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The Original Daisy Buchanan

Posted by Josh Rothman  July 27, 2012 08:38 AM

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Every high-school kid who reads The Great Gatsby faces the same challenge: figuring out just what's so great about Daisy Buchanan. In a great piece for The Paris Review, Jason Diamond explains what we know about Ginevra King, the young, beautiful, and rich Chicago socialite on whom Daisy was (partially or mostly) modeled. She was Fitzgerald's first serious crush. For two years, starting at around age 19, they exchanged romantic letters and even short stories -- in one of her stories, "a writer named 'Scott Fitz-Gerald' keeps a card file on his old girlfriends."

As Diamond explains,

In the years leading up to World War I, King and her three closest friends -- Margaret Carry, Courtney Letts, and Edith Cummings -- were considered celebrities in Lake Forest and, indeed, throughout the Chicagoland area. Collectively known as the Big Four (a name they bestowed on themselves), they were the socialites of their era. The exclusive group didn’t allow new members, and each wore a rose-gold pinkie ring with The Big Four 1914 engraved on the inner band.

Other King facts of note: After one visit, during August, 1916, Fitzgerald wrote in his journal that "Poor boys shouldn't think of marrying rich girls"; Wikipedia lists her occupation as "muse." Read more at The Paris Review, and don't miss this great older article about King at The New York Times.

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About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
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Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.

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