This book is dedicated to Marmoset Adler, Vic Smith, Esme Ashley-Smith, A. Het Shackman
‘Everybody was so young’ (Sara Murphy)
to Ba Sheppard
‘They were banking in gods those years’ (Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald)
to Marion Callen
‘Once Again to Em’ (after F. Scott Fitzgerald)
to Rosemary Smith
‘[S]he knew everything’ (Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald)
In memory of Larry Adler 10 February 1914–7 August 2001
‘Life seemed so promissory always when he was around’
(Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald)
Abbreviations and Notes on Endnotes
Zelda’ by Helen Dunmore
INTRODUCTION: MYTHICAL VOICES: MAPPING THE MYTH
PART I SOUTHERN VOICE 1900–April 1920
PART II NORTHERN VOICE April 1920–April 1924
PART III FOREIGN VOICES May 1924–December 1926
PART IV CREATIVE VOICES January 1927–1929
PART V OTHER VOICES 1929–1940
PART VI IN HER OWN VOICE 1941– March 1948
Readers who wish to see Zelda Fitzgerald’s paintings can:
read Zelda: An Illustrated Life, ed. Eleanor Lanahan, Harry N. Abrams Inc., New York, 1996;
contact the Visual Materials Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library, where there are copies of the slides of Zelda’s paintings;
contact Sally Cline (c/o John Murray (Publishers) Ltd) who also has copies of the slides.
The author and publisher would like to thank the following for their kind permission to reproduce illustrations: 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 12, 13, 14, 20, 28, 29, 33, 34, 35: photographs from the F. Scott Fitzgerald archives at Princeton University Library used by permission of Harold Ober Associates as agents for the Fitzgerald Trustees, reproduced courtesy of Princeton University Library; 3: by permission of Sally Cline, Cambridge, UK; 9: courtesy of Edward Pattillo, Montgomery, Alabama; 10: Estate of the late Grace Gunter Lane, courtesy of Fairlie Lane Haynes, Montgomery, Alabama; 11, 19, 32: by kind permission of Pat Sprague Reneau, California; 15, 16: Lloyd C. Hackl, Center City, Minnesota; 17, 18: courtesy of Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore. Reproduced by permission; 22: © 1997 Meryle Secrest, Washington DC; 23: Papers of Djuna Barnes, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries; 25: copyright 2002 Estate of the late Honoria Murphy Donnelly, courtesy of John C. Donnelly, Florida; 26: courtesy of the Bruccoli Collection of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Cooper Library, The University of South Carolina; 27: from the Scribner Archives. Courtesy Scribner/Simon & Schuster (reproduced courtesy of Princeton University Library); 30: used by permission of Harold Ober Associates as agents for the Fitzgerald Trustees, courtesy of Cecilia Ross (also courtesy of Princeton University Library); 31: used by permission of Harold Ober Associates as agents for the Fitzgerald Trustees, courtesy of Samuel J. Lanahan Jnr (also courtesy of Princeton University Library); 36: (photograph by Koula Svokos Hartnett, Columbus, Ohio, 1990) copyright Koula Svokos Hartnett in Zelda Fitzgerald and the Failure of the American Dream for Women, 1991, Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., New York; 37: used by permission of Harold Ober Associates as agents for the Fitzgerald Trustees, courtesy of Eleanor Lanahan; 38: courtesy of Mary Parker, North Carolina; 39: North Carolina Collection, Pack Memorial Public Library, Asheville, North Carolina.
This is in no way an authorized biography but without the unstinting support of Zelda Fitzgerald’s granddaughter Bobbie (Eleanor) Lanahan, and through her the Fitzgerald family and Estate, it could not have been adequately researched. My most significant acknowledgement is therefore to Bobbie, herself a painter, for showing me Zelda’s paintings, analysing her artwork, sharing her knowledge, spending several weeks talking to me and giving me photographs and slides of Zelda’s paintings. For five years she has facilitated my access to the wide network of Fitzgerald friends and relations across the USA. Bobbie did not necessarily agree with my findings but with rare generosity she guided me, removed obstacles from my path and was a constant source of encouragement.
An initial interest in my work came from Henry Dunow of the Fitzgerald Estate, which was followed by unprecedented help from Zelda’s other granddaughter Cecilia Lanahan Ross who exchanged ideas and gave me the gift of Scottie’s memoir. I am further indebted to their father the late Samuel Lanahan, to their brother Samuel Lanahan Jnr and to Scott Fitzgerald’s nieces Courtney Sprague Vaughan and Pat Sprague Reneau, for photographs, paintings, memoirs and family information. I am most appreciative to Chris Byrne of the Harold Ober Literary Agency for his initial help over permissions and to Craig Tenney, also of Harold Ober, in the later stages.
I have been fortunate in being given seven awards for this biographical research. I owe special debts of gratitude to the British Academy for their Independent Scholar’s Research Award; to the Society of Authors initially for their Writer’s Award and in the last stages of the book for a further award; and to the Eastern Arts Board for three bursaries, all of which enabled me to travel and work in Europe and America with time to peruse archives, to live in cities inhabited by the Fitzgeralds and to view Zelda’s paintings in private collections and museums throughout the USA.
