F. Scott Fitzgerald is widely acclaimed as being one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century, but little has been known about his own personal choice of literature.
A list containing 22 books that F. Scott Fitzgerald thought were essential reading has just come to light, which the author of The Great Gatsby dictated to his nurse while convalescing in a North Carolina hotel in 1936.
The hard-drinking F. Scott Fitzgerald was battling alcoholism, and struggling financially.
The writer’s wife, Zelda, had recently been admitted to the nearby psychiatric Highland Hospital in Asheville.
It was a dark time for the 40-year-old.
Esquire had recently published his essay The Crack Up, in which F. Scott Fitzgerald stated “my life had been a drawing on resources that I did not possess, that I had been mortgaging myself physically and spiritually up to the hilt”.
That summer he had fractured his shoulder while diving into the hotel swimming pool.
According to Michael Cody, at the University of South Carolina’s F. Scott Fitzgerald’s website, he had also fired a revolver in a suicide threat.
It was after this incident that the hotel where he was staying in Asheville, the Grove Park Inn, refused to let him continue living there unless he had a nurse to look after him.
Michael Cody states: “He was attended thereafter by Dorothy Richardson, whose chief duties were to provide him company and try to keep him from drinking too much.
“In typical Fitzgerald fashion, he developed a friendship with Miss Richardson and attempted to educate her by providing her with a reading list.”
According to website Open Culture, which published the list, at the top of the page, Dorothy Richardson had written: “These are books that Scott thought should be required reading.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s essential reading:
1. Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser
2. The Life of Jesus by Ernest Renan
3. A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen
4. Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson
5. The Old Wives’ Tale by Arnold Bennett
6. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
7. The Red and the Black by Stendhal
8. The Short Stories of Guy De Maupassant
9. An Outline of Abnormal Psychology edited by Gardner Murphy
10. The Stories of Anton Chekhov
11. The Best American Humorous Short Stories
12. Victory by Joseph Conrad
13. The Revolt of the Angels by Anatole France
14. The Plays of Oscar Wilde
15. Sanctuary by William Faulkner
16. Within a Budding Grove by Marcel Proust
17. The Guermantes Way by Marcel Proust
18. Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust
19. South Wind by Norman Douglas
20. The Garden Party by Katherine Mansfield
21. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
22. John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley: Complete Poetical Works