywood in 1937, where he finished out his years as a frequently uncredited screenwriter until his death from a heart attack in 1940. His legacy, however, would only grow, as Fitzgerald's works remained continuously in print and inspired dozens of film, television and theater adaptations for decades to come.