I thank Princeton University for their Fellowship and two years’ access to the Rare Books Department in the Firestone Library where the major Fitzgerald archives and photographs are held. The Rare Books Curator of Manuscripts, Don Skemer, shared with me his invaluable knowledge and came to my aid warmly and cleverly many times. Great gratitude is given to John Delaney (Chairman, Fellowship Committee), Ben Primer (Fellowship Committee) and to William Joyce (former Associate University Librarian) most especially for his generosity over permissions for the use of slides and photos. I thank also Jennifer Bowden, Chris Dupin, Charles Eyre Greene (Keeper of the Reading Room), Monica Ruscil, Jane Snedeker, Susan Waterman. For AnnaLee Paul’s hours of patient photoduplication and her lasting friendship I am very appreciative. Above all I thank Peggy Sherry, the Reference Librarian and Archivist, who gave me several months of professional help and who, together with Stuart Rich, made my long stay in Princeton feel like home. During my Princeton sojourn I was fortunate in meeting the scholar Raymond Cormier, who enlivened my days with fascinating ideas on Zelda and who untiringly maintained a further three-year stimulating correspondence.
I thank John Hurley and Jane Raper for helping me find accommodation in Princeton, Judy Thompson and Al and Betty Cohen for providing it, Ann and Mitsuru Yasuhara and Liz Socolow for their local knowledge and hospitality.
I wish to thank those Fitzgerald scholars and biographers who have gone before me from whom I received illuminating insights. They include the premier Fitzgerald scholar Matthew J. Bruccoli and his assistant Judith Baughman who were constantly courteous and informative, Jackson R. Bryer, Scott Donaldson (a memorable lunchtime talk on Hemingway and Fitzgerald), Koula Svokos Hartnett (five years’ discussions and communications), Nancy Milford (who put aside her own writing for a lengthy interview), Ted Mitchell for a riveting exchange of ideas over Caesar’s Things and Zelda’s death, Ruth Prigozy (who gave me food, drink, contacts, articles, information, advice and guidance), Frances Kroll Ring (two long interviews and two years’ correspondence), Jacqueline Tavernier-Courbin (several Save Me The Waltz discourses), and James West. The late James Mellow’s biography of Zelda and Scott was a constant source of inspiration.
From the many people involved in the Fitzgeralds’ lives who showered me with kindness, conversation and counsel I would mention particularly Waverly Barbe, Tony Buttitta (who gave me two long interviews and a marvellous tea when he was gravely ill), Lucy Dos Passos Coggin, Carol Lobman Hart, the late Grace Gunter Lane, Ring Lardner Jnr, the late Ida Haardt McCulloch, Sally Wood Millsap, Mary Parker, the late Dr Irving Pine, Landon Ray, Budd Schulberg, Joanne Turnbull and Janie Wall. Exceptional help in the shape of family photographs, afternoon teas, tapes, slides, videos, letters, documents, memories and conversational enchantments came from Fanny Myers Brennan and the late Honoria Murphy Donnelly.
Institutions, librarians, curators, archivists, journalists, academics who have contributed information, interviews, materials include: Alabama Department of Archives and History; Anglia Polytechnic University Library, Cambridge; Arbury Court Library, Cambridge; Asheville Chamber of Commerce; Asheville Charter Hospital; Asheville Citizen Times; Asheville Fire Department; Atlanta Constitution and Journal; Atlanta Fulton Public Library; Birmingham Public Library, Alabama; Cambridge University Library; Lana Burgess (Assistant Curator, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts); Mitchell Dakelman (Hoorman Library, Wagner College, New York); Harvard University; Vincent Fitzpatrick and Averil Kadis (Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore) for wonderful photographs and information on the Menckens; Kim Korby Fraser (Ladies Home Journal, New York); Chandler W. Gordon (Captain’s Bookshelf, Asheville); Antonia Hodgson (for help with Dolly Wilde information); Chris Jakes and his team at the Cambridgeshire Collection, Cambridge Central Library, who provided weeks of help with archival microfilms; the John F. Kennedy Library; Journal of the American Medical Association; Frances Kessler (Esquire); Dr Levington, Medical Superintendent, Charter Hospital (formerly Highland Hospital); Nancy Magnuson (Librarian, Julia Rogers Library, Goucher College); Malaprop’s Bookstore, Asheville; Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore; Nancy McCall (Archivist, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions); the endlessly helpful out-of-print team at Micawber Bookstore, Princeton; Minnesota Historical Society; the Montgomery Advertiser; New York Public Library; Don Noble (University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa); the Princeton Packet; Princeton University Bookstore team; Rebecca Roberts (Sara Mayfield Collection, University of Alabama); Shannon Scarborough (Birmingham News, Alabama); Kathy Shoemaker (Special Collections, Woodruff Library, Emory University, Atlanta); Dr James Stephenson (Assistant Dean, University of West Virginia); Town Topics, Princeton; Troy State University, Montgomery; University of Georgia Library; J. Willis (New York Times); Ann S. Wright (Special Collections Librarian, Asheville Buncombe Library).
