“My father belonged all his life to Princeton”
—Scottie Fitzgerald Smith
No major American writer is so closely associated with his university as F. Scott Fitzgerald, partly because Fitzgerald sticks in the public consciousness as a sort of perpetual undergraduate: charming, talented, and rather irresponsible. But the association is of Fitzgerald’s making as well. In his fiction, Princeton looms large in his first and immensely popular novel, This Side of Paradise, and serves as setting for several stories. In his life, Fitzgerald stepped up his references to Old Nassau as he grew older; in his last years he went out of his way to let even strangers know of his connection with the university. Towards the end, in fact, he fit rather neatly into the stereotype of the Old Grad.
The foundations for that feeling were laid early on. He decided on Princeton, the nine-year-old Scott told his playmates in Buffalo, after attending a Princeton Glee Club concert in 1905. Or he made the choice, according to a note in his scrapbook, after watching Sam White race ninety-five yards with a blocked field goal to score the winning touchdown at the 1911 Princeton-Harvard game. Or he opted for Old Nassau, he told Saturday Evening Post readers, when he came across the Triangle Club score for “His Honor the Sultan” in the spring of 1913.1 Or—and this is most likely—there was no one determining occasion but instead an accumulating impression that Princeton would suit him better than either Yale or Harvard, the only alternatives he seems to have considered.
Of the two, Yale was the more formidable rival—too formidable, for young Fitzgerald’s taste. He conceived of Yale men as “brawny and brutal and powerful” (like Tom Buchanan in The Great Gatsby) and of Princeton men as “slender and keen and romantic” (like Allenby in This Side of Paradise and the Hobey Baker he was modeled upon). In a letter to a college girl friend Fitzgerald made pen and ink sketches of the typical graduate of Princeton (well turned out, Roman in profile), of Yale (an unshaven thug), and of Harvard (an aesthete in monocle and flowing tie). Yet “in preparatory school and up to the middle of sophomore year in college,” Fitzgerald wrote in 1927, “it worried me that I wasn’t going and hadn’t gone to Yale.” He regarded Yale, clearly, as the breeding ground for success. But he wanted “something quieter, mellower and less exigent ... a moment to breathe deep and ruminate” before plunging “into the clamorous struggle of American life.”2
So young Fitzgerald entered the college of his choice on his seventeenth birthday, determined to make his mark. He was too small for football, he soon found out, and turned instead to his literary talent as a pathway to success. In November of his freshman year he was out for the Tiger, the campus humor magazine, and was writing lyrics for the Triangle Club. Most of his freshman spring was devoted to composing book and lyrics for the 1914-1915 Triangle show “Fie! Fie! Fi-Fi!”. Edmund Wilson, Jr. ’16 wrote the next year’s show, called “The Evil Eye,” but sent the manuscript to Fitzgerald in the summer of 1915 in hopes that he could “infuse into it some of the fresh effervescence of youth for which [Scott was] so justly celebrated.” Come fall, Fitzgerald did the lyrics for the show and took up his duties as Triangle secretary. A picture of him, dressed as a girl for the club’s famous chorus line, ran in the New York Times and provoked a number of responses. One chap—"Ralph Hale, general delivery, Milford, Connecticut”—proposed a rendezvous. “Look him up and kindly poison him for me,” Fitzgerald suggested to a girl friend.3
In May of his sophomore year, Fitzgerald was elected to the Tiger, a humor magazine he later characterized as not up to the standard of the (Harvard) Lampoon, (Yale) Record, and (Cornell) Widow “because most of the local wit was concentrated on producing the hullaballoo of the Triangle show.” His most notable contribution to the Tiger, he reflected in 1935, was starting a series called “International Petting Cues”—short takes acknowledging in print “that girls would be girls.” When the Tiger was late to press, he and John Biggs, Jr. ’18 sometimes slapped together an issue overnight.4
In Fitzgerald’s ledger for February 1916 appears the notation, “Began Spires and Gargoyles, the beginning of mature writing.”5 His hopes for a leadership role at Princeton were crumbling by that time and he increasingly turned his attention to serious fiction and poetry. This work appeared mostly in the pages of the Nassau Literary Magazine, the particular domain first of Wilson and then of John Peale Bishop ’17. Each of these men had read far more widely than Fitzgerald, and tended to regard him with a mixture of admiration (for his talent) and amused tolerance (for his ignorance). Each also became his lifelong friend.
In “The Spire and the Gargoyle”—the correct title of the story that eventually appeared in the February 1917 Nassau Lit—Fitzgerald attempted to come to grips with the academic troubles that effectively prevented him from taking his place among the leaders of his class. The spire stood for aspiration and high hopes, dashed by the preceptor-gargoyle. Matters came to a head in the fall of 1915, his junior year, when he made up geometry with the aid of tutoring but failed make-up examinations in Latin and chemistry. That rendered him ineligible for actual participation in the Triangle show, and after a bout of malaria in November he went back to St. Paul and watched when “The Evil Eye” played there over the Christmas holidays.6 Early in January 1916, his friend Bishop, who had been on that trip, exhorted him: “For God’s sake and your own get your conditions off and keep them off. I shall welcome you as next year’s Managing Editor [of the Nassau Lit]. . . . You will also probably get a certain minor office in the P A Club. Guess what? Oh, yes!”7 But Fitzgerald did nothing about his courses. On a February trip to Princeton he was formally flunked into the class of 1918. Back in St. Paul, he wrote a play for Triangle, but in May it was rejected, and though he once more wrote lyrics for the 1916-17 show and was again pictured as a showgirl, Fitzgerald was no longer a serious candidate for Triangle presidency.8
Considering his intelligence, Fitzgerald made a remarkably bad academic record at Princeton. Even before being admitted, he had to pass special entrance examinations. He failed three subjects his first semester, took fifth groups (passing, but barely) in three others, and managed but one fourth group—a solid D. In the spring he earned his first 3, or C, and passed everything else except mathematics. For the year he finished in general group 5, on the very brink of failure. As a consequence, he was declared ineligible to participate in extracurricular affairs in the fall of his sophomore year too. Despite that warning, he finished in the fifth general group once again, failing three subjects and taking so many cuts that an extra course was added to his schedule as a penalty.9 Then came the disastrous fall of 1915, when the roof fell in despite his success at coordinate geometry:
I’m off to the Math. School
To pass it or bust,
If Conics don’t get me
Then Politics must.10
Fitzgerald, who had gotten “tight in Trenton” his second month on campus, did a good deal of drinking during that unhappy autumn of 1915. He was then living in 32 Little, and would scrawl wake-up messages on the wall for Dale Warren, the freshman living in 34 Little: “Dale Warren wake me up at 7 sharp” or “Don’t let me miss my 8 o’clock.” The upperclassman “slept heavy,” Warren recalls. Warren’s routine was to “shake and yank the prostrate figure on the bed . . . search for socks, shoes and other articles . . . [and] somehow get [it] downstairs, out into the fresh air.” Once or twice Warren found Fitzgerald lying atop his rumpled bedspread, fully or partly dressed. One morning he was not there at all. The grapevine had it that ‘‘he had spent the small hours of the night on the dewy grass somewhere out behind the Peacock Inn.”11 Then, in November, Fitzgerald came down with malaria, thereby providing himself with an excuse for his academic shortcomings. ‘‘You can’t flunk out in November,” he is said to have told Ernest Hemingway many years later.
John Biggs, who roomed with Fitzgerald upon his return in the fall of 1916, has written that so long as Scott “could devote himself to the English courses, he, of course, did brilliantly.” But even there his performance hardly deserves to be called brilliant. Fitzgerald never flunked an English course, but he never made a first group either. Here’s the record by years. 1913-14: English 101, 4; English 102, 3. 1914-15: English 201, 3; English 202, 3. 1915-16: Dropped out. 1916-17, first term: English 301, 2; English 303, 3. During that fall 1916 semester, Fitzgerald also worked his way to a second group in Dean Christian Gauss’s course in French literature. But he failed Chemistry 201 and History 301.12 Still, his lackluster performance in English courses—a third group average —may have bothered him more than actually failing subjects for which he had little affinity, like chemistry.
