|| Home | Contents |||| Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald and the Jazz Age ||
|| Quick Summary | Details | Bibliography ||
and the Jazz Age
Zelda Sayre, an Alabama native who married F. Scott Fitzgerald, epitomized the Jazz Age and the "Flapper."
Born in Montgomery in 1900, Zelda belonged to a conservative, upper middle-class, and Episcopalian family. Spoiled and adventuresome, she rebelled against the conservatism of her family and the traditional southern society of Montgomery. Tales and legends abound about her unconventional behavior as a child and teenager.
World War I brought change to Montgomery and the presence of thousands of soldiers and airmen stationed at camps and airfields near the city. Among these was Lt. F. Scott Fitzgerald, an aspiring novelist. After a tumultuous courtship, Zelda and Scott married in New York City in 1920.
As Scott gained fame as a writer, the extravagant antics of Scott and Zelda came to represent the Jazz Age and the Roaring Twenties to the American public. Zelda provided inspiration to Scott as the model for many of the women in his novels and short stories, but she struggled to find her own identity and an avenue for her own creativity.
Under Scott's guidance, Zelda began to write short stories, often published under her husband's name or a joint by-line. When the Fitzgeralds joined the American expatriate group in Europe, she resumed ballet training, a girlhood passion, but it became an obsession.
Tension grew in the marriage as Scott's drive to succeed led him into depression and bouts of drinking. In the late 1920s, Zelda began a pattern of mental collapse that would lead her in and out of hospitals and sanatoriums for the rest of her life. Diagnosed as schizophrenic, Zelda completed her only novel, Save Me the Waltz, while hospitalized in 1932. Scott appeared to resent her work, which was autobiographical in nature, feeling that he was the "professional" writer who had a right to draw upon their personal life for writing inspiration. Although not a critical success when published, the novel had a better reception when reissued in the late 1960s.
After Scott's death in 1940, Zelda continued to suffer from episodes of mental illness and hospitalization followed by more tranquil periods when she lived with her mother in Montgomery. She died in a fire while hospitalized in North Carolina in 1948.