For manuscript reading, advice, networking, medical help, and encouragement of many kinds I thank: Tim Barnwell (for exceptional photos of the fire), Davina Belling, Larry Belling, Carl Brandt, Stephen Bristow, Heidi Bullock (Zelda’s art), the Cambridge Women Readers Group, Tracy Cams (for her enthusiasm over a Zelda lunch), Gwynneth Conder, Kirk Curnutt (discourse on fundamentalism and madness), Heather Dearnaley, Michelle Dodsworth, Kay Dunbar, Olga Foottit, Mary Gordon, Wayne Greenhaw, Katherine Grimshaw, Allan Gurganus (for the typed version of his talk on ‘Sacrificial Couples’), Ann Henley, Jan Hensley (for recovering news reports and making me tapes), Jane Jaffey, Joel Jaffey, Carol Jones, Jean Kesler, Stella King, Heidi Kuntz, Cheryl Lean, Alan Margolies, Nancy Marlen, Josie McConnell, Eileen McGuckian, Bonnie McMullen, Graham Metson, Jane Miller, Linda Patterson Miller, James Moody, Kathy Mullen, Erin Murphy, Andrea Porter, Aliye Seif, Ruth Shaw, Gail Sinclair, Keith Soothill, Deborah Thorn, Eleanor Vale (who in my absence sustained my house during a massive burglary with great courage), Nancy VanArsdale (many interesting talks in Asheville), Linda Wagner-Martin, Ralph Ward, Alison West, Alisa Hornung Weyman. I owe special thanks to Kathy Bowles and Chris Carling for their unending enthusiasm, encouragement and wise counsel.
The infectious optimism of several writers and artists has sustained me: I thank the Cambridge Women Writers Group (Joy Magezis, Chris Carling, Geraldine Ryan, Marion Callen), Julia Darling, Millicent Dillon (for six years’ long distance writerly support), Helen Dunmore (for the gift of her ‘Zelda’ poem), Kathryn Hughes, Christina Johnson, Neil McKenna, Cliff McNish, Marion Meade (for spirited discussions about Dorothy Parker), Wendy Mulford, Michelle Spring, and especially Marion Elizabeth Rodgers for her intriguing biographical insights into H. L. Mencken and Sara Haardt and her constant optimism. I am also grateful to Andrew Lownie and the stimulation of the Biographers’ Club. For advice on Zelda’s art I thank Frankie (Frances) Borzello, Julia Ball, Carolyn Shafer and Jane S. Livingston.
In Montgomery I thank Julian and Leslie McPhillips, who direct the Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum, for accommodation, entertainment, enormous Southern hospitality and constant chauffeuring, and at the Museum Elena Aleinikov for her valuable assistance and several meals. I owe a major debt of gratitude to Eddie Pattillo, my encyclopaedic wise and funny guide, who more than anyone helped me to comprehend the nature of the Deep South. In Tuscaloosa Camella Mayfield (literary executor of the Sara Mayfield Collection) spent many months minutely tracking documents and offering personal and professional insights into the relationship between Zelda, Sara Mayfield and Tallullah Bankhead.
In St Paul and Center City Minnesota I am grateful to Lloyd Hackl and Barbara Paetznick for city tours, historical research, a folder of unpublished Kalman letters, accommodation and incredible warmth and hospitality. Lloyd trod in Scott’s trails with me and helped me understand Scott’s community. In Burlington, Vermont, I am grateful to Susan O’Brien for accommodation, information and the freedom to write and roam through her lovely house. In New York I thank Anne Gurnett and Jonathan Bander for accommodation, unstinting guidance, laughter and several exciting art tours. For five years’ writing space in Sennen Cove, Cornwall, where much of this book was written, I thank Jean Adams and Susan Willis.
I feel remarkably fortunate that John Murray, my London publishers, genuinely love books and are concerned for their authors’ well-being. Thank you to John Murray, Grant McIntyre, Stephanie Allen and my patient resourceful copy editor Anne Boston. Caroline Westmore has stood between me and trouble many times with delightful good humour and superb skill. My editor Caroline Knox is always courteous, sometimes critical (usually correct!) and knows just how to get the best from her author.
Barbara Levy, my good friend and perceptive literary agent, has rigorously read and analysed every chapter. I thank her and her lively helpful assistant Lindsay Schusman for critical comments, tact and always being on my side. For typing, photocopying and editorial assistance I thank Caroline Middleton and Stephanie Croxton Blake in Britain and Karen S. Doerstling in Princeton, and for hours of hard work on the bibliography I thank Jo Wroe.
I have relied on the excellence of my talented research assistant Rosemary Smith more than on anyone else. Scholarly, clever and kind, she has an encyclopaedic memory for detail and with perseverance and meticulous craft she has transcribed hundreds of tapes, typed all the research notes, devised charts, organized research systems, sorted photographs, done sterling work on the bibliography, cut, edited and helped structure every draft and the final version and kept me afloat.
I am indebted to the Royal Literary Fund, London, for its awards of two Writers’ Fellowships (2000–2001 and 2001–2002) which have enabled me to write up the research with a strong measure of security. I am continuously grateful to Hilary Spurling, originator of the Fellowship Scheme, and to the imaginative thoughtful Steve Cook, its director. My Fellowship has been tenable at Anglia Polytechnic University Cambridge, where my time in the English Department has been joyous. At Anglia I thank my three student researchers: Jason Austen Guest (for editorial aid), Sally Peters (illuminations about Zelda’s art), most of all Miranda Landgraf (for clarity, constant attentiveness and sensitive skilled cutting). I thank Shirley Prendergast for research insights, Clare Bruges for her warmth and fortitude, the Dean, Rick Rylance; and my colleagues Rick Allen, David Booy, Peter Cattermole, Nora Crook, Mark Currie, Simon Featherstone, John Gilroy, Ted Holt, Mary Joannou, Kim Landers, Kate Rhodes, Anna Snaith, Carol Thomas, Gina Whisker, Vicki Williamson, Sue Wilson, for their encouragement. In particular Tory Young (for her vivacity), Ed Esche (for his daily supportive, often political conversations), Nigel Wheale (for his poetic wisdom and friendship) and most of all my writer friend and Head of Department, Rebecca Stott. Rebecca has read and edited many chapters, has spent long hours after work discussing the book’s minutiae. She has made a significant sparkling professional contribution to this book for which my gratitude is beyond formal words.
