How to spot great talent. James Lees-Milne and the Fitzgerald Rule.

Finding good talent is important. If we believe that growth is essential to moral progress, we need great talent. Sometimes it’s easy to spot people who will become stars. Many creatives arrive fully formed at a young age. Think of Pride and Prejudice, written by a nineteen-year-old. Or Hart Crane. Along with all the young … Continue reading How to spot great talent. James Lees-Milne and the Fitzgerald Rule.

Molière and the Fitzgerald Rule

Like many writers, Molière had an unsettled relationship with his parents. His mother died when he was eleven and he wasn’t close to his father. Being educated as a Jesuit is certainly an advantage for playwrights, as Jesuits approach moral problems by dissecting them carefully, rather than categorising them according to ideological moral binaries. Molière … Continue reading Molière and the Fitzgerald Rule

John Berryman and the Fitzgerald Rule

Berryman published some of this early verse in his first book, Poems, in 1942. His first mature collection of poems, The Dispossessed, appeared six years later, published by William Sloane Associates. The book received largely negative reviews from poets like Jarrell, who wrote, in The Nation, that Berryman was “a complicated, nervous, and intelligent [poet]” whose work was … Continue reading John Berryman and the Fitzgerald Rule

William Shakespeare and the Fitzgerald Rule

What was Shakespeare’s first great play? I’m not talking about his first popular play. I’m talking his first world-changing play.  Henry IV part II? Hamlet? The argument for Midsummer Night’s Dream is weak. We all love it, but it’s not the reason why he’s ‘not for an age but for all time’. I am a great fan … Continue reading William Shakespeare and the Fitzgerald Rule

Richard Hugo, ‘Degrees of Grey in Philipsburg’, and the Fitzgerald Rule

Richard Hugo’s poem ‘Degrees of Grey in Philipsburg‘ was published in 1973, when Hugo was 50, and is regularly anthologised. It is the poem that brings him a broadest audience. Hugo thought it was his best poem, and a reading of his Selected Poems confirms that. Part of what makes this poem astonishing is that … Continue reading Richard Hugo, ‘Degrees of Grey in Philipsburg’, and the Fitzgerald Rule

The Fitzgerald Rule, waitress scriptwriter edition

She attended the University of Southern California and majored in business. Then she worked as an advertising copywriter, wrote travel brochures, took acting classes, and worked toward a degree in psychology.[1] In 1978, while working on Romancing the Stone, Thomas was a waitress at Coral Beach Cantina on the Pacific Coast Highway.[2] It took less than a week for … Continue reading The Fitzgerald Rule, waitress scriptwriter edition

How J.A. Baker became a great writer after showing no signs of talent for forty years

J.A.Baker showed no signs of becoming a writer who would win a major prize, have a dedicated following for fifty years, and whose book would be thought of as a talisman for a movement. Although he spoke to his friends about his intense ambitions to be a writer, he was just another young man who … Continue reading How J.A. Baker became a great writer after showing no signs of talent for forty years