“Yours in ironic humor”: a rare inscribed photograph of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

March 6, 2012.

Inscribed photograph of F. Scott Fitzgerald c. 1917.

“Yours in ironic humor, F. Scott Fitzgerald.”

“Received as given in gentle humor, J. Biggs.”

When this inscribed photograph was made in 1917 F. Scott Fitzgerald was a senior at Princeton University, though he was more interested in writing fiction than attending to coursework. He was absorbed by The Triangle, a student musical-comedy group, and he and his roommate, John Biggs, were collaborators on two literary publications, The Tiger and Nassau Lit, frequently turning out whole issues on their own. Fitzgerald was also occupied by plans to visit Russia with Father Sigourney Fay, the Roman Catholic priest who had encouraged his literary ambitions during prep school. The two would ostensibly be traveling as a Red Cross delegation, but would really be investigating ways to assist the Church in the wake of the Kerensky revolution. The trip eventually fell through, but not before Fitzgerald had this passport photograph taken, a copy of which he presented to his roommate Biggs “in ironic humor”. The two remained friends for the rest of Fitzgerald’s life, despite the author’s alcoholism and money problems, and Biggs’s rise to prominence as a judge. Biggs helped the Fitzgeralds find Ellerslie, the estate that they moved to in Wilmington, Delaware, and he often bailed out his friend after drunken escapades. In the end, he was one of the few people who attended Fitzgerald’s funeral. Signed photos of Fitzgerald are rare, and this association with Princeton and his college roommate is outstanding. The photo itself became well-known when Arthur Mizener used it as the frontispiece to his biography of Fitzgerald, The Far Side of Paradise.  Click here for our other F. Scott Fitzgerald items, including signed copies and first editions.

Laura joined Peter Harrington in 2009 after completing a master's degree in book history at the University of London. Her special interests are science and medicine, modern literature, and the book culture of the medieval and early modern eras.

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