Literary Trivia: Where are F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald buried today?

Washington DC-area residents may not know it, but those legendary literary wild children of the Jazz Age were laid to rest right here, just north of the District.

The grave of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Fitzgerald in St. Mary's Catholic Cemetery in Rockville, Maryland. The is the concluding line of The Great Gatsby: "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." (Image courtesy Intelligo1, via Flickr, CC 2.0)
F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1921. (Image via Wikipedia)
F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1921. (Image via Wikipedia)

WASHINGTON, November 24, 2015 – Given yesterday’s intriguing news that Amazon is picking up an option to produce a new streaming film based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s unfinished novel, “The Last Tycoon,” residents of the DC area might want to take note of an important local connection. Despite Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald’s long associations with New York, North Carolina and Hollywood, the mortal remains of this legendary literary duo now lie at rest in—wait for it—Rockville, Maryland.

Despite his dissolute, alcoholic life, Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was born a Catholic and considered himself to be of that faith. But upon his death, the pre-Vatican II Catholic Church (Baltimore Diocese) determined that the author had not been a practicing Catholic when he died and disallowed his burial in “hallowed” (blessed by the Catholic Church) ground.

Zelda Sayre, later Zelda Fitzgerald, at 17. (Image via Wikipedia)
Zelda Sayre, later Zelda Fitzgerald, age 17. (Image via Wikipedia)

Given his familial relation to the descendants of his namesake, “Star- Spangled Banner” poet Francis Scott Key, along with the fact that his own father was buried here earlier, Fitzgerald’s body was brought back east from California, and he was buried in Rockville Union Cemetery, not far north from Washington, DC. Having perished in a fire at Highland Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina where she had been institutionalized for years, Zelda was finally laid to rest alongside Scott in the same cemetery.

Years later, post-Vatican II, the Catholic Church finally had a change of heart with regard to the Fitzgeralds’ final place of rest, largely due to the efforts of their only child, Scottie, who had long lived in this area. With the help of longtime Fitzgerald scholar Matthew J. Bruccoli and others, Scott’s and Zelda’s remains were removed from Rockville Union Cemetery and transferred to St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery, also in Rockville, in 1975 where his father had been laid to rest.

Fitzgerald’s daughter, Scottie, who lived here with her family and contributed articles to the Washington Post, passed away at the age of 64 in 1986 and was buried at the foot of her parent’s grave that year.

Scholars, students, and anyone else who’s interested can still visit the Fitzgerald gravesite there today.

Read also: Amazon Studios okays pilot based on Fitzgerald’s “The Last Tycoon”Tycoon


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