Letter to Arnold Gingrich
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

February 23 1940

Mr. Arnold Gingrich

919 N. Michigan Avenue
Chicago, Illinois

Dear Arnold:
As you know Edward J. O’Brien wants “Design in Plaster” for his anthology. Also Edward Everett Horton has approached me with the idea of making the Pat Hobbys into a theatrical vehicle for him. So my stuff is getting a little attention.

I intended to write you before about my nom de plume, John Darcy. My suggestion is that the first story be “Between Planes”; the next, the enclosed “Dearly Beloved”; third “The Woman from 21” and if you happen to like this poem, “Beloved Infidel”, and will seriously guard Mr. Darcy’s identity, it might interest your readers. It has a touch of Ella Wheeler Wilcox about it and some shadows of Laurence Hope and the early Kipling.

With best wishes always,

P.S. There will be another Pat Hobby on soon. I have written half of one but didn’t like it. The enclosed story, “Dearly Beloeved” is so short you can have it for $200.00, but I wish you would wire the money.

5521 Amestoy Avenue
Encino, California

F. Scott Fitzgerald to Arnold Gingrich: A Composition Date for “Dearly Beloved”

When  “Dearly Beloved,” a previously unpublished F.  Scott Fitzgerald short story, appeared in the Fitzgerald/Hemingway Annual i969, no date composition was assigned to it. Matthew J. Bruccoli, in a note to the limited edition of the story published by the Windhover Press (Iowa City, 1969 [actually 1970]) did suggest that “stylistic evidence places it late in Fitzgerald career; and Beauty Boy’s interest in Plato and the Rosecrucians recalls Negro fisherman in The Last Tycoon, the novel Fitzgerald was writing at death in 1940.” Now, on the basis of the 23 February 1940 letter from Fitzgerald to Esquire editor Arnold Gingrich printed below, it is possible to fix ‘ composition date of “Dearly Beloved” with reasonable certainty. Fitzgerald probably wrote the story in January or February 1940, shortly before the date of the letter: during this period he was completing early drafts of stories— which he would later revise by mail—and sending them to Gingrich for ready cash. The postscript to the letter suggests that this was the case with “Dearly Beloved.”

Fitzgerald’s letter covered two items that he was submitting to Esquire— the short story “Dearly Beloved” and a poem entitled “Beloved Infidel.” The poem was quite likely the one Fitzgerald wrote for Sheilah Graham in 1937 and entitled (characteristically misspelling Miss Graham’s name) “For Shielah, a Beloved Infidel.” The poem was first published in chapter seventeen of Miss Graham’s book Beloved Infidel (New York: Holt, 1958). A facsimile of Fitzgerald’s two-page manuscript of the poem is printed on the endpapers of the first edition of Beloved Infidel. As the letter shows, Fitzgerald wanted both the short story and the poem to appear in the series of pseudonymous writings that he was planning to publish in Esquire. At this stage of his plans he wanted his fictitious name to be John Darcy, a possible echo of Monsignor Thayer Darcy, a character in This Side of Paradise.1 Gingrich, however, apparently accepted neither “Dearly Beloved” nor “Beloved Infidel,” perhaps because Esquire rarely printed short short stories (“Dearly Beloved” runs a little under 900 words) and almost never printed poetry.

Other references of bibliographical interest in the letter are to Fitzgerald’s Esquire stories: “Design in Plaster” was published in the November 1939 issue and was selected by Edward J. O’Brien for his volume The Best Short Stories 1940 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1940). The story that Fitzgerald calls “Between Planes” appeared in Esquire for July 1941 as “Three Hours Between Planes.” “The Woman from 21” had been printed the month before. The Pat Hobby stories ran in Esquire from January 1940 to May 1941; Edward Everett Horton, the well-known entertainer from whom Fitzgerald was renting a house in Encino, never followed up on his idea to use the Pat Hobby series as a “theatrical vehicle.”

The letter, a typewritten, unsigned carbon copy kept by Fitzgerald after the original was sent to Gingrich, is in the collection of Fitzgerald correspondence at Princeton University Library. It is published here with the permission of Princeton University Library and Harold Ober Associates, Incorporated. Errors and inconsistencies in the letter have been preserved.

James L. W. West III (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University)


1 Only one Fitzgerald story was printed pseudonymously in Esquire; it was “On an Ocean Wave” which appeared, after Fitzgerald’s death, in the Feb. 1941 issue under the name “Paul Elgin.” For further comments on Fitzgerald’s plans to publish under a pen name, see Arnold Gingrich’s introduction to The Pat Hobby Stories (New York: Scribners,)

Published in The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America magazine (Vol. 67, №4, 1973).

Not illustrated.