On the domestic front one person is owed a benediction: my friend Angie North who runs my house and cares for my cat and deals with all emergencies during my research trips abroad. There could not be any research without her formidable kindness.
As always I could not have written this biography without the inspiration, love and support of my family and extended family.
First I thank Em Marion Callen, who knows every line of Zelda’s art, who trod in Zelda’s footsteps with me throughout the Deep South and in Scott’s footsteps in Princeton and New York. When I faltered she didn’t. Her very presence cheered me on.
I thank next Jonathan Harris, Joan Harris, Miles Ashley-Smith, Beth Callen, Aaron Callen, Molly Smith Callen and Elsie Sheppard. Laura Williams kept me going when she was perilously ill herself with a bravery Zelda would have admired. Jane Shackman was always ready to listen to drafts; and at hard moments Manda Callen calmed me down and Vic Smith cheered me up. Aunt Het (Harriet) Shackman rang me four times a week for five years to console or congratulate. Larry Adler, who knew most participants in the Fitzgeralds’ drama, encouraged the project for years and was still encouraging when he died just before I wrote the last chapter. My stepchildren, Peter Adler, Wendy Adler Sonnenberg, Carole Adler Van Wieck, were wonderfully supportive during those last weeks. Ba Sheppard, after twenty-four years of faithfully challenging and enthusing me, this time read every page of the final draft and suggested pertinent provocative cuts and edits. She enhanced the text and empowered the writer. My daughter Marmoset Adler, who has had the hardest year of her young life, never once stopped showering me with cuttings, photocopies and clever ideas. I thank her most of all.
The author and publisher would like to thank the following for permission to reproduce quotations. Quotations from the Fitzgerald holdings in the Manuscripts Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library, are published with permission of the Princeton University Library. Excerpts from Save Me The Waltz by Zelda Fitzgerald: reprinted with permission of Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group, from Zelda Fitzgerald: The Collected Writings, edited by Matthew J. Bruccoli. Copyright 1932 by Charles Scribner’s Sons. Copyright renewed © 1960 by Frances Scott Fitzgerald Lanahan. Excerpts from short stories, articles and letters by Zelda Fitzgerald reprinted with permission of Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group, from Zelda Fitzgerald: The Collected Writings, edited by Matthew J. Bruccoli. Copyright © 1991 by The Trustees under Agreement Dated July 3, 1975. Created by Frances Scott Fitzgerald Smith. Excerpts reprinted with permission of Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group, from F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Life in Letters, edited by Matthew J. Bruccoli. Copyright © 1994 by The Trustees under Agreement Dated July 3, 1975. Created by Frances Scott Fitzgerald Smith. Excerpts reprinted with permission of Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group, from Dear Scott/Dear Max: The Fitzgerald-Perkins Correspondence, edited by John Kuehl and Jackson Bryer. Copyright © 1971 Charles Scribner’s Sons. Reprinted by permission of Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group: excerpts from Tender Is The Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Copyright 1933, 1934 by Charles Scribner’s Sons. Copyright renewed © 1961, 1962 by Frances Scott Fitzgerald Lanahan; from ‘The Adjuster’, in All The Sad Young Men by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Copyright 1926 by Lanahan; from The Letters of F. Scott Fitzgerald, edited by Andrew Turnbull. Copyright © 1963 by Frances Scott Fitzgerald Lanahan. Copyright renewed © 1991; from The Great Gatsby (Authorized Text Edition) by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Copyright 1925 by Charles Scribner’s Sons. Copyright renewed 1953 by Lanahan. Copyright © 1991, 1992 by Eleanor Lanahan, Matthew J. Bruccoli, and Samuel J. Lanahan as Trustees under Agreement Dated July 3, 1975. Created by Frances Scott Fitzgerald Smith; from Introduction by Frances Scott Fitzgerald Lanahan to Letters To His Daughter, edited by Andrew Turnbull. Introduction Copyright © 1965 by Frances Scott Fitzgerald Lanahan. Copyright renewed © 1993 by Eleanor Lanahan, S. J. Lanahan, and Cecilia Ross; from The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald (New York: Scribner, 1922). Excerpts from F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Crack-Up, copyright © 1945 by New Directions Publishing Corp. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp. By permission of Harold Ober Associates Incorporated: Extracts from Dear Scott/Dearest Zelda. The Love Letters of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, edited by Jackson R. Bryer and Cathy W. Barks, St Martin’s Press, New York, to be published in England by Bloomsbury. Heretofore unpublished letters copyright © Eleanor Lanahan, Thomas P. Roche and Christopher T. Byrne, Trustees under Agreement dated July 3, 1975, by Frances Scott Fitzgerald Smith; extracts from Eleanor Lanahan, Scottie The Daughter Of … The Life of Frances Scott Fitzgerald Lanahan Smith. Copyright © 1995 by Eleanor Lanahan. Rights in text by F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth (excluding Canada) is reprinted by permission of David Higham Associates Limited. ‘The Hours’ from The Collected Poems of John Peak Bishop, edited by Allen Tate. Copyright © 1948 by Charles Scribner’s