The following are eight interest things about Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald that one may not know. While researching Zelda, I came to the personal conclusions that Zelda had a zest for life that no one of her day could touch. Her artistic flare forever changed the opinion of women and their place in the world. She was a brilliant and vivid writer whose private work was utilized by her husband, making him more popular than he may have deserved.
- For Zelda, marriage represented a new lease on life, the only way out of her small-town existence as someone’s daughter, without any rights of her own. For a year, Scott struggled unsuccessfully to make his fortune in the advertising business, but Zelda grew tired of waiting. When he professed that he could not be successful without her by his side and proposed, she broke the engagement because she felt too much pressure. She insisted that he find success first on his own.
- Well before Zelda met F. Scott Fitzgerald and became an embodiment of Jazz Age glamour and indulgence, Zelda Sayre was an icon in her hometown. In the genteel locale of upper-class Montgomery, Alabama, the teenaged Zelda smoked cigarettes, spent more time with boys than was thought proper, danced naked in the lily pond, and generally attracted much attention where ever she went. Zelda was, by all accounts, the pre-eminent belle of Montgomery.
- Scott’s first novel, This Side of Paradise, made Scott rich within the year, and Zelda married him a week after its publication. As his wife, she embarked on a new life as a flapper – a freethinking woman with the world at her disposal. She was a huge influence on Scott’s writing, providing much of the material for his novels and short stories throughout their engagement and marriage. Scott frequently quoted her and her letters directly, using her words as the voice for several of his female characters. Zelda painted the cover of This Side of Paradise. She also drew the character image of Gatsby in Scott’s later book, The Great Gatsby
- While living in Paris, Zelda’s first art exhibition was held. It was there that Ernest Hemingway told Scott that Zelda was going to be more popular than he. Ernest told Scott he should start locking her up. It was shortly after this he did just that. Zelda was often locked in their apartment for days at a time.
- At the late age of 27, Zelda decided she want to become a ballerina. She studied with a famous Parisian Instructor, but three years of intense ballet work, and eight hours a day rehearsals, damaged her health, and prompted her first mental breakdown, diagnosed as “nervous exhaustion”, in 1930. Zelda was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia (which she did not have), and would reside in and out of hospitals for the rest of her life. During her stay at Johns Hopkins hospital in 1932, she was diagnosed as having “no mental disorder,” she wrote her first and only novel: “Save Me the Waltz.” By today’s standards, it is believed that Zelda suffered from a Bi-Polar disorder.
- In 1936 Zelda entered the Highland Mental Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina. Through the years she returned to the hospital on several occasions. It was there she died there in 1948 when a massive fire swept through the building, where Zelda was locked in a room.
- Zelda lived with a host of demons, some in person, and some in thought and some through alcohol and drugs. Zelda experienced extreme personal circumstances, some inflected by others, that altered the outcome of her life. A metaphoric candle whose life simply burnt out.
- America’s first flapper, our Montgomery Southern Belle, in 1992 became a member of Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame. Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, may your spirit live on in the creative minds of us all.