F. Scott Fitzgerald’s original North Shore

Before he got as far as the Long Island Sound, the genetics of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s literary heroines were mapped in his mind in 1915 when he first began a romance with one Ginevra King, socialite and member of the Big Four, Lake Forest, Illinois’ four-woman strong celebrity clique. Ginevra and her three inseperable friends, Margaret Carry, Courtney Letts and Edith Cummings, were celebrities in Lake Forest and around Chicago, coming as they did from old, old money. King and Fitzgerald had a two-year relationship, mostly recorded in letters and Ginevra’s diary, which no doubt fuelled Fitzgerald’s familiar theme of poor boy meets rich girl. Jason Diamond (of Vol. 1 Brooklyn) surmises in this Paris Review article, that The Great Gatsy‘s locations of West and East Egg, situated in a part of Long Island known as the North Shore, were based upon Lake Forest, which is just one of the group of lakeside cities in the Chicago area known as the North Shore. Jason writes lovely about visiting Lake Forest and imagining Gatsby’s characters partying near Lake Michigan bluffs, hanging out on the golf course and visiting at Kingdom Come Farm, the summer retreat once owned by Ginevra’s father and built by Chicago architect Howard Van Doren Shaw.