Sons; copyright renewed © 1976. Used with the permission of Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group. Extracts from The Best Times: An Informal Memoir by John Dos Passos, published by the New American Library, New York, 1966, reprinted by permission of Brandt and Hochman Literary Agents, Inc. ‘Zelda’ by Helen Dunmore, from Short Days, Long Nights, Bloodaxe Books, 1991, reprinted by permission. Extracts from an unpublished essay by Sara Haardt based on her 1928 interview with Zelda Fitzgerald (Haardt Collection, Julia Rogers Library, Goucher College, Baltimore) published by permission of the Enoch Pratt Free Library of Baltimore, in accordance with the terms of the will of H. L. Mencken. Excerpts reprinted with permission of Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group, from A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway. Copyright © 1964 by Mary Hemingway. Copyright renewed © 1992 by John H. Hemingway, Patrick Hemingway and Gregory Hemingway; extracts from A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway, published by Jonathan Cape, reprinted by permission of The Random House Group Ltd. Excerpts reprinted with permission of Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group, from Ernest Hemingway: Selected Letters, 1917–1961, edited by Carlos Baker. Copyright © 1981 The Ernest Hemingway Foundation, Inc.; reprinted with permission of Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group, and the Hemingway Foreign Rights Trust from Ernest Hemingway: Selected Letters, 1917–1961 edited by Carlos Baker. © The Hemingway Foreign Rights Trust. Excerpt reprinted with permission of Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group, from The Only Thing That Counts: The Ernest Hemingway-Maxwell Perkins Correspondence, edited by Matthew J. Bruccoli. Ernest Hemingway’s letters to Maxwell Perkins: Copyright © 1996 by The Ernest Hemingway Foundation; reprinted with permission of Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group, and the Hemingway Foreign Rights Trust from The Only Thing That Counts: The Ernest Hemingway-Maxwell Perkins Correspondence, edited by Matthew J. Bruccoli. Ernest Hemingway’s letters to Maxwell Perkins: © The Hemingway Foreign Rights Trust. Extracts from Sara Mayfield, Exiles from Paradise: Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald and The Constant Circle: H. L. Mencken and His Friends, and from unpublished documentation held in the Sara Mayfield Collection, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, reprinted by courtesy of Camella Mayfield, Literary Executor. Reprinted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC: excerpts from Letters on Literature and Politics 1912–1972 by Edmund Wilson, edited by Elena Wilson. Copyright ©1977 by Elena Wilson; excerpt from ‘Weekend at Ellerslie’ from The Shores of Light by Edmund Wilson. Copyright © 1952 by Edmund Wilson. Copyright renewed © 1980 by Helen Miranda Wilson; excerpts from ‘After the War’, ‘France, England, Italy’ and ‘New York’ from The Twenties by Edmund Wilson. Copyright © 1975 by Elena Wilson.
Every effort has been made to contact copyright-holders, but if any have been inadvertently overlooked the author would be glad to hear from them.
The following abbreviations have been used:
FSF Francis Scott Fitzgerald
ZSF Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald
EH Ernest Hemingway
MP Max Perkins
PUL Princeton University Library
1. Collections held in the Manuscripts Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library, are identified in the endnotes as follows:
Zelda Fitzgerald Papers: CO183
F. Scott Fitzgerald Papers: CO187
F. Scott Fitzgerald Additional Papers: CO188
John Biggs Collection of F. Scott Fitzgerald Estate Papers: CO628
Craig House Collection: CO745
Charles Scribner’s Sons Author Files: CO101
2. When the author read all Zelda Fitzgerald’s letters in the PUL archives only a few had been published (in Life in Letters and Zelda Fitzgerald: Collected Writings). When she wrote the biography the bulk of those letters were still unpublished. As this book goes to print some letters are being published in Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda. The Love Letters of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, which will alter their status.
3. The author took the decision to retain the idiosyncratic spelling of both Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald in passages quoted from their writings.
At Great Neck one Easter
and Zelda, who sat
neck high in catalogues like reading cards
her hair in curl for
wild stories, applauded.
A drink, two drinks and a kiss.
Scott and Ring both love her –
gold-headed, sky-high Miss
Alabama. (The lioness
with still eyes and no affectations
doesn’t come into this.)
Some visitors said she ought
to do more housework, get herself taught
Above all, find some silent occupation
rather than mess up Scott’s vocation.
In France her barriers were simplified.
Her husband developed a work ethic:
film actresses; puritan elegance;
tipped eyes spilling material
like fresh Americas. You see
said Scott they know about work, like me.
You can’t beat a writer for justifying adultery.
always wanted to be a dancer
she said, writhing
among the gentians that smelled of medicine.
A dancer in a sweat lather is not beautiful.
A dancer’s mind can get fixed.
Give me a wooden floor, a practice dress,
a sheet of mirrors and hours of labour
and lie me with my spine to the floor
She handed these back too
with her gold head and her senses.
She asks for visits. She makes herself hollow
with tears, dropped in the same cup.
