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"... My whole theory of writing
I can sum up in one sentence: An author ought to write for the youth of his own
generation, the critics of the next, and the schoolmasters of ever afterward
...." from The Author's Apology, THIS SIDE OF PARADISE,
1st edition, 3rd printing, 1920.
note: all our F. Scott Fitzgerald signatures and/or inscriptions have
verifiable provenance. We invite you to inquire about any of the
signed or inscribed Fitzgerald books that are of interest to you.
SIGNING FOR TENDER IS THE
NIGHT, AT HOCHSCHILD KOHN &
COMPANY, BALTIMORE, MARYLAND 1934
recently acquired my second first edition, first printing of TENDER IS THE
NIGHT, signed by F. Scott Fitzgerald and with the Hochschild Kohn & Company
bookseller's stamp on the back paste-down. Just what are the chances of
that? Quite slim, I'd imagine, especially for a book that had only 7,600
copies in its first printing. Just what are the odds?
have to understand, I am a F. Scott Fitzgerald fan. Have been since
reading GATSBY in high school. I love his prose, his themes and symbolism;
the mystery and romanticism of his relationship with Zelda; his reaching out to
other writers of his time, his innate sense of talent, art and beauty; the 1920s
and 1930s, art deco, the anomaly and hypocrisy of Prohibition. Looking
back, it's easy to see why people cherish the Jazz Age and the "Golden Age of Hollywood."
naturally, I wanted to know more about Fitzgerald's time in the Baltimore area.
I learned he was there over four years. That was more than the Fitzgeralds
had remained in any one place since their marriage in 1920. The
Fitzgeralds traveled a lot, especially in the 1920s, back and forth between
America and Europe. So four years in Baltimore was something.
course, there were reasons. Zelda's illness and Scott's desire to be near
her while she was being treated at Phipps Psychiatric Clinic, John Hopkins
Hospital. Also to finally provide Scottie with a somewhat stable home
environment. And "La Paix," a fifteen-room Victorian mansion
seemed just the place; located with the help of a former Princeton classmate
named, Edgar Allen Poe, Jr. Is that not bizarre?
In the spring of 1932,
Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald ensconced themselves in La Paix, near Baltimore,
Maryland. Scott was determined to finish the novel he had been working on
since the publication of THE GREAT GATSBY. Zelda ardently
practiced her ballet, painted and worked on
her writing. Scott wrote to his editor, Maxwell Perkins, that he was $6000
ahead and would be able devote 5 solid months to his novel. That was due
to the Saturday Evening Post's acceptance of three short stories:
"Family in the Wind," "The Rubber Check," and "What a
One would think all would be
right in the Fitzgerald realm. But it wasn't. Zelda's insistence on
competing with Scott incited discord. Scott did his best; however,
Zelda's mental turbulence, his financial concerns and the stress of finishing
his novel only increased his dependency on alcohol. There were times when
the Fitzgeralds appeared in public a normal family: at dinners, movies, and
social occasions. But life at La Paix grew more and more difficult.
main hindrance to tranquility was the Fitzgeralds' endless arguing over who had
the right to use their histories. Scott believed it was his material;
however, Zelda insisted on using it for her novel, Save Me the Waltz.
Dr. Adolph Meyer, of the Phipps Clinic, encouraged Zelda to write about her
past, which only made Scott angry with Meyer. Scribners published Zelda's
novel in 1932. Scott believed they'd hit "rock bottom."
Zelda's novel didn't sell well; but Instead of retreating from her position, she
wrote a play, Scandalabra, produced for the Junior Vagabonds of
In August 1933, Zelda
accidently started a fire in an unused fireplace, which damaged a portion of the
mansion, and they were given notice of the termination of their lease.
September, 1933. Scott's
good friend, Ring Lardner, died. The
Fitzgeralds moved and were now lodged in a townhouse at 1307 Park Avenue, Bolton Hill, in
Baltimore proper. Despite all the disruptions, Tender Is the
Night was nearing completion. Zelda was registered as a patient at
Not long after moving to the
Bolton Hill area, Scott found a cherished enclave in the Owl Bar of the Hotel
Belvedere. There, he drank with other writers, artists, and journalists;
discussed books, paintings, and events in Europe.
Owl Bar, Hotel
Edgar Allen Poe
One night, Scott was on a
binge similar to one Edgar Allen Poe occasionally experienced; and, if it hadn't
been for Louis Azrael, a noted Baltimore newspaperman, he might've ended up the
just same -- dead in a gutter. Not long after, Fitzgerald put Azrael's
name down in his personal ledger, referring to him as one Baltimore's
outstanding young men. A note to Azrael from Fitzgerald read, "It's just
possible you saved my life. I don't know what would've happened to me
wandering about the streets in that condition."
himself, was a recovering alcoholic, and could relate to Fitzgerald's
turmoil. He could see Fitzgerald was bordering on alcohol poisoning.
After Fitzgerald's recuperation at John Hopkins, the two men met again and found
they had a good expanse of common ground.
Azrael was a respected journalists, so when he spoke at Alcoholics Anonymous
meetings it was an event. Was it possible that Azrael arranged a
book-signing for Scott Fitzgerald at Hochschild Kohn & Company's downtown
department store after TENDER IS THE NIGHT was published in April
Howard and Lexington
Streets, downtown Baltimore, Maryland
Could it be as a favor, and admiring of
Fitzgerald's writing, that Louis Azrael used his influence to arrange a special
event at Hochschild Kohn's? Or, did Azrael act as a liaison between the
famous department store and Fitzgerald to have a number of first edition, first
printings of TENDER IS THE NIGHT signed and sold at the Howard and Lexington
Two original first
edition, first printings of TENDER IS THE NIGHT, acquired from two widely
different sources at two different, both with Hochschild Kohn bookseller stamps
and both with a signature of F. Scott Fitzgerald on the front flyleaf could be a
coincidence -- however, it could also be a hint of a literary event covered over
by the turbulence of time.
email me if you have any information on this event, or the friendship between F.
Scott Fitzgerald and Louis Azrael, or the relationship Louis Azrael might've had
with Hoschschild Kohn & Company, or if there actually was a Fitzgerald book
signing event at this famous Baltimore department store. Or, am I just
hoping to see an event that may've never occurred? Any and all intelligent
comments or observations concerning this possible book signing could be
Stephen Vincent Benet
wrote of F. Scott Fitzgerald after he died, "You can take off your hats now, gentleman, and I think perhaps you had better. This is not a
legend, this is a reputation - and seen in perspective it may well be the most secure reputation of
On April 12, 1934 Scribners
published 7,600 copies of the first edition, first printing of F. Scott
Fitzgerald's TENDER IS THE NIGHT.
For more books by and about F.
Scott Fitzgerald, please click on the following links: