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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.
Brainiac blogger Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Columbia, South Carolina. He can be reached here.

Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.

Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.

Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.

Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.

Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."

Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.

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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