In his December 1927 sketch of Princeton for College Humor he praised the college administration, and then singled out for mention “a fine philosophy department, an excellent department of classics, . . . and a surprisingly pallid English department, top- heavy, undistinguished and with an uncanny knack for making literature distasteful to young men.” John Duncan Spaeth, who lectured on romantic poets and coached the crew, was an exception, but the interest Spaeth generated was “later killed in the preceptorial rooms where mildly poetic gentlemen resented any warmth of discussion and called the prominent men of the class by their first names.”13 To Fitzgerald’s way of thinking, his instructors were hopelessly behind the times. “No one of my English professors in college ever suggested to his class that books were being written in America.”14
He had learned more about poetry from John Bishop, he wrote his daughter in 1940, than from any of his professors. Some of them “really hated [poetry] and didn’t know what it was about.”15 The lecturers were bad enough, according to the following bit of doggerel from This Side of Paradise:
Good morning, Fool…
Three times a week
You hold us helpless while you speak
Teasing our thirsty souls with the
Sleek “yeas” of your philosophy…
Well, here we are, your hundred sheep
Tune up, play on, pour forth… we sleep…16
But the preceptors were worse, and particularly his preceptor for English 301, “The Renaissance,” in the fall term of 1916-17. In the back of his copy of Sidney's Defence of Poesie, Fitzgerald lashed out with this judgment:
Gee but this man Griffin is terrible. I sit here bored to death and hear him pick English poetry to pieces. Small man, small mind. Snotty, disagreeable. Damm him. “Neat” is his favorite word. Imagine Shakespeare being neat. Yesterday I counted and found that he used the expression “Isn’t that so” fifty four times. Oh what a disagreeable silly ass he is. He’s going to get married. God help his wife. Poor girl. She’s in for a bad time. They say Griffin has made more men leave the English department than any other praeceptor in College. The slovenly old fool! I have the most terrible praeceptors.17
In a letter postmarked January 10, 1917, Fitzgerald again alluded to Griffin. “Just had a scrap with my English preceptor—he’s a simple bone-head and I’m not learning a thing from him. I told him so!” Undoubtedly young Fitzgerald was here showing off for the benefit of the girl to whom he sent the letter.18 But his impatience with his preceptor may have been partly justified as well.
Nathaniel Edward Griffin (1873-1940) came to Princeton as one of 47 new men added to the faculty in 1905 when President Woodrow Wilson instituted the preceptorial system. He had taken his doctorate in 1899 at Johns Hopkins (where his father was a dean) with a dissertation on Dares and Dictys: An Introduction to the Study of Medieval Versions of the Story of Troy. According to Professor Louis A. Landa of the Princeton English department, Griffin’s methods of instruction were somewhat eccentric. “In English 301 two weeks were allotted to the study of Hamlet. Griffin gave all of his time in the ‘precept’ to a line and a half describing the effect of the ghost on the watch: . . whilst they, distill’d / Almost to jelly with the act of fear. . . He spent the first meeting on ‘distill’d’ and the second on ‘fear.’ ”19
Griffin’s technique sounds very much like “pick[ing] English poetry to pieces.” Yet it might be argued in his defense that Fitzgerald’s own taste in poetry had hardly matured. He liked the romantic poets, especially Keats, he liked Shakespeare, and he liked Rupert Brooke. But he was totally unaware that Alfred Noyes—a member of the Princeton English department to whom he had been taking his own writing for criticism—was a poet at all. Furthermore, he produced a derogatory double limerick for the Tiger after hearing Robert Frost read his poems on campus:
A rugged young rhymer named Frost
Once tried to be strong at all cost
The mote in his eye
May be barley or ryeBut his right in that beauty is lost.
Though the meek shall inherit the land,
He prefers a tough bird in the hand,
He puts him in inns,
And feeds him on gins,
And the high brows say, “Isn’t he grand?”20
In an article on “Princeton and Fitzgerald,” H. Dan Piper has quoted with approval Glenway Wescott's judgment that “aside from his literary talent, I think Fitzgerald must have been the worst educated man in the world,” and observed that “Princeton was probably as much to blame” for this state of affairs as Fitzgerald himself.21 If so, he was quite forgiving toward the college. Only in letters to his daughter did he succumb to what sounded like bitterness: “I went back to junior year with Princeton in my pocket and it took them four months to take it all away from me —stripped of every office and on probation—the phrase was ‘ineligible for extra-curricular activities.’ ” But Fitzgerald was here exaggerating the maliciousness of the powers-that-be for daughter Scottie’s benefit.22 If nothing else, his academic record at Princeton provided him with plenty of material for repeated caveats to Scottie. Even before she matriculated at Vassar, Fitzgerald was warning her by way of his own sorry example: “What an idiot I was to be disqualified for play by poor work while men of infinitely inferior capacity got high marks without any great effort.” When Scottie went off probation in the spring of her freshman year, Fitzgerald once more resorted to argument by analogy: “I was incredibly happy when I heard the cloud had lifted. Don’t let it come down again! I was so happy when it lifted for me at Princeton and let me in for everything I’d wanted that I forgot. And the second time I never did manage to get out of a scholastic mess all the time I was in college. If you don’t get too happy this spring, don’t lose the ground you’ve gained—it’s going to be all right.” A year later, Scottie was busy writing book and lyrics for a Vassar musical modeled along Triangle Club lines, and Fitzgerald could not resist the role of Jeremiah. “You are doing exactly what I did at Princeton. I wore myself out on a musical comedy. . . . Result: I slipped way back in my work, got T.B., lost a year in college—and, irony of ironies, because of scholastic slip I wasn’t allowed to take the presidency of Triangle.”23 Bad luck with preceptors aside, Fitzgerald was not so much blaming Princeton as himself in these letters. As he wrote atop his ledger for 1915-16: “A year of terrible disappointments & the end of all college dreams. Everything bad in it was my own fault.”
When Scottie considered leaving Vassar at the beginning and again during December of her junior year, her father reacted with his warmest testimony to the value of his college education. “What on earth is the use,” he wrote to Zelda, “of having gone to so much time and trouble about a thing and then giving it up two years short of fulfillment. It is the last two years in college that count.” In his own case he had got nothing out of his first two years, while “in the last I got my passionate love for poetry and historical perspective and ideas in general (however superficially); it carried me full swing into my career.” Actually, Fitzgerald spent most of the 1915-16 year in St. Paul, but that hardly mattered, in retrospect. “The thing for which I am most grateful to my mother and father,” he wrote Zelda two days before his death, “are my four years at Princeton, and I would be ashamed not to hand it on to another generation so there is no question of Scottie quitting. Do tell her this.”24
Meanwhile, he had been conducting his own “College of One” for Sheilah Graham. Her book on the subject makes it clear that Fitzgerald was largely self-educated, and that he “needed to play teacher as much as the pupil needed teaching.”25 Fitzgerald, who had studied so little at college, had learned, somewhere along the line, to respect the process of learning. That may have been bequeathed to him by Princeton, but it was not the only item in the legacy.
Princeton was responsible for sharpening that acute social sensitivity which Fitzgerald had demonstrated even as a boy. His own family—Catholic, with a father who was ineffectual in a business way—hovered on the fringes of the social elite in St. Paul. Several of Fitzgerald’s stories, the Basil stories particularly, document young Scott's awareness of his precarious status in this midwestern pond. Back east, first at Newman School and then at Princeton, he was thrown into much larger lakes, but learn to swim he did. Much of This Side of Paradise, in fact, reads like a manual on how to succeed, socially, at the college above Lake Carnegie.
