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English Composition

English Composition

Author: Lainey Warfield

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Effective Writing

Biography of a Writer

Grab your audience's attention with an interesting fact or question. Connect this attention grabber to your subject. Introduce your subject (in this case, your author). State your thesis- preview your three main ideas.

FIRST BODY PARAGRAPH: Biographical information about your author. 
-Their birthplace and childhood
-Their education
-Their adult life

SECOND BODY PARAGRAPH: The time period your author grew up in.
-Their generation
-Important event(s) that affected the world during their formative years
-Are there any events that affected their writing? Did the time period itself affect their writing?

Your author's work.
-Your author's main audience demographic (who they write for)
-Sample their work- list two or three of their most well-known books
-What you personally like about their work

Bring everything together. Connect your three body paragraphs with a restatement of your thesis. End with a sentence that gives a sense of finality. Do not introduce any new information in the conclusion paragraph.

For this paper, please provide the URLs of the .org websites, author-owned websites, or encyclopedic websites you used in your research. MLA citation is not needed for this paper.

Sample Essay: F. Scott Fitzgerald

     The 1920’s were years filled with excess and hedonism as a result of the horrors of World War I. The younger folks, those in their twenties and thirties, had seen senseless death and war, and many lost faith in traditional values. This led to a search for wealth and material happiness instead of a pursuit of traditional values. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s life and work displayed the disillusionment experienced by the Lost Generation after WWI (Dickstein).

     More than nine million deaths resulted from WWI. Those known as the “Lost Generation” were the young people left in the wake of WWI’s devastation. The term was coined from something Gertrude Stein, another author from the same time period as Fitzgerald, heard the owner of a garage say to his young employee: “You are all a lost generation.” Ernest Hemingway later used this phrase as an epigraph in his novel The Sun Also Rises, published in 1926. This meant that generation was experiencing a lack of
purpose and drive because of the disillusionment they’d seen as they lived through and grew up during the war, and were now in their twenties and thirties. This disillusionment caused many to lose their faith in the traditional values of the time, like courage, patriotism, and masculinity (Dickstein). That, in turn, caused some to become recklessly hedonistic, unable to believe in the abstract ideals they’d seen torn to shreds during the war (O’Connor).

     In literature, the term Lost Generation describes the group of writers and poets of this period. All of them were American, but several members emigrated to Europe. The most famous members of the literary Lost Generation were Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, T.S. Eliot, and F. Scott Fitzgerald (Dickstein). These writers shared a common set of themes in their work. One of these was decadence. James Gatsby from Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby threw extravagant parties, as did many of Fitzgerald’s characters in his Tales of the Jazz Age. This was how the lives of the young and rich were in the aftermath of WWI, filled with shallow interactions
and a carefree, frivolous feeling (Dickstein). Another theme shared by many writers of the Lost Generation, especially Fitzgerald, was that of an idealized past (Dickstein). Instead of confronting the horrors they’d seen in warfare, the writers chose to work on creating a romantic, idealized, unattainable image of the past. The best example of this is Gatsby’s idealization of Daisy and his inability to see her as she truly was. The last lines of The Great Gatsby display this:
"Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year
recedes before us. It eludes us then, but that’s no matter- to-morrow we
will run faster, stretch our arms farther… And one fine morning—
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the

