F. Scott Fitzgerald was a handsome, ambitious sophomore at Princeton when he fell in love for the first time. Ginevra King, though only sixteen, was beautiful, socially poised, and blessed with the confidence that considerable wealth can bring.
Their romance began instantly, flourished in heartfelt letters, and quickly ran its course–but Scott never forgot it. Now, for the first time, scholar and biographer James L. W. West III tells the story of the youthful passion that shaped Scott Fitzgerald’s life as a writer.
When Scott and Ginevra met in January 1915, the rest of the world was at war, but America remained a haven for young people who could afford to have a good time. Privileged and mildly rebellious, the two were swept together in a whirl of dances, parties, campus weekends, and chaperoned visits to New York.
“For heaven’s sake don’t idealize me!” Ginevra warned in one of the many letters she sent to Scott, but of course that’s just what he did–for the next two decades. Though he fell in love with Zelda Sayre soon after learning of Ginevra’s engagement to a well-to-do midwesterner, Scott drew on memories of Ginevra for his most unforgettable female characters–Isabelle Borgé and Rosalind Connage in This Side of Paradise , Judy Jones in “Winter Dreams,” and above all Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby . Transformed by Scott’s art, Ginevra became a new American heroine who inspired an entire generation.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of eBook: The Perfect Hour|
|Release Date: 12-18-2007|
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|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
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The Perfect Hour
Chapter OneGinevra and Scott
Ginevra King was the eldest of the three daughters of Charles Garfield King, a wealthy Chicago stockbroker, and Ginevra Fuller King, his wife. There was money on both sides of the family, earned by Ginevra's grandfathers, both of whom were self-made men. Her paternal grandfather, Charles Bohan King, had come to Chicago from upstate New York in 1863. At first he worked as a wholesale grocer, then as a jobber in hats, caps, and furs. He eventually moved into banking and prospered, retiring in 1885 as president of the Commercial Safe Deposit Co. He was a Republican and a Presbyterian; he sent his older son, Rockwell King, to Harvard and his younger son (Ginevra's father) to Yale.
Ginevra's maternal grandfather, William Alden Fuller, was a native of Massachusetts. He began his working life in 1852 as a station agent for the Worcester & Nashua Railroad; in 1854 he came to Chicago and entered the lumber trade as a bookkeeper. Twelve years later, with backing from Potter Palmer, the dry goods magnate, he struck out as a dealer in building materials. He formed the corporation of Palmer, Fuller & Co.; the business was a success, and he became wealthy during the commercial boom that followed the Civil War. He belonged to the Episcopal Church and the Union League. Ginevra, as a teenager, knew him as a widower who lived in a large house at 2913 Michigan Avenue.
Ginevra's mother and father had married in January 1898, four years after he had taken his degree at Yale. When he wed Ginevra Fuller, Charles King was still a mortgage banker at Shanklin & King, a business backed by his father's money, but in 1900, when Gi...