Fitzgerald’s List of Things for His 11-Year-Old Daughter to Worry About


When you hear the name F. Scott Fitzgerald, a lot of things come to mind. The Jazz Age. The Lost Generation. His tumultuous married life with Zelda. His difficult friendship with Hemingway. Alcohol! But the fact that the famous author was also someone’s dear old dad probably isn’t one of them. And in fact, Fitzgerald’s relationship with his only child, Scottie, grew to be just as estranged as the one with his wife in the later years of his life.

This closing from a 1933 letter to his daughter, which was spotted by Lists of Note, reveals that even in those troubled times, he still worried about her future happiness. In case you’re curious about how things turned out for Scottie, she managed to have a pretty normal life for someone who grew up hanging around cultural icons like Dorothy Parker, Picasso, and the aforementioned Hemingway. She went on to become a journalist, writing for such publications as The New Yorker and The Washington Post, and a staunch supporter of the Democratic party. Avoiding her famous parents’ battles with mental illness and tragically early ends, Scottie died in 1986 at the age of 65.

Things to worry about:

Worry about courage Worry about cleanliness Worry about efficiency Worry about horsemanship

Things not to worry about:

Don’t worry about popular opinion Don’t worry about dolls Don’t worry about the past Don’t worry about the future Don’t worry about growing up Don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you Don’t worry about triumph Don’t worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault Don’t worry about mosquitoes Don’t worry about flies Don’t worry about insects in general Don’t worry about parents Don’t worry about boys Don’t worry about disappointments Don’t worry about pleasures Don’t worry about satisfactions

Things to think about:

What am I really aiming at? How good am I really in comparison to my contemporaries in regard to:

(a) Scholarship (b) Do I really understand about people and am I able to get along with them? (c) Am I trying to make my body a useful instrument or am I neglecting it?

With dearest love,