We’re fortunate enough to have been home to many great writers—Garrison Keillor, Sinclair Lewis, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Vince Flynn, etc.—but one of our most notable, perhaps, is Mr. F. Scott Fitzgerald. Before he conquered the literary world and moved on to the glamour of Hollywood he placed his roots in St. Paul—117 years ago this Tuesday, Sept. 24. In honor of his birthday, the Minnesota Historical Society is hosting events that will take you to the places he frequented and teach you about how his life here influenced his literary career.
Photo by Todd Buchanan
Having been born in St. Paul, this is where he spent a great deal of his youth. Explore this area on a 75-minute guided walking tour that will start at the James J. Hill House (Fitzgerald referenced Hill in The Great Gatsby), and stop at his birthplace (481 Laurel Avenue), where he wrote his first novel, This Side of Paradise (599 Summit Avenue) and the Commodore Hotel, where he lived with his wife, Zelda. Along the way, the guide will discuss his early years, life with Zelda, how the city impacted his work, and connections he had to other prominent neighbors.
For an extended, self-guided walking tour, make your way to these spots.
Gather even more insight into his past at a lecture at the Minnesota History Center which will discuss his secret boyhood diary, which he titled “Thoughtbook.” In this he chronicled exploits among friends, childish rivals and first love interests, which eventually became inspiration for The Book of Scandal, seen in his Basil Lee Duke stories. David Page, editor of The Thoughtbook of F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Secret Boyhood Diary, which was published this year by the University of Minnesota Press, will be there to discuss this early work and what it discloses about his childhood and him as a writer.
F. Scott Fitzgerald Walking Tour
Sept. 21 & 22, 1 & 3 p.m.
Tickets: $12 adults, $10 seniors and college students, $8 children 6-17, $2 discount for MHS members
Reservations required: 651-297-2555
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Secret Boyhood Diary
Oct. 15, 7 p.m.