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The two of them taking hands after a concert and running like the wind - like two young hawks - down crowded 57th Street, in and out of traffic …

Scott and Zelda at the theatre sitting quietly during the funny parts and roaring when the house was still …

The Fitzgeralds played to a fantastical notion of themselves, losing sight of the reality, that they were a couple of limited means. Here, they rented a house and Scott worked on The Great Gatsby, although he failed to finish it, unsurprising given that he was working in a house one of whose rules was "visitors are required not to break down doors in search of liquor." It was decided that the family would move to France, and in 1924 the pair set sail with their daughter Scottie.

"We tried to manage without a butler, but Zelda cut her wrist on a can of baked beans," he recalled. Of course, this being Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, France meant Paris and the Riviera, the Cap d'Antibes, Cole Porter, Hemingway, Picasso and Chanel, the clubs of Montmartre and the Left Bank.

A courtship ensued, interrupted by Scott's departure to France - the war was over before he arrived - and his efforts to get his writing career off the ground in New York.

Correspondence between them from the time reveals their dynamic, with Zelda, who broke off the engagement at one stage, taunting Scott with stories of other suitors.

It was not until Fitzgerald's first novel, This Side of Paradise, was accepted by publishers, and he was "the man with the jingle of money in his pocket" as he wrote, that she consented to marriage, and in 1920, a week after the book was published to huge acclaim, they wed.

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His astounding natural abilities in this field - 160 published in his lifetime, produced despite constant drinking and debauchery - led many to underestimate the genius of the man; he made it look too easy. There was an entanglement with a French pilot, quite how far this went is unclear.

As always with Fitzgerald, he at once idealises a thing and simultaneously reveals its flaws; what Jay Gatsby worships reveals itself to be shallow and selfish, and his own methods of achieving wealth have been corrupt to say the least.

In the dark conclusion of his novel, Fitzgerald revealed a certain prescience when it came to his own marriage.

Born on September 24, 1896, exactly 120 years ago this week, Fitzgerald was good looking and charming.

He was the son of Catholic parents of straitened means, spoilt by his mother, who had possibly, biographer Arthur Mizener suggests, given him unrealistic expectations of life. a mother (can do) to a son by attaching them too closely: afterwards, out in the world, the child would seek in the marriage partner the same blind tenderness and, failing probably to find it, turn against love and life," Fitzgerald later wrote.

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