|Born||November 30, 1898|
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Died||December 13, 1980 (aged 82)|
|Alma mater||Westover School|
William Mitchell (m. 1918–1937)
Ginevra King (November 30, 1898 – December 13, 1980) was an American socialite and debutante and was the inspiration for several characters in the novels and short stories of American novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald.
King was born in Chicago in 1898, the daughter of Ginevra Fuller and Charles Garfield King. She, like her mother and her grandmother, was named after Leonardo da Vinci's painting Ginevra de' Benci. Her father was a wealthy Chicago businessman and financier. She had two younger sisters, Marjorie and Barbara. Ginevra grew up amid the Chicago social scene, as a member of the elite "Big Four" Chicago debutantes during World War I. She attended the Westover School in Middlebury, Connecticut.
Relationship with Fitzgerald
Ginevra first met Fitzgerald on January 4, 1915, while visiting Marie Hersey, her roommate from Westover, in St. Paul, Minnesota. She was a 16-year-old at the Westover School and he was a 19-year-old at Princeton. They met at a sledding party, and according to letters and diary entries, they both immediately became infatuated. They sent letters back and forth for months, and their passionate romance continued until January 1917.
According to Fitzgerald biographer Andrew Mizner, Fitzgerald "remained devoted to Ginevra as long as she would allow him to", and she became his inspiration for the character of Isabelle Borgé, Amory Blaine's first love in This Side of Paradise, for Daisy in The Great Gatsby, and several other characters in his novels and short stories. In August 1916, Fitzgerald wrote in his ledger words possibly said to him by Ginevra's father: "Poor boys shouldn't think of marrying rich girls." This line was later used in both the 1974 and 2013 film productions of The Great Gatsby.
On July 15, 1918, King wrote to Fitzgerald, informing him of her engagement to William Mitchell, the son of her father's business associate. They were married on September 4, 1918, and had three children, William, Charles, and Ginevra. In 1937, she left Mitchell for businessman John T. Pirie (of the Chicago department store Carson Pirie Scott & Company). Also that year, when in Hollywood, she saw Fitzgerald for the last time. When she asked him which character in Gatsby was based on her, Fitzgerald replied "Which bitch do you think you are?"
King exerted a great influence on Fitzgerald's writing, perhaps as much as his relationship with his wife Zelda. His work abounds with characters modeled after and inspired by King, which include:
- Judy Jones in "Winter Dreams"
- Isabelle Borge in This Side of Paradise
- Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby
- Their meeting in "Babes in the Woods," from the collection Bernice Bobs Her Hair and Other Stories, reused in This Side of Paradise.
King is featured in the books The Perfect Hour by James L.W. West III and in a fictionalized form in Gatsby's Girl by Caroline Preston. The musical The Pursuit of Persephone tells the story of King's romance with Fitzgerald. She also appears in "West of Sunset" by Stewart O'Nan, a fictionalized account of Fitzgerald's final years, including his work in Hollywood and relationship with gossip columnist Sheilah Graham.
- 1910 United States Federal Census
- Dinitia Smith (September 8, 2003). "Love Notes Drenched in Moonlight; Hints of Future Novels in Letters To Fitzgerald". New York Times.
- Mizener, Arthur (1972), Scott Fitzgerald and His World, New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons
- Noden, Merrell. "Fitzgerald's first love". - Princeton Alumni Weekly - November 5, 2003
- Bruccoli, Matthew Joseph (2002), Some Sort of Epic Grandeur: The Life of F. Scott Fitzgerald (2nd rev. ed.), Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, pp. 123–124, ISBN 1-57003-455-9
- Stepanov, Renata. "Family of Fitzgerald's lover donates correspondence" Archived 2003-10-04 at the Wayback Machine. The Daily Princetonian. September 15, 2003.
- Cook County, Illinois Marriage Indexes, 1912-1942
- 1930 United States Federal Census
- Preston, Caroline. Gatsby's Girl. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 2006. ISBN 0-618-53725-2
- West, James L.W. The Perfect Hour: The Romance of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ginevra King, His First Love. New York: Random House. 2005. ISBN 978-1-4000-6308-6