Here at the edge of her sensations
there is no chance.
Evening falls on her Montgomery verandah.
No cars come by. Her only visitor
his voice, slender along the telephone wire.
Paradoxically, Zelda Fitzgerald embraced both definitions yet was imprisoned by neither. Zelda, who arrived with the twentieth century, had an impressive array of untamed talents. She was a powerful painter; an original writer; and a ballerina who began late but achieved substantial success.
However, it is Zelda’s character which has assumed symbolic status, her life the stuff of myth, her romance with Scott Fitzgerald which has enabled her spectacular rise and emblematic fall. As her creativity and brains were backed by beauty, rebelliousness and a flair for publicity, it is hardly surprising that in terms of her talents the legend makers sold her short.
Zelda must bear some responsibility. Her childhood escapades caused such intense gossip in Montgomery that myths about her wildness started early. Later she made it easy for mythmakers to prioritize her role as flamboyant flapper rather than hardworking artist. With her help, at least in the early years, mythmakers invented and reinvented Zelda Fitzgerald as American Dream Girl, Romantic Cultural Icon, Golden Girl of the Roaring Twenties and most often as a Southern Belle, relabelled the First American Flapper by her husband Scott Fitzgerald, the quintessential novelist of the Jazz Age, which he named.1 When as a bride Zelda jumped in the Washington Square fountain, danced on tables in public restaurants, performed cartwheels in a New York City hotel lobby, it was not surprising that the media gambolled with her exploits.
Zelda and Scott flourished as capricious, merciless self-historians writing and rewriting their exploits. They used their stormy partnership as a basis for fiction which subsequently became a form of private communication that allowed fiction to stand as a method of discourse about their marriage. That discourse was then rewoven into their legend.
Recently myth has likened Zelda to those other twentieth-century icons, Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana. With each she shares a defiance of convention, intense vulnerability, doomed beauty, unceasing struggle for a serious identity, short tragic life and quite impossible nature.
During a dazzling period of American culture, Zelda, as artistic creator and as object of Scott Fitzgerald’s literary creations, spoke for a generation of bright young women. Yet she was out of step with it. Her painting and writing, too, are out of step. Their oddness jolts the reader or viewer. The legend misses that out.
Her literature and art with their hallucinatory connections between ideas are unsettling: transgressive, like their creator. When I saw her vivid, unpredictable paintings they stirred my imagination, but gave rise to a strange anxiety.
I looked at a nursing mother with a red blanket, an agonized portrait which flies in the face of acceptable motherhood. The mother has half her head severed while the baby sucks at what looks like the mother’s entrails. Powerful but hardly comforting, it set me off on an untrodden trail to discover Zelda’s overlooked relationship to her daughter Scottie.
Zelda’s paintings and her writings, like Zelda herself, are enigmatic but it is not their labyrinthine quality alone which skews the legend.
The way Zelda’s gifts panned out provides a second motive. Our society awards higher status to artists engaged fulltime on a single creative pursuit than to artists engaged on multiple forms of art. Being gifted in three directions — painting, writing, ballet — smacks of dilettantism.2
That Zelda’s legend is unbalanced is also rooted in how our society rates literature and painting. Generally we credit art produced consistently and continuously, which provides us with a complete body of work by which to make judgements.
Zelda’s does neither.
Zelda’s writing is not continuous. She was most productive during two periods: 1929 to 1934, when intermittently hospitalized, and 1940 to 1948, after Scott’s death, until her own. Between those periods Zelda was often ill or prevented from writing. As her biographer I had to ensure these two problems were separated.
Zelda’s art is not a complete body of work, nor is much of it dated. It lacks the habitual artistic ‘progression’ or linear development by which one can sometimes date paintings. I have therefore, like several art critics, identified paintings by subject or theme.3 I have also managed to match up several paintings with life events or with ideas occupying Zelda’s imagination at a particular time.
Although her visual art is the most successfully refined of her three gifts, and although she produced paintings continuously from 1925 until the day before her death in 1948, many have been lost, burnt or otherwise destroyed. Fire and destruction remain two significant linked themes in Zelda’s life.
Though Zelda’s artistic legacy is substantial — more than 100 paintings — it still represents only part of her total production. This may be why Zelda’s two early biographers gave it only token consideration. I have given her invisibilized art considerable attention. I was fortunate in being able to see more than two-thirds of Zelda’s paintings in public and private collections, and was given slides of the rest by Eleanor Lanahan, Zelda’s artist granddaughter, and by various owners of Zelda’s work.
Today her painting and fiction are both attracting a new wave of critical attention. Her second novel, Caesar’s Things, unfinished at her death in 1948, is about to be published; and there will be several major exhibitions of her paintings in the USA, Paris and London.
When we turn to Zelda’s ballet career, the facts are incontrovertible but the legend deals with them selectively. Although Zelda began her apprenticeship in the Diaghilev tradition very late at twenty-seven, within a mere three years she was invited to perform a solo role with the Italian San Carlo Opera Ballet Company: an invitation which brought her the chance she had been awaiting but which for complex reasons she reluctantly declined.
Because Zelda’s first doctor, and Scott, perceived her dance career as the cause of her first breakdown, and because Scott and her doctors banned her from dancing, this was the biographical view adopted subsequently. Zelda’s ballet therefore has been consistently viewed as obsession rather than as artistic commitment. One of my aims has been to scrutinize these two polarized perspectives.
