The Great Gatsby

The Setting

The Great Gatsby takes place primarily in New York.


The Great Gatsby's main characters live in East Egg (associated with old money) and West Egg (new money), based on the real East and West Hampton. Both are wealthy residential areas of Long Island. West Egg, where Jay Gatsby lives in the story, was considered less fashionable than East Egg.  The author, F. Scott Fitzgerald, also owned a house in West Egg for a time.


Click on the dots on the map to learn more about the locations used in the Great Gatsby.

F. Scott Fitzgerald, whose full name was Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald, was born on September 24, 1896, in St. Paul, Minnesota. He was named after his famous second cousin, three times removed, who wrote the "Star Spangled Banner." He grew up in a Catholic, upper middle class family. His father was a failed wicker furniture salesman, and his mother an Irish immigrant with a large inheritance.


Fitzgerald showed an enthusiasm for writing from an early age and wrote for the student paper at the prestigious Catholic preparatory school that he attended, Newman School.  After graduating from Newman in 1913, he continued his education at Princeton until 1917, when he dropped out to join the U.S. Army. During that time, he met and fell in love with Zelda Sayre. The war ended in 1918 before was deployed and Fitzgerald moved to New York in effort to improve his career and convince Zelda to marry him.


One week after he published his first book and instant hit, This Side of Paradise, he married Zelda. Embracing their new celebrity status, the Fitzgeralds led an extravagant lifestyle of raucous parties and heavy drinking, hindering Scott’s reputation as a writer. During this time, he wrote and published numerous short stories and two more novels, the Beautiful and the Damned and The Great Gatsby.

“The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly.”

The Great Gatsby

“That is part of the beauty of literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald

After completing the Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald’s life began to unravel. He fell deeper into alcoholism and Zelda suffered from mental health issues. By 1930, Zelda had been admitted into a mental health clinic. Fitzgerald sank deeper into depression and experienced many writing blocks. Eventually, he finished and published Tender is the Night in 1934. It was a commercial failure.


In 1937, Fitzgerald tried to revive his career as a screenwriter in Hollywood and experienced modest success.


In 1940, Fitzgerald died of a heart attack at 44 years old, believing he was a failure. His final novel, The Love of the Last Tycoon, was only half complete. His works did not gain more than modest success until years after his death. Now he is considered one of the preeminent authors in the history of American literature.


F. Scott Fitzgerald

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