Early life and family background[ edit ] Zelda Sayre at 19, in dance costume Born in Montgomery, Alabama , Zelda Sayre was the youngest of six children. A spoiled child, Zelda was doted upon by her mother, but her father, Anthony Dickinson Sayre —  —a justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama and one of Alabama's leading jurists—was a strict and remote man.
The family was descended from early settlers of Long Island , who had moved to Alabama before the Civil War. By the time of Zelda's birth, the Sayres were a prominent Southern family. Her great-uncle, John Tyler Morgan , served six terms in the United States Senate ; her paternal grandfather edited a newspaper in Montgomery; and her maternal grandfather was Willis Benson Machen , who served a partial term as a U. Newman Smith — , Clothilde Sayre Mrs.
John Palmer — , and Lenora Sayre , who died of diphtheria at age two. As a child, Zelda Sayre was extremely active. She danced, took ballet lessons and enjoyed the outdoors. She was bright, but uninterested in her lessons. Her work in ballet continued into high school, where she had an active social life. She drank, smoked and spent much of her time with boys, and she remained a leader in the local youth social scene. Consequently, Sayre's antics were shocking to many of those around her, and she became—along with her childhood friend and future Hollywood starlet Tallulah Bankhead —a mainstay of Montgomery gossip.
Why should all life be work, when we all can borrow? Let's think only of today, and not worry about tomorrow.
Scott Fitzgerald[ edit ] Main article: Scott Fitzgerald in July , when he had volunteered for the army, and was stationed at Camp Sheridan, outside Montgomery.
Scott began to call her daily, and came into Montgomery on his free days. He was so taken by Zelda that he redrafted the character of Rosalind Connage in This Side of Paradise to resemble her.
At the conclusion of This Side of Paradise, the soliloquy of the protagonist Amory Blaine in the cemetery, for example, is taken directly from her journal. Scott Fitzgerald was known to appreciate and take from Zelda's letters, even at one point borrowing her diary while he was writing This Side of Paradise.
There was allegedly discussion between the men of publishing it under the name of "The Diary of a Popular Girl". In the ledger that he meticulously maintained throughout his life, Scott noted in , on September 7, that he had fallen in love. Ultimately, she would do the same. Her biographer Nancy Milford wrote, "Scott had appealed to something in Zelda which no one before him had perceived: While he was there, the Armistice with Germany was signed.
He then returned to the base near Montgomery, and by December they were inseparable. Scott would later describe their behavior as "sexual recklessness. When he heard the novel had been accepted, Scott wrote to his editor Maxwell Perkins , urging an accelerated release: Zelda agreed to marry him once the book was published;  he, in turn, promised to bring her to New York with "all the iridescence of the beginning of the world.
Patrick's Cathedral , they married. Scott saw the novel's publication as the way to Zelda's heart. They were ordered to leave both the Biltmore Hotel and the Commodore Hotel for their drunkenness. When Dorothy Parker first met them, Zelda and Scott were sitting atop a taxi. Parker said, "They did both look as though they had just stepped out of the sun; their youth was striking.
Everyone wanted to meet him. Publicly, this meant little more than napping when they arrived at parties, but privately it increasingly led to bitter fights. They decided to go to Scott's home in St. Paul, Minnesota to have the baby. Isn't she smart—she has the hiccups. I hope it's beautiful and a fool—a beautiful little fool. Then ask if there are any eggs, and if so try and persuade the cook to poach two of them. It is better not to attempt toast, as it burns very easily.
Also, in the case of bacon, do not turn the fire too high, or you will have to get out of the house for a week. Serve preferably on china plates, though gold or wood will do if handy. Although some writers have said that Scott's diaries include an entry referring to "Zelda and her abortionist", there is, in fact, no such entry. Zelda's thoughts on the second pregnancy are unknown, but in the first draft of The Beautiful and Damned , the novel Scott was completing, he wrote a scene in which the main female character Gloria believes she is pregnant and Anthony suggests she "talk to some woman and find out what's best to be done.
Most of them fix it some way. In her review, she made joking reference to the use of her diaries in Scott's work, but the lifted material became a genuine source of resentment: It seems to me that on one page I recognized a portion of an old diary of mine which mysteriously disappeared shortly after my marriage, and, also, scraps of letters which, though considerably edited, sound to me vaguely familiar.
