Scroll Top
about & history
The F. Scott Fitzgerald Festival is committed to nurturing, inspiring, and supporting aspiring and emerging writers, as well as students passionate about the literary arts.
history of the festival
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.
It’s announced purpose:
Honor the works of F. Scott Fitzgerald and honor prominent American fiction writers, poets, playwrights, screenwriters, and other literary figures and artists.
Enhance the literary arts by conducting an annual event which includes seminars, lectures, and other educational activities promoting the written word.
Empower, support, encourage, and assist aspiring and emerging writers and students interested in the literary arts.
Video Courtesy of Montgomery Community Media (MCM)
Achievement in American Literature
At the heart of the Literary Festival lies the prestigious F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Achievement in American Literature, a distinguished honor bestowed upon an eminent American writer. The recipient, gracing the festival with their presence, not only receives the accolade but also engages attendees with a captivating reading and a master class.
Notably, the festival has proudly included Pulitzer Prize winners among its distinguished recipients over the years, showcasing a tradition of honoring some of the most illustrious figures in American literature from the past half-century.
literary icons
John Updike Photo Courtesy of Library of Congress (Photographer Bernard Gotfryd)
Recipients of the Fitzgerald Award have included many of America’s most distinguished writers, all of whom, prior to Covid, 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
  • 2020: Barbara Kingsolver
  • 2021: John Edgar Wideman
  • 2022: Richard Powers
  • 2023: Jonathan Franzen
  • 2024 Jesmyn Ward

Fitzgerald Award honorees have received over 16 Pulitzer Prizes.

a history of
literary excellence
In accordance with our purpose, the twenty-eight 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.
writers, scholars, panelists
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
  • Kim Stanley Robinson
  • 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
  • Tope Folarin
  • Stewart O’Nan
  • Clint Smith
  • Margaret Talbot
  • Alexandra Petri
  • Tom Toles
  • Susan Coll
  • Paul Goldberg
  • Calvin Trillin
  • Jennifer Finney Boylan
  • Kirk Curnutt
  • A. Scott Berg
distinguished festival friends
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.
This distinguished list also includes 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.

The Fitzgerald scholars who have participated include James L. W. West, Scott Donaldson, Alan Margolies, Jackson R. Bryer, David S. Brown, Anne Margaret Daniel, Kirk Curnutt, William Blazek, David W. Ullrich, Martina Mastandrea, David Page, and Ruth Prigozy— 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 and 2021 Festival were held virtually. The Festival resumed as an in-person event in 2022.

f. scott fitzgerald
rockville maryland connections
F. Scott Fitzgerald is associated with the glittering, romantic, and dissipated excesses of the Jazz Age—a term he coined—and venues such as Princeton’s rarefied ivy halls, and the glamour of New York, Paris, the French Riviera, and Hollywood. But Fitzgerald’s Maryland roots were so deeply embedded that when he died suddenly in Hollywood, there was little question that Rockville would be his final resting place.
the beginning

Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was born on September 24, 1896, in St. Paul, Minnesota. His mother, Mollie McQuillan, was the daughter of a prosperous wholesale grocer in St. Paul. While his mother’s family had the money, he carried his genteel Maryland pedigree in his name. His Maryland connections were his father’s. Edward Fitzgerald was from a well-established Montgomery County family. Young Fitzgerald regularly visited his father’s relatives at Locust Grove, their farm in Montgomery County, returning home to Minnesota fascinated by his family and Civil War stories.

The author’s life-long connection to Rockville was maintained through correspondence, family ties and visits and, ultimately, his final resting place. The 6-year-old was a “ribbon holder” at his cousin Cecilia Delihant’s wedding at Randolph Station, south of Rockville, on April 24, 1903.