Education in the classroom takes on importance to Amory Blaine, the novel’s protagonist, and to most of his friends only as grades have a bearing on social position. Fitzgerald’s favorite scene in the book, according to Arnold Gingrich, occurs in the fall of Amory's junior year when he gets the results of a make-up examination. He knows that if he has failed the exam, he will be ineligible for the editorial board of the Princetonian and that his “stock will go down like an elevator at the club and on campus.” The fateful envelope arrives and Amory stages a little drama for his friends. A blue slip, he tells them, will mean his name must be withdrawn from the Princetonian candidates; a pink one that he has passed and is eligible. He tears open the envelope; holds the slip to the light; then, after an extended pause, announces the results: “Blue as the sky, gentlemen.”26 For Fitzgerald, as for Amory, it was the devil-may-care gesture that counted. This makes highly suspect his protagonist’s declaration, near the end of This Side of Paradise, that he “was probably one of the two dozen men in my class at college who got a decent education.”27
Though he knew that This Side of Paradise “rather damns much of Princeton,” Fitzgerald was not prepared for the reaction against it. Years later he looked back on his novel’s reception: “These weeks in the clouds ended abruptly . . . when Princeton turned on This Side of Paradise—not undergraduate Princeton but the black mass of faculty and alumni. There was a kind but reproachful letter from President Hibben, and a room full of classmates who suddenly turned on me with condemnation.” Hibben objected to the impression the book gave “that our young men are merely living for four years in a country club and spending their lives wholly in a spirit of calculation and snobbery.” Surely there was more to undergraduate life than mere social striving. As an admissions officer remarked long afterwards, “No one will ever know the damage Scott Fitzgerald did when he called this place a country club.” (Amory is attracted to Princeton, the novel reveals, because of its alluring reputation as the “pleasantest country club in America”).28
Fitzgerald’s reply to John Grier Hibben alternated wildly in tone. First the 23-year-old groveled at the feet of the great man (“I … confess that the honor of a letter from you outweighed my real regret that my book gave you concern”). Then he arrogantly attacked the lockstep curriculum, designed “for the average student,” as responsible for his academic troubles. But he loved Princeton now and meant to capture its beauty in his book, Fitzgerald went on. If the picture was cynical, so was the author, having adopted from Theodore Dreiser and Joseph Conrad (writers not then taught in the Princeton English department, being un- respectably modern) the view “that life is too strong and remorseless for the sons of men.” Still, Fitzgerald admitted to President Hibben that his novel “overaccentuate[d] the gayety and country club atmosphere. ... It is the Princeton of Saturday night in May. Too many intelligent classmates of mine have failed to agree with it for me to consider it really photographic any more, as of course I did when I wrote it.”29 Which is to say, really, that most of his classmates were less wholly caught up in the struggle for social dominance than he was. As a reproduction of the Princeton inside Scott Fitzgerald's head, the photograph was accurate enough.
Fitzgerald’s college career, like Amory Blaine's, reached its peak during the spring of his sophomore year. He was elected secretary of Triangle, made the Tiger board, and on the strength of those credentials was able to choose the eating club of his choice. These clubs marked the pinnacle of social success at Princeton, then and, to a lesser degree, now. Many sophomores spent months in nervous agitation before the annual spring bicker. But few underclassmen understood as thoroughly as Fitzgerald the character of the various clubs and their relative rank on campus.
In his essay on Princeton for College Humor (December 1927), he elaborated on the “big four”—Ivy, Cottage, Tiger Inn, Cap and Gown. Four years out of five, he wrote, Ivy was “the most coveted club in Princeton,” but occasionally one of the other three mounted a challenge to its supremacy. Cottage was architecturally the most sumptuous, “with a large Southern following particularly in St. Louis and Baltimore.” Unlike Ivy and Cottage, Tiger Inn cultivated “a bluff simplicity,” placing its emphasis on athletics while maintaining “a sharp exclusiveness of its own.” Cap and Gown had begun as an organization of “earnest and somewhat religious young men,” but during the last decade “social and political successes have overshadowed its original purpose.”
Clearly, Fitzgerald qualified as an apt and observant student of the club system. As he explained it, primer-fashion, to the readers of College Humor,
There are no fraternities at Princeton; toward the end of each year the eighteen clubs take in an average of about twenty- five sophomores each, seventy-five per cent of the class. The remaining twenty-five per cent continue to eat in the university dining halls and this situation has been the cause of revolutions, protests, petitions, and innumerable editorials.
… But the clubs represent an alumni investment of two million dollars—the clubs remain.
In yet another part of the article, he discussed the social credentials of the college’s undergraduates. “A large proportion of such gilded youth as will absorb an education drifts to Princeton. Goulds, Rockefellers, Harrimans, Morgans, Fricks, Firestones, Perkinses, Pynes, McCormicks, Wanamakers, Cudahys and duPonts light there for a season. . . . The names of Pell, Biddle, Van Rensselaer, Stuyvesant, Schuyler and Cooke titillate second generation mammas and papas with a social row to hoe in Philadelphia or New York.”30 The tone of such passages reflects that “double vision” so characteristic of Fitzgerald. On the one hand he stands back, the amused observer commenting on the barely competent “gilded youth” who like butterflies alight at Princeton “for a season.” On the other hand, the very recitation of prominent names suggests that like the mammas in Philadelphia he was subject to titillation through contact with the scions of famous families.31
A similar doubleness pervaded his attitude toward the clubs themselves. Though a snowstorm raged outside, it was a glorious March day for Fitzgerald when he turned down bids from Cap and Gown, Quadrangle, and Cannon in order to join Cottage with his old friend from Newman, C. W. (Sap) Donahoe. The following year, he made sure that the results of club elections were wired to him in his St. Paul exile. Arch rival Ivy, he learned, had “signed all they bid except Wilson,” who happily went Cottage instead. Yet by the spring of 1917 Fitzgerald was making sport of the whole bicker procedure in a satirical piece for the Tiger. This approach may have been encouraged by the anticlub movement of that year, led by Henry Strater among others (in This Side of Paradise, Strater appears as “Burne Holiday”). His idealism had “flickered out,” he wrote President Hibben in 1920, with the failure of the anticlub movement.32 But Fitzgerald never lost interest in his own club and its fortunes. Recognizing the superficialities and cruelties of the system, he nonetheless paid a full measure of loyalty to Cottage Club.
He maintained this loyalty through times when his relations with Cottage were far from auspicious. In 1920, newly married and newly famous as an author, Fitzgerald managed to get himself suspended from the club. He and Zelda came down from New York to chaperone house parties the last weekend in April. As chaperones they were far from exemplary: “We were there three days, Zelda and five men in Harvey Firestone’s car, and not one of us drew a sober breath.” Zelda brought applejack to breakfast in order to convert the eggs into omelettes flambees. She wore strong perfume. Scott introduced her as his mistress and was widely believed. He got into brawls and acquired a very black eye. It was, he wrote a friend, “the damnedest party ever held in Princeton.” But he did not anticipate the humiliation that awaited him the following week, when he drove down with Stanley Dell, John Peale Bishop, and Edmund Wilson on May 1 for a banquet of former Nassau Lit editors. The men had costumed themselves for the occasion and when Fitzgerald presented himself at Cottage wearing a halo and wings and carrying a lyre, he was ejected from a rear window as a token of his suspension from the club. Drunk or sober, he was deeply hurt.33
Fitzgerald next visited Cottage in an official capacity on January 19, 1928, when he returned as one of a series of distinguished alumni speakers. His fondness for Princeton had been stimulated the previous fall when he made several trips to the campus to watch football practice and to do research for the College Humor piece. But the speech itself was a disaster, for Fitzgerald—overcome with nervousness—could only mumble a few sentences before admitting, “God, I’m a lousy speaker!” and sitting down.
