Was Jay Gatsby a real person?


Quick Answer

Jay Gatsby, the character from F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel "The Great Gatsby," was a fictional person. Fitzgerald once confessed to a friend that there was a bit of himself in Gatsby.

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Full Answer

Scholars believe that Gatsby's character is a composite of many of Fitzgerald's friends and acquaintances. It is believed that Gatsby is based, at least in part, on a friend of Fitzgerald's named George Kerr. A number of the Fitzgeralds' wealthy bootlegging neighbors are also thought to have contributed to Gatsby's character, including Max Fleischman and Edmund "Bunny" Wilson. Their flamboyant lifestyles fell into favor with Zelda Fitzgerald, F. Scott's wife. One bootlegger by the name of Max Gerlach, however, is thought to have been the central inspiration for Gatsby. Evidence exists that Gerlach was behind Gatsby's signature phrase "Old sport."

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