Even as a youngster, Fitzgerald led a nomadic life. His father’s unfulfilled search for success in business took the family to Buffalo and Syracuse. Eventually they returned to live with his mother’s family in St. Paul. Fitzgerald dropped out of Princeton, enlisted in the army, and while stationed in Montgomery, Alabama, he met Zelda Sayre. The two were married in New York City in 1920 following the publication of his first novel. After their marriage, they lived in Europe and in numerous locations in the United States.
From 1932 to 1937, the Fitzgeralds lived in Baltimore while Zelda was undergoing treatment for mental illness.
Fitzgerald completed Tender Is the Night (1934) in Baltimore. People, places, and experiences in Rockville found their way into that novel and his other writings. As an adult, Fitzgerald may have visited Rockville more than research has revealed. We do know that he returned from Paris in 1931 to attend his father’s funeral at Saint Mary’s Church. A passage in Tender Is the Night describes his feeling: “It was very friendly leaving him there with all his relations around him… Dick had no more ties here now and did not believe he would come back… ‘Good-bye my father—good-bye, all my fathers.’”
Fitzgerald did come back. He died at age 44 on December 21, 1940, in Hollywood, California, and was buried in Rockville Cemetery, Maryland.

When Zelda died in 1948, she was buried with him beneath a common headstone. In 1975, they were reinterred at Saint Mary’s Church cemetery on Veirs Mill Road. In 1986, their daughter Scottie was buried in the family plot. Today, 15 members of the family—Fitzgeralds, Delihants, Scotts and Robertsons—are interred at historic Saint Mary’s Church.

When Fitzgerald died, he believed himself a failure. He had written five novels—This Side of Paradise (1920); The Beautiful and Damned (1922); The Great Gatsby (1925); Tender Is the Night (1934); and The Last Tycoon (1941) left incomplete at his death). While he worked as a contract screenwriter in Hollywood, he had only one credited screenplay, Three Comrades. Fitzgerald churned out short stories to pay the bills—first to support an expensive lifestyle and later to provide for Zelda’s medical treatments and Scottie’s education. Of more than 150 short stories, 46 were published in four collections. He was an early success—his writing captured an era. At the time of his death, there was little market for his writing, perhaps because during the Great Depression, the glamour and wealth of his characters seemed less relevant during the Great Depression.

Following World War II, Fitzgerald’s his work and exquisite craftsmanship gradually received the appreciation and acclaim that it has today.

The Great Gatsby, a tale that chronicles the corruption of the American Dream, is not only a staple of American literature English classes but also, in two recent surveys, has been rated one of the best twentieth-century English-language novels. Each year on his birthday, visitors find their way to Fitzgerald’s gravesite at Saint Mary’s Church cemetery. They leave flowers, packs of cigarettes, martini glasses, and gin bottles in silent homage to F. Scott Fitzgerald, the romantic legend and chronicler of the Jazz Age.

The F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Conference was founded on 1996 in Rockville, Montgomery County Maryland, to honor the contributions of Fitzgerald and contemporary writers to the American literary tradition. The Literary Conference, now known as the Literary Festival, is the premier literary festival dedicated to writers and artists who embody the spirit and craft of F. Scott Fitzgerald, attracting participants from around the globe.