Once more he had disappointed others and embarrassed himself at his old club. “It was my first and last public appearance,” he wrote Dean Gauss, who had been in the audience, “and the awful part of it was that I really did have something to say.” Whether or not liquor affected his performance is in doubt, but after the debacle he did get properly drunk and insulted Edgar Palmer ’03, a Princeton trustee. He didn’t like Palmer’s looks, Fitzgerald told him; probably it was because Palmer had so much money.34
Such behavior later cost him considerable pain. Just how much can perhaps be suggested by Fitzgerald’s account of a nightmare that plagued him in the spring of 1931. “Earlier in this night I’d woken in a dream where there was a Princeton banquet. They all yelled for me to come in, but I was very drunk, so didn’t want to. To my intense embarrassment they turned a great spotlight on me which I tried to wobble out of.”35
Fitzgerald’s attempts to sponsor candidates for Cottage were twice unsuccessful. On both occasions he wrote letters of support for potential club members. The first of these, dated February 12, 1929, is now on display in the club library. “I know this is a terribly busy time for you,” Fitzgerald began, “but I want to give in the name of a sophomore and ask that he be called on or in some way looked over. His name is Whitney Darrow, Jr., his father is president of the University Press and very prominent in Princeton affairs, and the son was one of the first men on the Prince.”36 Fitzgerald had known the elder Darrow when he served as a sales manager at Scribner’s. The younger Darrow was to become one of the nation’s best cartoonists. He did not join Cottage.
The second, more elaborate, letter was on behalf of AndrewTurnbull, later Fitzgerald’s biographer. It is reprinted below:
November 14 1939
Chairman of the Club
University Cottage Club
Princeton, New Jersey
To many Cottage men of my generation it has been a source of regret that Baltimore (once almost as much a Cottage Town as St. Louis) now contributes so many of their boys to Ivy and Cap and Gown. This was frankly for several reasons —in the post war years a few prominent Baltimoreans, who were graduates of Princeton and of Cottage, succeeded in drinking themselves out of life and sight and Cottage was quite unjustly blamed for the business. The truth of the matter was that in those days the Baltimore boys were pretty sturdy drinkers before they headed northward. I’m told this has changed—but anyhow the origins of the charge are forgotten in Baltimore—but the prejudice remains.
Maryland will always be a great feeder for Princeton so I think such a prejudice is to be deplored. I lived in Maryland many years and made somewhat of a protegee of young Andrew Turnbull—used to take him and my daughter as moppets to the games from 1932 to 1935. I always took the children to the Cottage for lunch. Now, of course, if young Turnbull, a sophomore, is already tied up with some other group (I’ve never been really posted on the new system) then this letter is futile. But if he isn’t, he might be an opening wedge to the Baltimore trade worthy of consideration. He was a brilliant kid and fearless, despite his small stature. He had strong convictions, not always popular ones, which kept him from being a leader at Gilman, but I believe he was very well liked at St. Andrews. He will make his mark somewhere, sometime, I believe, and carry on the tradition of a prominent Baltimore family. His father graduated from Johns Hopkins; his grandfather graduated from Princeton in the early seventies.
This kid should be a good organizer and a credit to any club. Will you kindly call on him? If he’s sewed up for Cap, as might be the case, it’s no use, because Pepper Constable was long his hero. Otherwise, I think it might turn out as valuable an interview for the club as for him.
Humbly—and with Softly-Falling Grey Hairs,
F. Scott Fitzgerald
5521 Amestoy Avenue
Fitzgerald sent a copy of this letter to Andrew’s mother, Mrs. Bayard Turnbull. (The Fitzgeralds had rented “La Paix,” a house on the Turnbull family grounds outside Baltimore, during 1932 and 1933.) It would probably be “a little better for Andrew’s future,” he told Mrs. Turnbull, if Andrew joined “one of the so-called ‘big clubs’ at Princeton. . . . Only a few months ago Jimmy Stewart was telling me how it wrankled [sic] throughout his whole Princeton career that he had joined Charter instead of Cottage, which had been his father’s club.” And he relied on daughter Scottie to let him know “the fate of Turnbull and other Baltimorians” the following spring. In the end, Andrew went Colonial. Colonial was a good enough club, Fitzgerald wrote Scottie, “older than Cap and Gown, in fact.” Still, it might be best not to talk to Andrew about the subject at all.37
Though Turnbull’s candidacy stimulated his special interest, Fitzgerald regularly kept himself informed about the admissions competition between the big clubs. Among the many lists in his papers in Firestone Library are detailed comparisons of the leading clubs’ results for 1937 and 1938, with the prep school background of each admitted member duly noted. The list for 1937 confines its attention to Ivy and Cottage; the one for 1938 includes Tiger Inn and Cap and Gown as well. “I see, by the way,” he wrote Scottie on March 11, 1938, “that a boy named James W. Huntley has been admitted to the Cottage Club at Princeton. Did you know him in Baltimore?”38
Later, when Scottie herself went down from Vassar to Princeton weekends, she could see a memento of her father’s work on display. During 1933 and 1934, Fitzgerald was briefly caught up in the activities of the Memorial Committee of the University Cottage Club, whose prime mover was W. F. Clarkson ’17. Clarkson thought it would be a fine idea if the club’s walls were decorated with reminders of the glorious achievements of former members. At his request Fitzgerald sent a sample of his work—the “Good morning, Fool” poem, manuscript page 289 from This Side of Paradise. “A piece of writing done in the club, which has subsequently attained national attention, should be an interesting exhibit,” he wrote Clarkson on September 19, 1933, but don’t mount it, he added, before you have “at least a dozen photographs of the boys making touchdowns and other successes, which in the republic are considered really worthy of mention.” In due time Fitzgerald’s contribution (he had supplied the frame himself) was hung in the club library. Today it is proudly pointed out by members conducting informal tours of the premises at 51 Prospect Avenue. Fitzgerald could hardly have anticipated his posthumous fame, but in his last years it gave him pleasure to know that his old club, where he had so often failed, had recognized his importance in this modest way. “It seems like the fulfillment of something,” he wrote Scottie, “that you should go up to the library of Cottage and see that old poem hanging there.”39 Fitzgerald was proud of his club, yet he often deplored the system as cruel and arbitrary and unfair. His comments on the subject reflect a tension between emotional commitment and intellectual disapproval. “I’m just as glad Cottage lost out,” he wrote his daughter about the March 1939 elections. “The only healthy thing about the God-awful system is that no one of the four is triumphant for long.” In his November 13, 1939 letter to Mrs. Turn- bull, he found yet another justification for the clubs. “Nothing would please me better than that the whole snobbish system be abolished. But it is thoroughly entrenched there, as Woodrow Wilson saw.” And since it was so strongly entrenched, the only thing to do was to aim for one of the leading clubs. He himself might have felt “more comfortable in Quadrangle” with the literary crowd, but he “was never sorry” about choosing Cottage. As in the larger arena of life, one should try for the best: “College like the home should be an approximation of what we are likely to expect in the world.”40
In the last analysis, however, Fitzgerald was in favor of that deemphasis of the club system which has eventually come to pass. “I hope,” he wrote Ralph Church on December 17, 1940, three days before his death, ‘‘that the pictures and membership lists [of the clubs] will be eliminated from The Bric-a-Brac proper.” Alternatively, the yearbook might “print in addition pictures of all the clubs who eat at tables in Commons.” Princeton was slipping behind Harvard and Yale in its attitude “toward this monkey business.” What must the nonclub men feel when they bring the Bric-a-Brac “home with all that emphasis on Prospect Avenue”? The Fitzgerald who wrote this letter would have agreed with Edmund Wilson’s observation, in 1944, that the Princeton of the teens “gave us too much respect for money and country house social prestige.” He might even have seen the wisdom in Wilson’s further remark that “Both Scott and John [Bishop], in their respective ways, fell victims to this.”41
As with many another alumnus, a combination of appeals lured Fitzgerald’s thoughts back to his alma mater. The Tiger football team provided a convenient symbolic way of identifying with the university, and Fitzgerald was no casual fan. His interest in Princeton football went so far beyond ordinary bounds, in fact, as to demand separate treatment entirely. Suffice it to say that he was reading the alumni magazine and making notes on next year’s football prospects when he suffered his fatal heart attack in Hollywood on December 21, 1940.42 But the music, the setting, and the traditions he associated with the university also triggered his nostalgia.