     This meant that Gatsby clung to his idealized vision of Daisy and the future to the point of his own detriment because of its impossible, exalted promise that tomorrow would be the day that everything was finally as he wanted it, his perfect vision. That promise was always unattainable, but its beauty made him believe in it enough to strive for it anyway (Dickstein). F. Scott Fitzgerald was born on September 24th , 1896, in St. Paul, Minnesota. His father, Edward Fitzgerald, was a wicker furniture maker and then a salesman for Procter & Gamble, which required the family to move around a lot. His mother, Mary McQuillan, was from an Irish-Catholic family that made a small fortune as wholesale grocers. When Edward lost his job with Procter & Gamble in 1908, the family moved back to St. Paul to live off of Mary’s inheritance (“F.”). Fitzgerald was the pride and joy of his parents, especially his mother. He attended the St. Paul Academy, and when he was 13 saw his first piece of writing appear in print there- a detective story, published in the school newspaper. When Fitzgerald was 15, his parents send him to the Newman School, which was a Catholic preparatory school in New Jersey. While at Newman, he met Father Sigourney Fay, who encouraged his literary ambitions (Mizener). When he graduated from Newman in 1913, Fitzgerald decided to stay in New Jersey and develop his talents at Princeton University. He dedicated his efforts to writing, writing scripts for Princeton’s Triangle Club musicals, articles for the Princeton Tiger magazine, and stories for the Nassau Literary Magazine. This dedication came at a cost, however, and he was placed on academic probation. In 1917, Fitzgerald dropped out of
school to join the U.S. Army (“F.”). In the weeks before reporting for duty, Fitzgerald wrote a novel called The Romantic Egotist and sent it to a publisher, afraid of dying in WWI without having accomplished his literary dreams. The publisher, Charles Scribner’s Sons, rejected the novel, but the reviewer thought it was original and encouraged Fitzgerald to submit more
work in the future (Mizener). Commissioned a second lieutenant in the infantry, Fitzgerald was assigned to Camp Sheridan outside of Montgomery, Alabama. While he was there, he met and fell in love with Zelda Sayre, the 18-year-old daughter of an Alabama Supreme Court judge. Before Fitzgerald could be deployed, the war ended in 1918. Upon his discharge, he moved to New York, hoping to build an advertising career that made enough profit to
convince Zelda to marry him. However, after only a few months, Fitzgerald quit his job and returned to St. Paul to rewrite his novel. (“F.”) The new incarnation of the novel, This Side of Paradise, was published in 1920 to
good reviews, and turned Fitzgerald into one of the country’s most promising young writers nearly overnight. A week after the publication of This Side of Paradise, Zelda Sayre married Fitzgerald in New York. They had one daughter together, Frances Scott Fitzgerald, in 1921 (Bruccoli). Fitzgerald embraced his new status as a celebrity and took advantage, leading an
extravagant life that earned him a reputation as a playboy and hurt his reputation as a writer. After moving to Valescure, France, Fitzgerald wrote what would become known as his greatest work, The Great Gatsby. The novel was well-received, but it wasn’t until the 50’s and 60’s, long after Fitzgerald’s death, that it achieved its stature as the portrait of the 20’s and one of the best American novels ever written (Willet). After he completed The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald’s life began to unravel. He progressed into alcoholism and suffered writer’s block. His wife, Zelda, suffered two breakdowns, the second from which she never recovered. She was admitted to several hospitals for treatment. Fitzgerald wrote a commercially unpopular but moving novel entitled Tender Is the Night about the deterioration of a brilliant American psychiatrist during his marriage to a wealthy mental patient (Bruccoli). 

     On December 21 st , 1940, Fitzgerald died of a heart attack in his lover’s, movie columnist Sheilah Graham’s, apartment. He died believing that he was a failure. His obituaries were condescending, and he seemed doomed to obscurity. It wasn’t until 1960 that he had joined the ranks of America’s enduring writers, 20 years after his death (Mizener). His life and his work shared many parallels and displayed the hedonistic and tragic tendencies of the Lost Generation as it was disillusioned by war.

Works Cited

"F. Scott Fitzgerald." A&E Networks Television, 22 Feb. 2017. Web. 17
Apr. 2017.
Bruccoli, Matthew J. "A Brief Life of Fitzgerald." Biography of F. Scott Fitzgerald. The
F. Scott Fitzgerald Society, 1 Apr. 2012. Web. 19 Apr. 2017.
Dickstein, Morris, and James R. Giles. "American Literature." Encyclopædia Britannica.
Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 17 Feb. 2017. Web. 19 Apr. 2017.
Mizener, Arthur. "F. Scott Fitzgerald." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia
Britannica, inc., 09 Feb. 2017. Web. 20 Apr. 2017.
O'Connor, Kate. "Lost Generation." Great Writers Inspire. University of Oxford, 1 Jan.
2017. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.
Willet, Erika. "F. Scott Fitzgerald and the American Dream." PBS. Public Broadcasting
Service, 1 Jan. 2015. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.

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