2024 Festival Committee

Dr. Gary Berg-Cross (President)
Dr. Gary Berg-Cross is a cognitive psychologist (PhD, SUNY–Stony Brook, BS from Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute) is now semi-retired from a professional life that included R&D in applied data & knowledge engineering, collaboration, and AI planning research. He has been a Board & Trustee Member of the Friends of the Library Montgomery County and serves on several professional Boards.
Ari Brooks (FOLMC Liaison)
Ari Brooks is an experienced fundraiser and nonprofit manager. As Executive Director of Friends of the Library, Montgomery County (FOLMC), she handles fundraising, marketing, membership recruitment, board engagement, and financial oversight. She is a graduate of the 2004 class of Leadership Montgomery and was the first recipient of the County Executive’s Emerging Leader award in 2009.
Dr. Jackson R. Bryer (Past President)
Dr. Jackson R. Bryer is a Professor of English (Emeritus) at the University of Maryland. He is co-founder and president of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Society and author, editor, or co-editor of 17 books by or about F. Scott and/or Zelda Fitzgerald, among them The Critical Reputation of F. Scott Fitzgerald, New Essays on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Neglected Stories, F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Critical Reception, The Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald: New Approaches in Criticism, Dear Scott/Dear Max: The Fitzgerald-Perkins Correspondence, and Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda: The Love Letters of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. He has been a member of the Committee since its inception in 1996.
Dino Caterini
Dino Caterini is a retired Foreign Service Officer who served for thirty-five years with the United States Information Agency, the organization that handled educational and cultural affairs overseas, including the Fulbright Scholarship program. He helped foster American Studies and American Literature in universities in India, Ethiopia, Somalia, Pakistan, Burma, Germany and Italy. He organized exhibits on Fitzgerald and other American literary figures at American Centers overseas as well as at foreign universities. His undergraduate BA degree is in International Relations from Miami University (Ohio), and his JD graduate degree is in law and political science from New York University. He studied overseas on a Fulbright Scholarship at the University of Padua in Italy and has been associated with the Rockville Fitzgerald Festival/Conference since its beginning in1996. He is proud to have been to every annual conference since then and has been on the Fitzgerald Fest organizing committee for the past four years.
JH Flores (MCPL Liaison)
With more than three decades of professional expertise, Jaime H. Flores (Assistant Director for Programs and Outreach – MCPL) is an innovative C-Suite Executive deeply committed to fostering community, advancing marketing and branding strategies, enhancing communications, spearheading programming initiatives, and championing diversity, equity, and inclusion. A distinguished alumnus, Flores proudly holds a BA in African Diaspora Studies from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and an MA in History (with a Concentration in Afro-Latino Studies) from Virginia State University. Throughout his career, Flores has demonstrated a sustained dedication to the labor movement, the non-profit sector, as well as the association and local government domains. Beyond his executive role, he has earned recognition as a published Nuyorican writer and poet, contributing to various books and anthologies. His multifaceted background and unwavering commitment to positive impact underscore Flores’ influential presence in both professional and creative spheres.
Dr. Eleanor Heginbotham (Secretary)
Dr. Eleanor Heginbotham is a Professor Emerita of English at Concordia University in St. Paul, co-chaired the first F. Scott Fitzgerald Society International Conference held in the author’s birthplace in St. Paul MN. Professor Heginbotham has helped with most of the conferences/ festivals in Rockville, site of the author’s grave. She has taught on five continents, most recently at American University’s OLLI. She has co-chaired four major conferences; and has published two books and numerous articles, mainly on Emily Dickinson.
Susan Hoffmann (Treasurer)
Susan Hoffmann is a former mayor of Rockville, Biden delegate to the 2020 Democratic National Convention, political and community activist. During her tenure in office, Ms. Hoffmann established the Rockville Art in Private Development statute which requires private developers to provide art or a donation to the support of public art. Ms. Hoffmann serves on the Judicial Inquiry Board of the Maryland Commission on Judicial Disabilities, as well as Chair of the Spirit Club Foundation, and is Vice President of the Theatre Consortium of Silver Spring, is a member of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Festival Committee, and is on the Sunflower Bakery Board. She also is a former Rockville City Councilmember and a former member of the Rockville Planning Commission. During her employment with Montgomery County, MD, she headed up marketing and special events during and after the redevelopment of Downtown Silver Spring. Ms. Hoffmann is the founder of both the annual Montgomery County Thanksgiving Parade and the annual Silver Spring Jazz Festival.
Margaret Meleney (Writer’s Center Liaison)
Margaret Meleney is senior executive of The Writer’s Center with extensive experience in strategic planning, operations, investment, budgeting, annual auditing, and financial analysis. She has managed six entities with operating budgets of over $15 million and previously served as the Chief Financial Officer of Club Managers Association of America, where she has implemented cost-savings and reallocation strategies to improve overall financial health of the organization. She has also volunteered on a number of nonprofit committees
Mary Hopkins (Short Story Contest Coordinator)
Mary Hopkins is an English teacher at The Steward School in Richmond, Virginia. She is currently the advisor to both the Middle School newspaper and Creative Writing Club. The former Assistant Head of School at Holy Child in Potomac, Maryland, Mary has worked in the field of English education as both an administrator and a classroom teacher for more than 25 years.
Joseph Monte (Vice President)
Joseph Monte was an Einstein High School College Counselor for fifty-one years, has served on the F. Scott Fitzgerald Conference Committee for 10 years, and has been President of six different educational boards. He is also a writer for “American Teacher.”
Nancy Pickard

