F. Scott Fitzgerald's Previously Unpublished Short Story Is Surprisingly Relevant

It deals with issues of fake news.

F. Scott Fitzgerald died more than 75 years ago, yet his newly released short story couldn't be more timely. The previously unpublished "IOU" appears in this week's New Yorker, and centers around a young man who returns from World War I only to find his uncle, Dr. Harden, trying to profit off of his (fictionalized) death.

It's a witty take on the all-too-relevant issue of fake news, and how we handle the distortion of facts.

Fitzgerald originally wrote the story for Harper's Bazaar, but eventually put it aside to focus on The Beautiful and Damned, and the text was lost to history.

"He wrote 'The I.O.U.' in the late spring of 1920, evidently after a specific request from Henry Blackman Sell, the editor of Harper's Bazaar," explained Anne Margaret Daniel, the editor of a forthcoming collection of previously unpublished Fitzgerald stories.

"Fitzgerald dropped the story off at [his agent, Harold] Ober's offices in New York, reminding him, 'This is the plot that Sell particularly wanted for Harps. Baz and which I promised him. I think it is pretty good.' In July, Ober sent the story on to the Saturday Evening Post, but Fitzgerald asked for it back because he wanted to revise it. Ober returned the manuscript and typescript to Fitzgerald, who set it aside and concentrated instead on his second novel, The Beautiful and Damned."

"IOU" was only recently recovered and sold to Yale University's Beinecke Library in 2012.


Read it in full over on the New Yorker's website, or, if you can wait a few more weeks, the story will be included in Daniel's I'd Die for You and Other Lost Stories, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Pre-order it on

This story originally appeared on
* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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