Andrew Turnbull recalled watching the tears well up in Fitzgerald’s eyes as he waved his hat and sang “Old Nassau” one football Saturday in the early 1930s. He even sought to make his own contribution to the roster of Princeton songs. Back in 1915 he had written the lyrics to “A Cheer for Princeton,” the prize-winning entry in a contest for a new football song. That effort, with music by Paul B. Dickey ’17, never caught on, but Fitzgerald was still thinking along similar lines twenty years later. On January 16, 1935, he wrote a letter to Brooks Bowman, who had composed the most famous Triangle song of all, “East of the Sun,” for Stags at. Bay, the 1934-35 show. He complimented Bowman on the show, which he’d just seen, and then came to the point.
My suggestion is this; that your song “East of the Sun” with a few changes could be made into a fine piece for senior singing. The general line would be:
“East of the sun, west of the moon Lies Princeton,
South of the south, north of the north Lies Princeton,
Here in my heart etc. etc. Lies Princeton
The idea being, of course, that Princeton to Princeton men lies outside of time and space. It’s an over-sentimental conception but perhaps might mean something to the older alumni. If practical, you might try it out with the Glee Club quarter.43
Bowman may have realized that his melody was ill-adapted to such purposes. In any case, there is no record of his response. Among the Fitzgerald papers in Firestone Library, however, is the fragment of a lyric apparently intended as yet another Princeton song:
Keep the watch!
When-the-tread-of the many feet is still
Hold our place on the heights until
We-come-back-many thousand strong
Keep the watch—At Princeton44
Fitzgerald saw not only Stags at Bay but the next two Triangle shows as well when they came through Baltimore over the Christmas holidays. He went to a Triangle dance in December 1927.45 He attended Princeton dinners in London and Hollywood. He arranged for Maxwell Perkins to send him a copy of Edgar Day’s book of stories, In Princeton Town (Scribner’s, 1929), which he liked. But he was unimpressed by David Burnham’s This Is Our Exile (Scribner’s, 1931), another book with a Princeton background.46 He had Don Swann’s Princeton etchings framed to decorate his daughter’s room at Vassar in 1940.47 The physical beauty of the place, evoked by Swann’s etchings, helped to arouse the lyrical strain in Fitzgerald. Especially the spring: he wrote longingly of April “and the first real Princeton weather, the lazy green- and-gold afternoons and the bright thrilling nights.” Might they take a flat together in New York, Bishop asked Fitzgerald in a letter written on Armistice Day? “Shall we go wandering down to Princeton on fragrant nights in May?”48 Bishop had gone off to the Army in 1917 “fighting simply to keep the old way of things… fighting for Princeton, I suppose, for in spite of all its faults it somehow represents all that I want to hold on to.” But he understood that the old order must inevitably give way to the new. The same understanding pervades Fitzgerald’s valedictory “Princeton—The Last Day,” a 1917 poem of such “depth and dignity” that it persuaded Edmund Wilson to think of him “by way of becoming a genuine poet”:
The last light wanes and drifts across the land,
The long, low land, the sunny land of spires.
The ghosts of evening tune again their lyres
And wander singing, in a plaintive band
Down the long corridor of trees. Pale fires
Echo the night from tower top to tower.
Oh sleep that dreams and dream that never tires,
Press from the petals of the lotus-flower
Something of this to keep, the essence of an hour!
No more to wait the twilight of the moon
In this sequestered vale of star and spire;
For one, eternal morning of desire
Passes to time and earthy afternoon.
Here, Heraclitus, did you build of fire
And changing stuffs your prophecy far hurled
Down the dead years; this midnight I aspire
To see, mirrored among the embers, curled In flame,
the splendor and the sadness of the world49
Heraclitus was right. All things expire, nothing endures—least of all the essence of youthful hours.
Nor would the setting itself retain its physical appeal. In 1927 Fitzgerald had described Princeton as “a green Phoenix” rising “out of the ugliest country in the world.” The town was shielded from its sordid surroundings by “a ring of silence—certified milk dairies, great estate[s] with peacocks and deer parks, pleasant farms and woodlands… The busy East has already dropped away when the branch train rattles” up from the junction to “the loveliest riot of Gothic architecture in America.”50 With the depression came the breaking-up of the old estates and the departure of the old families who lent dignity to the place. “Nowadays,” he observed in an undated note, Princeton has become “an ‘advantageous residential vicinity’” inhabited by “many frivolous people.”
Fitzgerald could accept the residential transformation of Princeton only with a satirical curl of the lip. But he was unable to contemplate with equanimity any change in Princeton’s honor system. He had proclaimed the virtues of this “sacred tradition” in the 1927 College Humor article: “Personally I have never seen or heard of a Princeton man cheating in an examination, though I am told a few such cases have been mercilessly and summarily dealt with. I can think of a dozen times when a page of notes glanced at in a wash room would have made the difference between failure and success for me, but I can’t recall any moral struggles in the matter. It simply doesn’t occur to you, any more than it would occur to you to rifle your roommate’s pocketbook.”51 Having committed himself so unequivocally, Fitzgerald was shocked several months later to hear two undergraduates confess that they knew of instances of cheating that had gone unreported. He immediately wrote Dean Gauss wondering what could be done to restore the system’s integrity. Otherwise, “something has gone out of the life and pride of every Princeton man.” The real problem, Fitzgerald proposed, lay in the extension of the system to cover themes as well as examinations. This was going too far, he thought. In the case of exams, students traded their promise of honesty in return for freedom from supervision. But since themes “were never written under supervision,” the undergraduate received no benefit.52 In replying Gauss chose to ignore this point, perhaps to avoid alarming Fitzgerald with tales of plagiarism. Instead he pointed out that the question was a simple one: “Do the undergraduates wish to maintain the Honor System and maintain the prestige which has come to the University through its thirty-five years of successful history, or not?” There was little that Gauss could do. The system was an undergraduate affair, entirely. Fitzgerald took issue. Gauss was, “probably, the greatest educator in the country today,” he commented in the margin, but he was stalling and temporizing here. The administration, Gauss had written, has nothing whatever to do with the honor system. “But what,” Fitzgerald objected, “of the administration encouragement of the senseless extensions that have hurt the honor system?”53 Despite this temporary disillusionment, Fitzgerald maintained his adherence to the honor system. In “No Flowers,” a Saturday Evening Post story, he provided a dramatic reenactment of an early honor system offense. The young man in question has just been promised his girl’s hand, but when he tells her that he has cheated on an examination and must leave the university, she withdraws her acceptance.
“You had to know,” said Phil. “Sooner or later you’d have found out why I couldn’t come here any more—to this place I’ve loved so much.”
“Yes—I suppose I had to know,” she agreed; after a pause, she added: “You didn’t do it for me, Phil.”
“In a way, I did.”
“No, Phil. You did it for some part of you I’m not even acquainted with.”