Nancy Pickard is a historic preservation and community planning professional. In her current position as Executive Director at Peerless Rockville, Historic Preservation, Ltd., she works with concerned citizens, volunteers, property owners and local government agencies to identify, protect and safeguard the City’s heritage. Nancy holds Master’s Degrees in Community Planning and Historic Preservation from the University of Maryland, and a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State.

Zach Powers
Zach Powers is The Writer’s Center’s Communications Manager is a seasoned media specialist with 15 years of experience, including many years working with nonprofits. He’s also an accomplished author of literary fiction, including an award-winning short story collection Gravity Changes, BOA Editions, 2017) and a novel, First Cosmic Velocity,
Elizabeth Redisch (Festival Coordinator)
Elizabeth Redisch is a jack of all trades. Trained as an attorney, she has not practiced since she moved to the DC area. She currently works as a Weight Watchers coach, a substitute teacher in the Montgomery County Schools, and as the Coordinator for the Festival.
Carol Rubin
Carol Rubin recently retired from the Maryland-National Capital Planning Commission where she worked in various senior management and leadership roles. As an attorney, she held positions in both the private and public sectors, but her passion has always been public service. Throughout her career, Ms. Rubin served on various government appointed and non-profit boards to further give back to the Montgomery County community where she lives, and during her retirement hopes to continue with those activities. As a member of the FSF Committee, she can continue to serve her community by advancing her love of literature.
Taryn Trazkovich (MCPS liaison)
Taryn Trazkovich is the festival liaison to Montgomery County Public Schools. Currently, she teaches English and journalism at Rockville High School where she is also the staff advisor of the student newspaper, The Rampage.
Betty Wisda (Rockville City Liaison)
Betty Wisda has been the Arts Programs Supervisor for the City of Rockville, Maryland since 1979. She is responsible for the coordination, planning and development of citywide visual, performing and literary arts for all ages. She has received numerous awards from the National Recreation and Parks Association and Maryland Recreation and Parks Association for her innovation, creativity, and dedication to the arts.
Naomi Goldstein (Student Representative)
Naomi Goldstein is a high school student who enjoys writing short stories. She was the winner of the 2023 F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Festival Short Story Contest for Students.
Nicolas Leininger
Nicolas Leininger is originally from West Chester, Pennsylvania. He has been living and working in DC since the summer of 2018. Nick graduated from American University in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and Strategic Communications. Nick’s professional background is in sales, fundraising, and account management. During his days as a student, Nick had his poem “The Sin of Omission” published in the 2017 edition of Bleakhouse Publishing’s Tacenda magazine. Nick has his poems “Breathe” and “Enough” featured in Burgeon Online. His poem “Broken” is featured in the 2021 Day Eight Poetry Anthology The Great World of Days. His poems “Passing”, “Equilibrist”, “The First Time I Felt Black” and “Thanksgiving” are included within the Diaspora Café poetry collection. His poem “Friend Ships” was accepted by Wingless Dreamer and is featured within their Sea or Seashore anthology. His poems “Kin” and “Miles Away” are included within the Mid Atlantic Review 2023 magazine. Nick has been using poetry as a tool of self-reflection throughout the 2020-2023 COVID19 pandemic. He’s been a huge fan of F Scott Fitzgerald ever since high school. Nick is currently finishing his 9th draft of a screenplay he began writing in 2021 called “Gatsby’s Ghost”, a new screen adaptation of The Great Gatsby emphasizing the racial reckoning of the roaring 20’s. He’s also working on a documentary series where he interviews millennials that were living in DC during the summer of George Floyd.
contact us

111 Maryland Ave, Rockville, MD 20850

Phone: +1 240-426-0770