Ginerva King was Scott Fitzgerald’s first love. She was the inspiration for Isabelle in This Side of Paradise, Judy Jones in “Winter Dreams”, and Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby. She was born in Chicago in 1898. She was named after Leonardo da Vinci’s paintingGinerva de’ Benci.
Her father was a wealthy businessman in Chicago. Ginerva first met Scott in January of 1915. She was visiting a friend in St. Paul. They met at a sledding party and it was love at first sight. They sent many letters back and forth until January 1917. The words “poor boys shouldn’t think of marrying rich girls” from The Great Gatsby was thought to have been said to him by Charles King, Ginerva’s father.
On July 15, 1918 Ginerva wrote Scott a letter informing him of her engagement to William Mitchell. She broke up with Scott because he was poor and had no real prospects that she or her family could see. In 1937 she divorced Mitchell and got into contact with Scott again. The reunion wasn’t all that great. Apparently he was more interested in her than she was in him.
When she asked which character was based on her in The Beautiful and the Damned, Fitzgerald replied, “Which bitch do you think you are?”
When Scott died in 1940 Scottie gave all of the letters that Scott had from Ginerva to her. She kept them until the end of her life. Now Princeton has them in their Fitzgerald collection.
There isn’t any evidence to show whether or not Scott cheated on Zelda with Ginerva. He still obviously thought about her. It is theorized that Ginerva influenced his writing maybe even as much as Zelda did.