However, during Zelda’s life her ballet, like her writing and painting, was subsumed under the greater interest of her marriage. As Zelda’s biographer I have tried to balance the account.
Starting one’s own creative life as ‘the wife of’ a famous writer often presents problems of comparison at best, invisibility at worst, for the less powerful writer and partner. But Zelda’s case was more complicated. Unlike Antonia White and Jane Bowles, who also wrote out of their mental suffering, she never had writer’s block. Instead she fought the block on her writing imposed by a fellow writer. Her work is often seen as one of promise and the enemies of promise as those within. One enemy however was without. Scott, confusingly, tried to help her even as he stood in her way.
Being Fitzgerald’s wife offered Zelda artistic opportunities she might not so easily have acquired alone, but being Fitzgerald’s wife made it harder for his public to rate her talents in their own right.
I have scrutinized her marriage, which surprisingly soon was dominated by Scott’s increasing alcoholism and her own mental suffering, each of which nourished the other. This led them to a litany of loss. Zelda, no longer able to inhabit the identities which Scott had offered her as glamorous wife and flapper incarnate, grew first resentful, then uncertain of who she was. Her fractured ego meant her identity was constantly in flux. Though Scott admired her for her physical fearlessness, she began to betray great emotional anxiety. She feared her own sexual ambiguity and they both feared the possibility of his. She revealed the struggles within her marriage and the struggle to maintain her uncertain identity through her writing and her ballet, which Scott struggled to repress.
Zelda felt it would be healthier to leave the marriage. But devotion and dependence led her time and again to stay. Scott felt the same ambivalence. For years they battled through a labyrinth of love and loyalty, tearing resentment and extreme bitterness. Finding a way out seemed as impossible as finding a way to stay in. Despite Scott’s affairs and escalating alcoholism and despite Zelda’s illness, neither entirely gave up on the marriage. They kept hold of its reality, and when that faded they kept hold of the fictions they had woven about it.
In analysing the relationship they connived at, I had to analyse the very nature of marriage and the balance of power between the sexes central to any marriage, integral to this one. The Fitzgeralds’ challenges illuminated the times in which they lived. Though Zelda’s struggles were those of many women in the early twentieth century, trying to find an artistic identity in the face of pressure to remain in feminine domestic roles, Scott too was impeded by his era’s restrictions on his role as husband and male expert. In order to show alternatives open to the Fitzgeralds, I have given space to a comparison between their marriage and that of Zelda’s Montgomery friend, Sara Haardt, and Scott’s mentor, the critic H. L. Mencken.
The Menckens’ civilized, more equal marriage attracted less media attention because legends thrive on dissipation. Thus as alcohol soaked Scott and Zelda’s menage a new, not unfavourable myth granted Scott a weary dispensation for his drinking while ignoring possible effects on Zelda. Her sense of self floundered as life in rented houses and hotels degenerated into binges, bizarre behaviour, dissipation, drunkenness and no ground beneath their feet.4 Later, Zelda’s screaming red and yellow paintings would caricature in terrifying ways that lack of ground.5
Both Zelda and Scott began to use the word ‘ominous’ about their marriage. By September 1928 Scott had headed his Ledger entry with the word underlined three times in black. When Zelda later fictionalized those unsettling years in Caesar’s Things, in about 1938, the word ‘ominous’ occurs on almost every page.
I examined the way the legend recorded these tragic notes. I observed how the labels progressed from ‘eccentric’ to ‘mentally disordered’ to ‘schizophrenic’, finally to ‘the crazy wife of Scott Fitzgerald’.
Sadly, during Zelda’s lifetime, other arcane, gifted but fragmented women (including Janet Frame, Vivien Eliot, Sylvia Plath, Antonia White), who displayed similar esoteric nonconformist behaviour, were deemed more suitable for sojourns inside mental institutions than for life outside.6 It comes as no surprise to discover that Zelda the artist was also the holder of entry and exit passes to seven of the world’s most expensive mental asylums for the last eighteen years of her short life.
Those breakdowns, crudely labelled ‘madness’, form a great part of the Fitzgerald mythology; while the evidence of Zelda’s art forms only a small part of her legend.
What is extraordinary is that the years of Zelda’s greatest discipline as a writer, dancer and visual artist coincided exactly with those years when she was first hospitalized, then diagnosed as schizophrenic.
I explored in depth the way one hospital7 became, in 1932, the setting for one of the most contentious battles in literary history between an artistic husband and wife. From her hospital bed, Zelda completed her first novel Save Me The Waltz in a mere four weeks, drawing on some of the same autobiographical material which Scott was trying to plot into his novel-in-progress Tender Is The Night, which took him nine years to complete. Scott, incoherent with fury that anyone other than he should use their joint life experiences as literary fodder, first insisted the publishers cut large sections of Save Me The Waltz in 1932, then a year later during a three-way discussion with Zelda and her psychiatrist forbade Zelda to write any fiction which drew on shared autobiographical incidents.
This ban, which followed swiftly on Scott’s stringent prohibition on her ballet, meant Zelda’s rights to her own material and forms of self-expression were severely curtailed.
Following this Scott used Zelda’s speech, letters, diaries, personal feelings and episodes of mental illness in his own fiction, and sometimes with Zelda’s assent, sometimes without, encouraged her articles and stories to be published under joint names or his name alone.
