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Zelda Fitzgerald (Sayre)

Birthplace: Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama, United States
Death: March 11, 1948 (47)
Asheville, Buncombe County, NC, United States
Place of Burial: Rockville, Montgomery County, MD, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Anthony Dickinson Sayre and Minerva Buckner "Minnie" Sayre
Wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald
Mother of Frances Scott Fitzgerald
Sister of Daniel Morgan Sayre; Marjorie Brinson; Daniel Morgan Sayre; Rosalind "Tootsie" Smith; Clothilde "Tilde" Palmer and 2 others

Occupation: novelist
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Zelda Fitzgerald

Some sources reports Layne as her middle name.

She was the daughter of an Alabama Supreme Court Judge.

She was an icon of the 1920s—dubbed by her husband "the first American Flapper". After the success of his first novel This Side of Paradise, the Fitzgeralds became celebrities. The newspapers of New York saw them as embodiments of the Jazz Age and the Roaring Twenties: young, rich, beautiful, and energetic.

Zelda Sayre grew up in a wealthy and prim southern family. Even as a child her audacious behavior was the subject of Montgomery gossip. Shortly after finishing high school, she met F. Scott Fitzgerald at a dance. A whirlwind courtship ensued. Though he had professed his infatuation, she continued seeing other men. Despite fights and a prolonged break-up, they married in 1920, and spent the early part of the decade as literary celebrities in New York. Later in the 1920s, they moved to Europe, recast as famous expatriates of the Lost Generation. While Scott received acclaim for The Great Gatsby and his short stories, and the couple socialized with literary luminaries like Ernest Hemingway, their marriage was a tangle of jealousy, resentment and acrimony. Scott used their relationship as material in his novels, even lifting snippets from Zelda's diary and assigning them to his fictional heroines. Seeking an artistic identity of her own, Zelda wrote magazine articles and short stories, and at 27 became obsessed with a career as a ballerina, practicing to exhaustion.

The strain of her tempestuous marriage, Scott's increasing alcoholism, and her growing instability presaged Zelda's admittance to a sanatorium in 1930. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia. While in a Maryland clinic, she wrote a semi-autobiographical novel, Save Me the Waltz, which was published in 1932. Scott was furious that she had used material from their life together, though he had done the same, such as in Tender Is the Night, published in 1934; the two novels provide contrasting portrayals of the couple's failing marriage.

Back in America, Scott went to Hollywood where he tried screenwriting and began an affair with the movie columnist Sheilah Graham. In 1936, Zelda entered the Highland Mental Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina. Scott died in Hollywood in 1940, having last seen Zelda a year and a half earlier. She spent her remaining years working on a second novel, which she never completed, and she painted extensively. In 1948, the hospital at which she had been a patient caught fire, causing her death. Interest in the Fitzgeralds resurged shortly after her death: the couple has been the subject of popular books, movies and scholarly attention. After a life as an emblem of the Jazz Age, Roaring Twenties, and Lost Generation, Zelda Fitzgerald posthumously found a new role: after a popular 1970 biography portrayed her as a victim of an overbearing husband, she became a feminist icon.

Writer/Artist. Zelda Sayre was the youngest child of Judge Anthony Dickinson Sayre and his wife Minnie. As a child and teenager, she led a wild existance in the quiet town of Montgomery, AL. She met F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1918 and after the publication of his first novel "This Side of Paradise" they married on April 3rd, 1920. Their only child, Frances Scott Fitzgerald, was born in October 1921. Her marriage to Scott was not perfect, while their antics catapulted them to celebrity status and were fictionalized in Scott's books, there were also fights, affairs, and constant problems with debt.

They moved to several places around New York, St. Paul and France for the first few years. At the age of 27, Zelda began ballet lessons with Madame Lubov Egorova in hopes of becoming a prima ballerina, which at her age was impossible. Beginning in 1930, Zelda would be committed (and released) to several mental institutions after being diagnosed with schizophrenia, the final time committing herself to Highland Hospital in Asheville, NC.

In 1932, she published her only novel "Save Me the Waltz", which was an almost autobiographical account of her life up to that point. She also published a play, "Scandalabra"; several short stories and articles; and she also created a large number of paintings, paper dolls, and sketches which some were intended to be passed on to her daughter and grandchildren. 

After Scott passed away in 1940, she began a second novel, "Caesar's Things" which was never finished and covered similar ground as her first book. Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald died in a fire which broke out at Highland Hospital on March 10th, 1948.

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Zelda Fitzgerald's Timeline

July 24, 1900
Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama, United States
October 26, 1921
St. Paul Ramsey, Saint Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota, United States
March 11, 1948
Age 47
Asheville, Buncombe County, NC, United States
Rockville, Montgomery County, MD, United States