In telling the story of College of One, it was inevitable that I would have to retrace some of the incidents of Beloved Infidel, the first correct account of F. Scott Fitzgerald's last years in Hollywood. The education devised for me by Scott took place during the same period. This new book, however, deals less with our relationship than with the courses of study he planned for me—the teacher and the pupil, our College of One. Where it does become personal—how could I write about Scott without also revealing what I felt for him?—I have tried to be objective, to see the man as he was, viewing him as calmly as possible, rather than as a woman in love with him so long ago.
The book has not been easy to write, and during the past two years I have sometimes wanted to abandon it. There can be few mistakes—none, if possible—in a book that deals primarily with education. I am not used to being so careful and I have found the constant checking of facts, and the remembering, exhausting at times. But each time I decided positively that I would not continue, I felt intensely depressed. College of One could not be thrown away. In a sense it is Scott's book—the story had to be told; an unusual man's ideas on what constituted an education had to be preserved. It is a new chapter to add to what is already known about an author who has been microscopically investigated in all the other areas of his life.
This is the last book I shall write about Scott Fitzgerald. My next book will be a novel, for which I already have the theme and title. When I write it, I will try to remember—as I have tried with this book—what Scott taught me about writing, not to use the first thought, or even the second, but to go deep inside the mind, to the third and fourth layer, so that what is translated into words is the best of which the writer is capable.
I wish to thank Scott's daughter, Mrs Samuel Lanahan, Jr, for her great generosity always in allowing me to “use anything you like” from the treasures of her father's papers. And my thanks go to Professor John Kuehl for his help before I started to write this book, and for his encouragement and insistence that I could do it; to Scott's secretary, gentle Frances Kroll Ring, who reminded me of several incidents I might have forgotten; and to Princeton University, which I am beginning to love almost as much as did Scott, for permission to quote from all documents relating to Scott. And most of all I wish to thank Mr Alexander Clark, Curator of Manuscripts in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections at the Princeton University Library, who with his assistant, Mrs Randall, was unfailingly helpful on my numerous visits to the Library as I sought the material for this book.