- Category : 1940-births
- Type : GP
- Profile : 2/4 - Hermit / Opportunist
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Laws 3
American Pulitzer Prize-winning author on Vietnam, described as a "cultural anthropologist working as a reporter." Her book, "Fire in the Lake," 1972, was said to have been highly influential in turning American public opinion against American military intervention in Vietnam. Her other books include "America Revised," 1979 and "Cities on a Hill," 1986. From an aristocratic lineage and raised in households that entertained political and social legends, FitzGerald is considered brilliant on her own, and extremely hard-working. She is 5’9", and though not a natural athlete, enjoys swimming and scuba diving. Her favorite reading includes history and Victorian novels, and the walls of her home are lined with seashells and Koranic verses in Persian and Arabic calligraphy.
Frances FitzGerald, nicknamed "Frankie," was born to Desmond FitzGerald, a Wall Street lawyer and later a deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and Marietta Endicott Peabody, part of the blue-blooded Peabody family in Boston, who was described as the "goddess of liberal causes" in the Democratic party in the ‘50s and ‘60s. FitzGerald’s maternal grandmother, Mary Parkman Peabody, made national headlines in 1964 when, at age 72, she was jailed in Florida for taking part in a civil rights demonstration. (A documentary on FitzGerald, her mother and grandmother called "The Female Line" was televised by PBS in 1980.) FitzGerald’s parents divorced in 1947, and her mother married millionaire and former Parliament member, Ronald Tree.
FitzGerald grew up in a household where statesmen and politicians, including Winston Churchill and Anthony Eden, were routinely entertained, as well as leaders in journalism and communications and other figures in the world of power. FitzGerald was active with her mother in Adlai Stevenson’s campaign for the presidency in 1952, and Stevenson took her to visit Albert Schweitzer in Africa when she was 16.
Her favorite activity in childhood, aside from reading, was horseback riding. After graduating from the Dalton School in Manhattan, she went to Foxcroft School in Middlesburg, Va., since it was the only acceptable prep school that would allow her to keep a horse. She began to take writing seriously there because of a demanding English teacher, and was at the head of her class at Foxcroft. She went to Radcliffe and majored in Middle Eastern history, and received her B.A. degree magna cum laude in 1962.
After graduation, she went to France to write a novel and in Paris, joined the Congress for Cultural Freedom that published magazines and conducted seminars for non-Communist European intellectuals. She gave up writing fiction.
In 1964, FitzGerald returned to New York City and wrote profiles for the New York Herald Tribune Sunday magazine. After the paper folded in 1966, she contributed to Vogue and the Village Voice, later contributing to the New York Review of Books and the New York Times Magazine among other publications.
Her father advised her to find a subject on which she could write with dedication, and she chose the Vietnam War. She went to Saigon in 1966 and stayed for almost a year. She gradually obtained the perception that the basic conflict in Vietnam was a class of two cultures. She was influenced by "Sociologie d’une guerre," by French anthropologist Paul Mus, who explained how Ho Chi Minh’s Communist revolution was tied to the Confucian character of Vietnamese society and efforts to stop it were futile. First writing quick articles on the war, after returning to the United States she wrote a more conscientious article in 1967 for the Atlantic Monthly on Vietnam politics. She received the Overseas Press Club Award for the article, and it propelled her towards writing a book on the war. Paul Mus, who had been teaching at Yale, contacted her after he saw the "Atlantic Monthly" article, and the two worked together until his death in 1969.
She completed "Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam" in 1971 and it was published in 1972. The title was taken from an expression in the "I Ching," and is symbolic of revolution in traditional Vietnamese usage. The book had immediate great popularity, and FitzGerald became more involved in antiwar activism, giving talks around the country on behalf of the Indochina Peace Committee.
While teaching a journalism class at the University of California in 1978, she became interested in the homosexual community in San Francisco. She looked for other recently-developed communities that showed white middle-class cultural differences, and found such a group in Sun City, an all-adult retirement community in Florida, and in the Rajneeshpuram," a controversial "New Age" commune in Oregon. This serves as the basis of her book, "Cities on a Hill: A Journey Through Contemporary American Cultures," published in 1986.
Though she has had discreet romantic liaisons over the years, FitzGerald remained single and lives in Manhattan, NY.