F. Scott Fitzgerald's works are often semi-autobiographical; he used his writing to express his own thoughts and feelings and to provide a commentary on the social life he had come to know. Fitzgerald was born to an upper-middle class family and had all the trappings of a well-to-do young man. He attended Catholic preparatory school and then Princeton University. Throughout his young life he was no stranger to the social atmosphere of high society, and his most famous novel, The Great Gatsby, deals with the decadence he perceived in the American almost-aristocracy.
Though his books have the grand themes of love and longing, youth and old age, he also included a number of subjects which would have been quite touchy at the time. Gatsby has details of prostitution, extramarital affairs, and racism. The Beautiful and Damned is an example of one of Fitzgerald's rather thinly-veiled and fictionalized accounts of his marriage and deals with the theme of addiction to alcohol. Tender is the Night, another semi-autobiographical account, tells of a psychoanalyst who falls in love with one of his patients. This story deals with both the hush-hush subject of mental illness and the ethics of loving someone who lives in an institution.
Fitzgerald did not shy from difficult subject matter, and it made his characters and stories all the more real because they addressed issues society might have preferred not to discuss.