Wait, What? Ledger Explains F. Scott Fitzgerald's Earnings For The Great Gatsby

Holding a rare book in your hands can be a really cool experience. However, digitizing rare books so that they can become available for a larger range of audiences is pretty incredible, as well. The latter is just what the Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections at the University of South Carolina did for a collection of ledgers famous American author F. Scott Fitzgerald kept. Now, with Fitzgerald’s famous work, The Great Gatsby, on everyone’s minds thanks to Baz Luhrmann’s newest film, the university has made the ledger available online.

Fitzgerald’s ledgers kept track of all kinds of information between 1919 and 1937, including every piece of work the man published during that time, money the author earned for various projects, and even money earned by his wife, the infamous Zelda Fitzgerald (nee Sayre), during the period. According to the University of South Carolina, the scanning was done by a couple of MLIS students, Kelly Riddle and Matthew W. Shepherd. The digitized information provides a wealthy of knowledge about Fitzgerald’s life and gives fans a unique glimpse at the man’s masterful handwriting.

There are several ways to look at this window into Fitzgerald’s life. Viewers can browse the ledger by sections or keywords, and can even download the transcript of the ledger in its entirety—which is helpful because the digitized version of the ledger, pretty handwriting or no, can be a bit difficult to read. Interestingly, in 1925, Fitzgerald made less than $2,000 publishing The Great Gatsby, which is less than he made for some of the short stories he famously sold to The Saturday Evening Post and other outlets. You can read more in the 1925 ledger, above, or check out some less financial-oriented information over at the University of South Carolina.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Reality TV fan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. Theme park junkie. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.