|Fitzgerald was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and attended prep school, then Princeton University. ("I was always the poorest boy at a rich man's school," he claimed.) He was a lackluster student; when he dropped out to enlist in the army during World War I, he was on academic probation. The armistice was signed before Fitzgerald could see service, and he was discharged in 1919. He began writing THIS SIDE OF PARADISE, based on his Princeton years, when he was 21, and was 24 when it was published. The success of the novel--which was called by Edmund Wilson "one of the most illiterate books of any merit ever published"--enabled him to marry Zelda Sayre, whose family disapproved of him and his prospects. Fitzgerald gained growing celebrity as a major new voice in American fiction, and he and Zelda became the 1920s' equivalent of jet-setters, dividing their time between New York, Paris, and the Riviera--part of the circle of American expatriates that included Gertrude Stein, Hemingway, and Dos Passos, writers about whom Stein coined the term "the lost generation." Fitzgerald continued to write all his life, including the obligatory stint in Hollywood, but was gradually taken over by alcoholism and the general dissolution of his life, and many of his later years were plagued by doubt, debt, and failure. He died at the absurdly young age of 44, of a heart attack.