Failure or drunkenness she would have forgiven, but they could hardly begin to build anything “on a foundation—of dishonor.”54 To the end Fitzgerald believed in the system. “Don’t be too hard on Princeton,” he wrote Scottie on July 18, 1940. “Harvard produced John Reed but they also produced Richard Whitney who I like to believe would have been spotted as a punk at Princeton. The Honor System sometimes has a salutary effect on light-fingered gentry.”55
Like many another Old Grad, Fitzgerald cherished Princeton’s place in history. In one of those articles written almost entirely by his wife Zelda but edited by Scott and signed by both Fitzgeralds, “ ‘Show Mr. and Mrs. F. to Number--,’” she referred to a 1927 trip up to Princeton where there was a new inn, but otherwise the campus “offered the same worn grassy parade ground for the romantic spectres of Light-Horse Harry Lee and Benedict Arnold.” Scott judiciously lined out Arnold and replaced him with Aaron Burr. Then he altered the end of the paragraph as well. His wife had written of the old brick of Nassau Hall and the elm walks of the campus and the meadows and the college windows open to the spring “which has inspired so much poetry.” Fitzgerald kept the descriptive material but omitted those six quoted words in favor of some real poetry of his own. Brick and elm, meadow and window lay “open to the spring—open, open to everything in life—for a minute.”56
Many alumni have felt similar sentiments about the evanescence of college days, but few could have communicated it with such a burst of eloquence. And only a dedicated history buff would have been inspired to prepare the following quiz, found in Fitzgerald’s hand among his papers in the Firestone Library:
1. What Princeton man plotted to break up the Union?
2. What son of a Princeton man tried to do it by force of arms?
3. What grandson of a Princeton man nearly conquered Turkey in 1915?
4. What Princeton man invaded Russia?
5. What Princeton man had a war called after him?
6. Next year’s Army and Navy captains come from the same small town. Can you tie that?
7. What Princeton man fought for the “Blue Laws”?
8. What Princeton man was a major scamp in Grant’s cabinet?57
Readers are challenged to answer any or all of Fitzgerald’s questions.
Fitzgerald’s attitude toward his university resembled that of the ardent suitor toward an uncapturable prize. As a young man he had failed at Princeton: failed to graduate, failed to make the presidency of Triangle, and, above all, failed to impress his friends as a man of promise. Consider the votes he received in the “class elections” column of the 1917 Nassau Herald.
- 2 votes
- 5 votes
- 7 votes
Thinks he is (Wittiest)
- 15 votes
Thinks he is (Biggest Politician)
- 8 votes
Thinks he is (Best Dressed)
- 2 votes
- 6 votes
tied with George M. Cohan and 54 votes behind Shakespeare
The image is that of a young man of some wit and attractiveness who unfortunately thinks he is rather more clever than is actually the case.58
Even in a literary way, Fitzgerald at Princeton was regarded with some amusement. Edmund Wilson recalled Scott’s saying to him, not long after they got out of college, “I want to be one of the greatest writers who has ever lived, don’t you?” But Wilson had not set his sights so high, for he “had been reading Plato and Dante. Scott had been reading Booth Tarkington, Compton Mackenzie, H. G. Wells and Swinburne.” In 1919, when putting together an anthology of pieces about the effects of the war on young Americans, Wilson asked Fitzgerald for a contribution in a mock jocular tone which betrayed a certain lack of respect:
No Saturday Evening Post stuff, understand! Let us have the Army as it is.—Come now! Clear your mind of cant! Brace up your artistic conscience, which was always the weakest part of your talent! Forget for a moment the phosphorescences of the decaying Church of Rome! Banish whatever sentimentalities may cling about you from college! Concentrate into one short story a world of tragedy, comedy, irony and beauty!!!!—I await your manuscript with impatience.59
In A Princeton Book of Verse II, published in 1919, there are three contributions from T. Scott Fitzgerald.60 Almost no one who knew him in those days thought he would become a famous writer, much less a great one. As Gregg Dougherty remarked, “We never thought he was a great literary figure around here… We just didn’t have the sense to spot him.”61
Such an image may have amused Fitzgerald at 20, but it would hardly do at 35, when he had come to regard himself—and wanted others to regard him—as a serious man and a writer of consequence. But during his lifetime, and for some years afterward, Princeton refused to accept Fitzgerald on these terms and remained stolidly indifferent to his advances on several fronts. In September 1934, for example, he proposed to Gauss that he come to campus to deliver a series of lectures “on the actual business of creating fiction.” He sought to forestall possible objections by pledging ‘‘to do no drinking in Princeton save what might be served at your table.” He also knew “there might be a barrier to crash in regard to the English Department” and asked Gauss to sound out the powers-that-be. He had a hunch, Fitzgerald added, that Gerould rather liked him. The hunch was off target, for it was Professor Gordon Gerould who used to argue that anyone whose English grades were as bad as Fitzgerald’s couldn’t possibly be the author of The Great Gatsby. Gauss tried to smooth things over. Why didn’t Scott talk to The Club, a group of undergraduates who met at the Nassau Tavern. But Fitzgerald already knew about The Club, and had turned down an invitation from them.62 He wanted to come back under the university’s umbrella. It was not opened for him.
Another overture took the form of a suggested underground library system. Fitzgerald sent his subterranean library proposal to Asa Bushnell on April 27, 1936, in response to a Princeton Alumni Weekly request for ideas, and even included an illustrative diagram. But as with the lecture series and the songs and the football schemes he used to send coach Fritz Crisler, his architectural suggestion was not adopted.63
Despite such setbacks, Fitzgerald continued to seek his university’s recognition. At least he could be heard through the humble medium of the class notes. Thus in 1938 he wrote to the class secretary commiserating about how hard it was to get into Princeton these days, even for the children of loyal alumni. “I understand,” he remarked, ‘‘because my offspring couldn’t get into Princeton either—so this fall she went to Vassar instead.” Two years later, on Nov. 28, 1940, he once more responded to the 1917 class secretary’s appeal for news, beginning with a lie about the status of The Last Tycoon and continuing with celebration of Scottie: “Just finished a novel. My daughter is a junior at Vassar and for two years has written the ‘OMGIM’ show there which is trying to be the equivalent of the ‘Triangle’ at Princeton.”64
Fitzgerald repeatedly told his Asheville secretary in the summer of 1935 about his loyalty to Old Nassau. Later he astonished a newspaper reporter in Hendersonville, N.C., with his minutely detailed knowledge about the Tiger football team. In Hollywood, during his last autumns, he set aside Saturday mornings and early afternoons to listen to Princeton games whenever they could be picked up on the radio.65 Clearly, he wanted to be regarded as a Princeton man. Undoubtedly that status gained him some measure of social esteem in the eyes of the unsophisticated. But it was no easier to impress his fellow members of Cottage Club than it was the academic authorities.
The official Cottage Club letter of condolence, following Fitzgerald’s death, aptly demonstrates the point. Duly signed by the chairman, treasurer, and secretary of the University Cottage Club of Princeton, New Jersey, and dated February 14, 1941, the letter hardly qualifies as a Valentine:
While an undergraduate, Scott was an outstanding member of the Cottage Club, being interested in every phase of the University’s social life, and his eagerness to dissect it on every occasion made him a rare companion—interesting, amusing, provocative, sometimes annoying, but never dull.
Perhaps unconsciously, he was laying the ground work for the very stories which afterwards brought him fame. In the years immediately following the World War, his brilliant novels and short stories made Scott one of America’s best known writers.66
This is a classic of faint praise, with each complimentary passage leavened by a dash of overt or implied disapproval. Fitzgerald had been an “outstanding” member of Cottage, a “rare” companion, but rather too outstanding and too rare. Obviously his annoying habit of dissecting the university’s social mores stamped him as an outsider, a parvenu. It was precisely this viewpoint—at once within and without the social world—which made Fitzgerald so valuable and perceptive as an author. But Cottage, while conceding his brilliance, concentrates on his celebrity (he was, one suspects, entirely too visible for the club’s taste). The unkindest touch of all comes in the last sentence, with its talk of his work in the years immediately after the war. The assumption is that Fitzgerald had written nothing worth mentioning since the early 1920s. Probably the authors of the letter had read nothing of his since those days. In fact, they were almost certainly thinking back to This Side of Paradise, with its emphasis on the social struggle at Princeton.
