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,

Daddy