THE HISTORY

1996-2020

 

The F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Conference was founded in 1996 to commemorate the 100th birthday of celebrated American author F. Scott Fitzgerald, whose paternal ancestors were from Montgomery County, Maryland.; Fitzgerald is buried, along with his wife Zelda and his daughter Scottie, in the cemetery of St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Rockville, Maryland. In 2013, the name of the event was officially changed to the F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Festival.

Its announced purposes are: 1. To honor the works of F. Scott Fitzgerald and to honor prominent American fiction writers, poets, playwrights, screenwriters, and other literary figures and artists; 2. To enhance the literary arts by conducting an annual event which includes seminars, lectures, and other educational activities promoting the written word; and 3. To support, encourage, and assist aspiring and emerging writers and students interested in the literary arts.

In accordance with these purposes, the twenty-three annual Fitzgerald Festivals held to date have regularly included writing workshops, keynote speakers, panel discussions, films, short story contests, and, as its centerpiece, the presentation of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Achievement in American Literature.

Since 1996, recipients of the Fitzgerald Award have included many of America’s most distinguished writers, all of whom have been present to accept the Award: 1996: William Styron; 1997: John Barth; 1998: Joyce Carol Oates; 1999: E. L. Doctorow; 2000: Norman Mailer; 2001: Ernest J. Gaines; 2002: John Updike; 2003: Edward Albee; 2004: Grace Paley; 2005: Pat Conroy; 2006: Jane Smiley; 2007: William Kennedy; 2008: Elmore Leonard; 2009: Julia Alvarez; 2010: Alice McDermott; 2011: Maxine Hong Kingston; 2013: Robert Olen Butler; 2014: James Salter; 2015: Richard Ford; 2016: Garrison Keillor; 2017: Annie Proulx; 2018: Richard Russo; 2019: Amy Tan. The 2020 recipient is Barbara Kingsolver. As a group, Fitzgerald Award honorees have received 15 Pulitzer Prizes.

Speakers, panelists, and workshop leaders at the Literary Conference have also included many distinguished writers, scholars, and persons associated with Fitzgerald. Among the latter have been his granddaughters, Eleanor Lanahan and Cecelia Ross, and his great-granddaughter, Blake Hazard; the late Frances Kroll Ring, his secretary during his last years in Hollywood; the late Honoria Murphy Donnelly, the daughter of Fitzgerald’s friends Gerald and Sara Murphy; and the late Budd Schulberg, a distinguished American writer in his own right (author of the Academy Award-winning screenplay for the film On the Waterfront), with whom Fitzgerald collaborated on an ill-fated film project in the late 1930s.

Writers who have participated as workshop leaders, seminar panelists, or keynote speakers include Jim Lehrer, Kate Lehrer, Susan Richards Shreve, Azar Nafisi, Alan Cheuse, Patricia Browning Griffith, Olga Grushin, Merle Collins, George Pelacanos, H. G. Carrillo, Richard Peabody, Mark Childress, Michael Dirda, Francisco Goldman, Henry Allen, E. Ethelbert Miller, Alexandra Zapruder, Caroline Bock, Tara Campbell, Eugenia Kim, James Grady, Richard Morris, Sylvia Morris, Jonathan Yardley, Marie Arana, Evan Thomas, Susan Cheever, Murray Horwitz, Bob Mondello, Mary Kay Zuravleff, Gary Krist, Jay Parini, Laura Lipman, Maureen Corrigan, Stewart O’Nan, Margaret Talbot, Alexandra Petri, Tom Toles, Susan Coll, Paul Goldberg, Calvin Trillin, Jennifer Finney Boylan, and A. Scott Berg.

The scholars who have participated include James L. W. West, Scott Donaldson, Alan Margolies, Jackson R. Bryer, Anne Margaret Daniel, and Ruth Prigozy— among the leading Fitzgerald scholars in the world.

In 2012, the Literary Conference, reimagined as a Fitzgerald Birthday Celebration, was held at Rockville Town Center. It featured a reading by Alice McDermott, a seminar on “What Makes The Great Gatsby Great,” and the showing of two films based on Fitzgerald short stories. Due to Covid-19, the events of the 2020 Festival will be held virtually.

 
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Our Honorees

WINNERS OF THE F. SCOTT FITZGERALD AWARD

1996 William Styron

1997 John Barth

1998 Joyce Carol Oates

1999 E. L. Doctorow

2000 Norman Mailer

2001 Ernest  J. Gaines

2002 John Updike

2003 Edward Albee

2004 Grace Paley

2005 Pat Conroy

2006 Jane Smiley

2007 William Kennedy

2008 Elmore Leonard

2009 Julia Alvarez

2010 Alice McDermott

2011 Maxine Hong Kingston

2013 Robert Olen Butler

2014 James Salter

2015 Richard Ford

2016 Garrison Keillor

2017 Annie Proulx

2018 Richard Russo

2019 Amy Tan

2020  Barbara Kingsolver

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OFFICERS & COMMITTEE

F. Scott Fitzgerald Board of Directors

  • - Roberta S. Mandrekas, President

  • - Joseph Monte, Vice President

  • - Gary Berg-Cross, Secretary

  • - Pat Chickering, Treasurer

The F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Festival committee comprises a diverse and talented group of individuals who all share one common interest - an appreciation for the art of writing and a love of literature.

Literary Festival Committee:

  • - Gary Berg-Cross

  • - Jackson R. Bryer

  • - Eric Carzon

  • - Dino Caterini

  • - Pat Chickering

  • - Pam Gates

  • - Eleanor Heginbotham

  • - Susan Hoffmann

  • - Mary Kosch Hopkins

  • - Lisa Chase Kaiser

  • - Roberta S. Mandrekas

  • - Eileen McGuckian

  • - Margaret Meleney

  • - Joseph Monte

  • - Nancy Pickard

  • - Zach Powers

  • - Davina Thrower Smith

  • - Jack Pugh, Festival Coordinator

  • - Lucy Cook, Assistant Coordinator

  • - Betty Wisda, City of Rockville Liaison

 

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