What is more, to some members of Cottage he would always be remembered as the drunken Fitzgerald of the immediate postwar years. Even during the early and middle 1930s, when he came up to the campus from Wilmington or Baltimore, Princeton sometimes served Fitzgerald as a place to drink. Early in 1933, for example, he visited the college during the period of physical and financial troubles. His notebooks record the result: “Finally trip to Princeton in February, unfortunate because I ran into old friends & feeling like a celebration I celebrated for the first time in over a year.” On yet another occasion, a taxicab driver rang the bell of Gregg Dougherty’s home in the small hours of the morning. “I got something for you,” he announced. It was Fitzgerald, who had come out from New York inebriated. He “was crying,” distressed about Zelda’s condition, and in bad shape himself. But he wouldn’t let Dougherty put him to bed in the house, so eventually his old classmate drove him down to the Princeton Inn and went off to his classes and labs. When he returned at mid-afternoon, Fitzgerald had gotten up and left. Dougherty never saw him again.67
Like an over-eager swain, Fitzgerald repeatedly made a hash of his courtship of his alma mater. Had she succumbed to his blandishments, he might have modified the idealized picture of Princeton he carried in his heart. But the university kept its distance and so remained, for him, a hallowed place. “I believe,” his daughter Scottie wrote in 1942, “that Princeton played a bigger part in his life as an author and as a man than any other single factor.” Then she added, “I hope that Princeton is as proud of him as he was of Princeton.”68 Only in recent years has that hope begun to be realized.
His own class has taken some steps to indicate its approval of his accomplishment. A class Christmas card in the 1950s, for instance, reprinted the Ed Fisher cartoon from the Saturday Review, which pictures a small boy at bedtime, his room decorated with Princeton banner, loving cup, polo mallet, and so forth, asking his father to “Tell me about the old F. Scott Fitzgerald days again, Dad.”69 At the time of the class’s 50th reunion in 1967, a facsimile of Fitzgerald’s letter to Maxwell Perkins asking that This Side of
Paradise be advertised in the Daily Princetonian was issued as a keepsake. The reunion book contained a photograph of the author, a brief biographical sketch, and an excerpt from his 1927 article on Princeton. Most significant of all was a faculty-alumni forum that year on “F. Scott Fitzgerald ’17—The Man, the Myth, the Artist,” chaired by Professor Willard Thorp with Alexander Clark, Landon Raymond, Andrew Turnbull, and James M. Kempf as speakers. The forum went off with dignity, save for “a rude and stupid comment from the audience by some dope in a ’42 blazer.”70
Such stupidity has become rarer since that reunion. Fitzgerald’s reputation as a writer has risen steadily, and it continues to rise. Someday it may even obscure the glow of celebrity that still surrounds him. Meanwhile, the university he loved has made some small gestures to reciprocate his devotion. Articles about him have appeared on several occasions both in the Princeton University Library Chronicle and in the Princeton Alumni Weekly. An award in his name to recognize “student creative writing achievement” was established in 1955.71 But Fitzgerald’s ghost might best be pleased to know that his papers, originally donated to the university by his daughter in 1950 and considerably supplemented by additions over the years, are examined more frequently by scholars than those of any other author in Princeton’s vast manuscript collection. He built his own monument with words.
Unless otherwise indicated, letters and notes cited below are among the Fitzgerald Papers at the Firestone Library, Princeton University.
1 Andrew Turnbull, Scott Fitzgerald (New York: Scribner’s, 1962), pp. 13, 36; Robert Sklar, F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Last Laocoon (New York: Oxford University Press, 1967), p. 7; Donald Marsden, “F and the Princeton Triangle Club II,” Fitzgerald Newsletter (Washington, D.C.: Microcard Editions, 1969), No. 36 (Winter 1967), pp. 247-249.
2 Turnbull, p. 42; F. Scott Fitzgerald (hereafter FSF) to Ruth Sturtevant, 21 January 191?, Alderman Library, University of Virginia; FSF, “Princeton,” College Humor (December 1927), p. 28, reprinted in FSF, Afternoon of an Author, introd. Arthur Mizener (New York: Scribner's, 1957).
3 Turnbull, pp. 50-51, 61; Edmund Wilson to FSF, 28 August 1915; FSF to Ruth Sturtevant, n.d., Alderman Library, University of Virginia.
4 F. Scott Fitzgerald's Ledger, in trod. Matthew J. Bruccoli (Washington, D.C.: Microcard Editions, 1972), p. 169: FSF to C. A. Wright, 24 April 1935; FSF, “Princeton,” p. 29. 5 FSF, Ledger, p. 170.
7 John Peale Bishop to FSF, 2 January 1916.
8 FSF, Ledger, p. 170.
9 Mizener, pp. 44-45, 55: FSF grade records in scrapbook; Turnbull, p. 65.
10 “Popular Preceptorials—No. 1,” Princeton Tiger, 27 (17 March 1917), 6.
11 Dale Warren, “ (Signed) F.S.F.,” Princeton University Library Chronicle, 25 (Winter 1964), 129-130.
12 John Biggs, Jr., “A Few Early Years,” Princeton Tiger, 68 (January 1957), 21; FSF grade records in scrapbook.
13 FSF, “Princeton,” p. 29.
14 FSF, “Poor Old Marriage,” The Bookman, 54 (November 1921), 253.
15 FSF to Frances Scott Fitzgerald, 3 August 1940, The Letters of T. Scott Fitzgerald, ed. Andrew Turnbull (New York: Scribner's, 1963), p. 88.
16 FSF, This Side of Paradise (New York: Scribner's, 1920), p. 108.
17 For the details of this account I am indebted to Wilson M. Hudson's thorough “F. Scott Fitzgerald and a Princeton Preceptor.” The article, among the Fitzgerald papers at Princeton, bears a memorandum from Hudson: “This is the final form of my article (unpublished because of personalities involved).”
18 FSF to Alida Bigelow, 10 January 1917. Letters, p. 450.
19 This anecdote is recorded by Hudson, pp. 3-4, with the conclusion that “perhaps Fitzgerald had some justification for his complaint of being ‘bored to death.'”
20 FSF, “Robert Frost,” Princeton Tiger, 28 (10 November 1917), 11.
21 Henry Dan Piper, “Princeton and Fitzgerald,” Princeton Alumni Weekly, 56 (9 March 1956), 10.
22 This passage (Letters, p. 94) seems to have been widely misinterpreted. Mizener writes of Fitzgerald’s “still hating vigorously the malicious and impersonal 'them' ” 25 years later (Mizener, pp. 57-58). Pursuing a similar line of thought, Charles Shain in his Minnesota pamphlet on Fitzgerald (Minneapolis, 1961, p. 14) concludes that “The narrowness of his educated mind, in one sense the failure of his Princeton education, can be fairly deduced from letters he wrote to his daughter studying at Vassar during the last year of his life.”
23 Letters. 18 April 1938, p. 28: [March 1939], pp. 52-53; 12 April 1940, pp. 69-70.
24 FSF, Ledger, p. 170; Letters, 14 September 1940, pp. 123-124; 19 December 1940, p. 133.
25 “College of One,” Fitzgerald Newsletter, No. 26 (Winter 1967), pp. 253-254.