Fitzgerald—I believe that is how he spells his name—seems to believe that plagiarism begins at home. Though ostensibly a piece about the decline of the flapper lifestyle, Zelda's biographer Nancy Milford wrote that the essay was "a defense of her own code of existence. The Flapper awoke from her lethargy of sub-deb-ism, bobbed her hair, put on her choicest pair of earrings and a great deal of audacity and rouge and went into the battle.
She flirted because it was fun to flirt and wore a one-piece bathing suit because she had a good figure Mothers disapproved of their sons taking the Flapper to dances, to teas, to swim and most of all to heart. She helped Scott write the play The Vegetable, but when it flopped the Fitzgeralds found themselves in debt. Scott wrote short stories furiously to pay the bills, but became burned out and depressed. After six weeks, Zelda asked for a divorce. Scott at first demanded to confront Jozan, but instead dealt with Zelda's demand by locking her in their house, until she abandoned her request for divorce.
Jozan did not know she'd asked for a divorce. He left the Riviera later that year, and the Fitzgeralds never saw him again.
Later in life he told Zelda's biographer Milford that any infidelity was imaginary: He writes of lost illusions in The Great Gatsby as his lost certainty in Zelda's fidelity. The book reflected the dramatized pivotal aspects of his and Zelda's love, of courtship, break, restoration with financial success, and the Jozan betrayal: In September, Zelda overdosed on sleeping pills.
The couple never spoke of the incident, and refused to discuss whether or not it was a suicide attempt. Scott returned to writing, finishing The Great Gatsby in October. They attempted to celebrate with travel to Rome and Capri , but both were unhappy and unhealthy. When he received the proofs from his novel he fretted over the title: It was Zelda who preferred The Great Gatsby. Hemingway and Scott Fitzgerald became firm friends, but Zelda and Hemingway disliked each other from their very first meeting, and she openly described him as "bogus,"  "that fairy with hair on his chest" and "phoney as a rubber check.
In an embellishment, the Fitzgeralds told the Hemingways that the affair ended when Jozan committed suicide. Gertrude Stein , Alice B. Toklas , Robert McAlmon and others. There is no evidence that either was homosexual, but Scott nonetheless decided to have sex with a prostitute to prove his heterosexuality.
Zelda found condoms that he had purchased before any encounter occurred, and a bitter fight ensued, resulting in lingering jealousy. I sat next to Zelda, who was at her iridescent best. Some of Scott's friends were irritated; others were enchanted, by her. I was one of the ones who were charmed. She had the waywardness of a Southern belle and the lack of inhibitions of a child. She talked with so spontaneous a color and wit—almost exactly in the way she wrote—that I very soon ceased to be troubled by the fact that the conversation was in the nature of a 'free association' of ideas and one could never follow up anything.
I have rarely known a woman who expressed herself so delightfully and so freshly: It evaporated easily, however, and I remember only one thing she said that night: She would often interrupt him when he was working, and the two grew increasingly miserable throughout the s. Scott had become severely alcoholic, Zelda's behavior became increasingly erratic, and neither made any progress on their creative endeavors.
She had been praised for her dancing skills as a child, and although the opinions of their friends vary as to her skill, it appears that she did have a fair degree of talent. But Scott was totally dismissive of his wife's desire to become a professional dancer, considering it a waste of time. The clinic primarily treated gastrointestinal ailments , and because of her profound psychological problems she was moved to a psychiatric facility, in Prangins on the shores of Lake Geneva. She was released in September , and the Fitzgeralds returned to Montgomery, Alabama, where her father, Judge Sayre, was dying.
Amid her family's bereavement, Scott announced that he was leaving for Hollywood. By February , she had returned to living in a psychiatric clinic. Over the course of her first six weeks at the clinic, she wrote an entire novel and sent it to Scott's publisher, Maxwell Perkins. The book was a semi-autobiographical account of the Fitzgeralds' marriage. In letters, Scott berated her and fumed that the novel had drawn upon the autobiographical material that he planned to use in Tender Is the Night , which he'd been working on for years, and which would finally see publication in Though the Great Depression had struck America, Scribner agreed to publish her book, and a printing of 3, copies was released on October 7, The protagonist of the novel is Alabama Beggs like Zelda, the daughter of a Southern judge , who marries David Knight, an aspiring painter who abruptly becomes famous for his work.
They live the fast life in Connecticut before departing to live in France. Dissatisfied with her marriage, Alabama throws herself into ballet. Though told she has no chance, she perseveres and after three years becomes the lead dancer in an opera company.