Asheville, North Carolina, has a rich literary history, from Thomas Wolfe and O. Henry to Gail Godwin and Charles Frazier. Included among the authors with ties to Asheville is one of the 20th century’s greatest novelists, F. Scott Fitzgerald, as well as his wife, Zelda Fitzgerald, who was treated at Asheville’s Highland Hospital, a psychiatric facility.
Given the setting of this year’s Winter Institute in Asheville, the American Booksellers Association is especially pleased to announce that two authors whose recent works feature Fitzgerald and his writing will be part of a special conversation about the writer.
Maureen Corrigan, author of So We Read On: How the Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures (Little, Brown) and Stewart O’Nan, author of West of Sunset (Viking, to be published in January 2015), a novel of Fitzgerald’s last years in Hollywood, will share their insights and observations about the writer, his works, and his times. The session will be moderated by bestselling author Erik Larson, author of Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania (Crown, to be published in March 2015).
The featured talk “The Man in Room 441: A Conversation About F. Scott Fitzgerald, With Maureen Corrigan, Stewart O’Nan, and Erik Larson” is set for Tuesday, February 10, from 10:20 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.
Fitzgerald spent the summers of 1936 and 1937 in Asheville at the historic Grove Park Inn, taking two rooms, 441–443, with a view of the hotel’s entrance. As English professor Brian Railsback noted in an NPR piece on the Fitzgeralds’ stay in Asheville, “This was a place where he hoped that he would be restored, find discipline and then maybe find subject matter.”
However, it was a troubled time for the writer and his wife. As the NPR report noted, Fitzgerald’s drinking accelerated, he broke his shoulder in a diving accident, slipped in his rooms’ bathroom, and was found on the floor the next morning. An unflattering profile in the New York Post left him depressed and considering suicide. As Railsback noted, “This was probably the darkest time of his life.” Yet, despite this, the remaining years before his death in 1940 were marked by sustained work on his unfinished final novel, The Love of the Last Tycoon. Tragically, Zelda Fitzgerald died in a fire at Highland Hospital in 1948.
For complete details about Winter Institute’s education program and special events, visit BookWeb.org/wi2015.
Winter Institute 10 is made possible by the support of Ingram Content Group, the event’s lead sponsor, with additional support from more than 60 publishers large and small.