26 Arnold Gingrich, “Salute and Farewell to F. Scott Fitzgerald,” Esquire, 15 (March 1941), 6; FSF, Paradise, p. 96.
27 FSF, Paradise, pp. 277-278.
28 FSF to Edmund Wilson, 10 January 1918, Letters, p. 323; FSF, “Early Success,” The Crack-Up, ed. Edmund Wilson (New York: New Directions, 1945), p. 88: Quoted in Mizener, p. 59; [John D. Davies], “Scott Fitzgerald & Princeton—A New Look at Old Legends,” Princeton Alumni Weekly, 66 (8 February 1966), 6; FSF. Paradise, p. 36.
29 FSF to John Grier Hibben, [3 June 1920], Letters, pp. 461-463.
30 FSF, “Princeton,” pp. 28-29, 130-131.
31 Malcolm Cowley was the first to perceive this double vision as characteristic of Fitzgerald's writing in “Third Act and Epilogue,” New Yorker, 21 (30 June 1945), 54-
32 FSF, The Crack-Up, p. 236; telegram, Harry T. Dunn to FSF, Scrapbook Record; FSF, “The Diary of a Sophomore,” Princeton Tiger, 27 (17 March 1917), 11; FSF to Hibben, Letters, p. 462; FSF, Paradise, pp. 120-121, 127, deal with Burne Holiday's leadership of the anticlub movement.
33 FSF to Marie Hersey, [May 1920], Letters, p. 460; Mizener, pp. 120-121; Turn- bull, pp. 107-108.
34 Invitation announcing Fitzgerald as Cottage Club speaker, Scrapbook III; Mizener, p. 226, writes that Fitzgerald took “a fair number of relaxing drinks”; Turnbull, p. 174, that he “made a point of having nothing to drink”; FSF to Christian Gauss, 1 February 1928, Letters, p. 384; interview with Gregg Dougherty, Princeton, New Jersey, 8 June 1978. Thornton Wilder to FSF, [early February 1928], advises Fitzgerald not to “brood about your speech in the evening; your speech in the afternoon was a roaring wow and the audience wants more.” This suggests that Fitzgerald may have spoken to some of Wilder’s Lawrenceville students on the afternoon of January 19, 1928. Robert Buechner ’22, on the 1955 NBC Radio News “Biography in Sound” devoted to Fitzgerald, recalled an occasion when Scott came to Cottage well fortified with liquor but after dinner sat on the hack of a chair and talked “brilliantly and perhaps sentimentally about Princeton and what he owed it and what he had gotten out of it.” Buechner did not specify when this happened.
35 FSF, “Mr. Consumer! Do You Ever Figure Cost Plus?”
36 FSF to “Dear ney,” 12 February 1929.
37 A copy of the letter recommending Turnbull is at Princeton; FSF to Mrs. Bayard Turnbull, 13 November 1939, Letters, pp. 444-445; FSF to Frances Scott Fitzgerald, Letters, 15 March 1940, p. 65; 18 March 1940, p. 66.
38 He may have paid special attention to the results of 1937 and 1938 in order to write the most informed letter possible for Andrew Turnbull; FSF to Frances Scott Fitzgerald, 11 March 1938, Letters, p. 34.
39 FSF to W. F. Clarkson, 19 September 1933: Frances Fitzgerald Lanahan, “Princeton & My Father,” Princeton Alumni Weekly, 56 (9 March 1956), 8.
40 FSF to Frances Scott Fitzgerald, [March 1939], Letters, p. 53; FSF to Mrs. Bayard Turnbull, Letters, p. 445.
41 FSF to Ralph Church, Letters, p. 605; Edmund Wilson to Christian Gauss, Papers of Christian Gauss, ed. Katherine Gauss Jackson and Hiram Haydn (New York: Random House, 1957), p. 340.
42 Turnbull, p. 321.
43 Turnbull, p. 249; “F Football Song,” Fitzgerald Newsletter, No. 31 (Fall 1965), pp. 201-202; “A Cheer for Princeton,” Fitzgerald Newsletter, No. 33 (Spring 1966), pp. 221-223; FSF to Brooks Bowman, 16 January 1935, reprinted in Fitzgerald/ Hemingway Annual 1974 (Englewood, Col.; Microcard Editions, 1975), pp. 9-10.
44 FSF, typed song, “Literary Notes.”
45 FSF, Ledger, pp. 180-182, December 1935 and December 1936 (unpaginated), nated).
46 FSF to Maxwell Perkins, Letters; [c. 15 November 1929], pp. 216-217; [before 21 May 1931], p. 225.
47 FSF to Frances Scott Fitzgerald, 5 September 1940, Letters, p. 94.
48 FSF, “The Bowl,” Saturday Evening Post, 200 (21 January 1928), 94; John Peale Bishop to FSF, 11 November 1918.
49 John Peale Bishop to FSF, 27 December 1917: Edmund Wilson to FSF, 7 October 1917; FSF, “Princeton—The Last Day,” Nassau Literary Magazine, 73 (May 1917), 95, reprinted in prose form in FSF, Paradise, pp. 153-154.
50 FSF, “Princeton,” p. 28.
51 FSF, “Princeton,” p. 130.
52 FSF to Christian Gauss, 1 February 1928, Letters, p. 383.
53 Christian Gauss to FSF, 2 February 1928. Gauss may have failed to discuss Fitzgerald's point about extension of the honor system because he was replying to a telegram Fitzgerald sent and not to the February 1 letter which elaborated on the telegram.
54 FSF, “No Flowers,” Saturday Evening Post, 207 (21 July 1934), 11.
55 Letters, p. 86. Richard Whitney was involved in stock market fraud.
56 F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, “ 'Show Mr. and Mrs. F. to Number___,’ Esquire, 2 (June 1934), 23. The quotation about Princeton appears on pages 15-16 of the manuscript in the Zelda Fitzgerald papers.
57 FSF, Note.
58 Nassau Herald results arc printed in the Fitzgerald Newsletter, №.2 (Summer 1958), p. 6.
59 Edmund Wilson, “Thoughts on Being Bibliographed,” Princeton University Library Chronicle, 5 (February 1944), 54; Edmund Wilson to FSF, 9 August 1919.
60 A Book of Princeton Verse II, ed. Henry Van Dyke, Morris William Croll, Maxwell Struthers Burt, and James Creese, Jr. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1919). The initial is wrong in the index and again at the bottom of each of the three Fitzgerald poems included: “Marching Streets,” “The Pope at Confession,” and “My First Love."
61 Interview with Gregg Dougherty, New York Times, 31 July 1977, Section 11, New Jersey Weekly, pp. 1-4.
62 Letters, pp. 386-387; Turnbull, pp. 250-251; [John D. Davies], “Scott Fitzgerald & Princeton,” p. 14.
63 Letters, p. 534. The original of this letter has recently been purchased by the Princeton University Library.
64 FSF to Harvey H. Smith, Fall 1938 and 28 November 1940; Stanley Olmsted, “Fitzgerald Sets Things Right About His College: Princeton a Hard Place to Get Into, F. Scott Insists,” newspaper article in Scrapbook III. "omgim” stands for “Oh, my God, it’s Monday.”
65 “I Knew Scott Fitzgerald,” four-page reminiscence of FSF visit to Hendersonville; FSF to Frances Scott Fitzgerald, 2 November 1940, Letters, p. 97.
66 Letter addressed to Mrs. Scott Fitzgerald on letterhead of Harold H. Short, secretary of Cottage Club.
67 FSF, Note, “Sequence of Events”; Interview with Gregg Dougherty, New York Times. This visit may have occurred in March 1935. See FSF Ledger for that month.
68 Lanahan, “Princeton & My Father,” pp. 8-9.
69 Class of ’17 Christmas card, n.d.
70 “Reunion,” Fitzgerald Newsletter, No. 38 (1967), pp. 276-277.
71 “Writing Award Set Up,” New York Times, 21 November 1955, p. 31.
Published in The Princeton University Library Chronicle (Volume XL, Number 2, Winter 1979).