Subsequently these undisputed facts became an issue over which supporters line up under two dramatic banners as diametrically opposed as the Plath and Hughes literary camps. Flags are waved, protests are shouted. There seems to be no middle ground.
From one perspective Zelda has been hailed by the Women’s Movement as a feminist heroine, oppressed by a relentlessly ambitious husband who plagiarized her writing and exploited her personal experiences for his literary gains.
The opposing perspective sees Zelda as a sick selfish tyrant, writing lively but derivative fiction, holding her loyal husband hostage financially, impeding and dragging down his magnificent literary progress through her trivial desire for autonomy.
Exponents of both sides have raised her up or cut her down in biographies, memoirs, academic dissertations, critical studies, articles and reviews. They have turned her into a cult figure in other writers’ novels, dramas, movies and stage plays.
I have tried to steer a steady course between these two polarized positions.
I have scrutinized the reasons why Scott felt he had the artistic right to silence Zelda’s voice. Scott and subsequent biographers have suggested that, because Scott was the ‘professional’ and Zelda the ‘amateur’, the interests of professionalism can be used to legitimate Scott’s actions. Zelda herself internalized the idea that those who are not professional cannot be equally talented.
Today we recognize that professionalism may have to do less with talent and more with financial rewards and status. Since the term ‘professional’ in Zelda’s time rested, as it does today, on the way artists could or could not define themselves by their work, I have examined how Zelda fought for that self-definition.
I was also curious about why one writer’s silencing of another writer’s voice should have been labelled by critics as ‘artistic rivalry’. Artistic rivalry implies a competition between equals, as opposed to ‘silencing’ which implies one artist has more power than the other, so it seemed worth exploring not only the definitions but also the effects of this ‘rivalry’ on the Fitzgeralds’ domestic partnership.
Living with a famous artist can make for a tough relationship. In the Fitzgeralds’ case Scott’s fame rested on his writing while Zelda’s ambition rested on her writing; thus they fought on the same ground. Zelda inevitably experienced feelings of admiration and frustration, rivalry and invisibility. Living with a man of publicly acknowledged talent who was necessarily self-focused engendered in Zelda a real desire to protect and support that man’s talent, but also provided little breathing space in which to nurture her own.
Although this aspect of their story parallels late twentieth-century gender roles, I have attempted consistently to see Scott and Zelda within their own period.
Previous writers have focused a spectacular white spotlight on this particular literary controversy.8 I aimed to view it within the context of the whole of Zelda’s art and life. I have concerned myself as much with the rest of her painting and writing as with the literary row which brought her prominently to public attention. There was no lack of material. I have been fortunate in having access to everything she wrote, published and unpublished, a literary legacy which includes two novels, a dozen short stories, a galaxy of sketches, essays and magazine articles, spiritual and artistic notebooks, a stage play, and autobiographical and fictional fragments in the Princeton University Library, where there are also scrapbooks, albums and a monumental archive of letters.
I trawled through hundreds of unpublished painful illustrated letters, many from Zelda to Scottie which show an absentee mother’s story not previously told in full. I was fortunate in being given Scottie’s own unpublished memoir about Zelda by Scottie’s daughter Cecilia Ross.
Zelda’s hospital letters, haunting for their traumatic honesty, are particularly startling less for Zelda’s awareness of what she sees as an unjust incarceration than for her pragmatic acceptance of hospital censorship. If she was ever to be released she was forced to write in an acceptable way. Untwining these two positions has been a hard task.
This Letters Archive allowed me to engage with Zelda’s relationship to her mother, Minnie (a more ambivalent one than the legend logged), and with her women friends, few of whom are mentioned in earlier biographies, especially Sara Murphy, Sara Mayfield and Xandra Kalman. By good fortune I was generously offered a whole file of largely unpublished letters between Zelda and the Kalmans.9 I was also given an unpublished manuscript of Sara Haardt’s which contained conversations and an interview with Zelda.
Though an important diary of Zelda’s and eight further stories have been lost, evidence of their themes and content has been helpful.
Fitzgerald biographies have given the impression that after the tragedy of Scott’s early death in 1940 absolutely nothing else happened to Zelda until her own tragic death in 1948. Plenty happened to her. I suggest she came into her own artistically during those eight years.
I have faced several problems. One problem was that a few of my older interviewees found it hard to distinguish between their memories and their readings of what has become an abundance of Fitzgerald material A second problem was the delicate issues which have surrounded biographies of Zelda Fitzgerald. For more than thirty years no full length life of Zelda Fitzgerald and no literary biography at all had appeared. After Nancy Milford’s controversial biography (1970) and Sara Mayfield’s memoir (1971), both of which disturbed the Fitzgerald family, there was a long literary silence. Scottie, Zelda’s daughter, was extremely distressed by what she saw as an unnecessary focus on Zelda’s mental condition and her sexuality in the earliest biography. Milford was ‘urged’ to remove many of those references before her biography was published.10 Despite Scottie’s dislike of Mayfield’s book, she generously gave that book also her permission. After Scottie’s death her children, though equally generous over permissions, nevertheless felt they should honour her views so retained certain biographical impediments by restricting a considerable amount of medical material in the Princeton archives. I was fortunately able to see all of that material.
During those thirty-one years the Estate gave permission to one academic study (Hartnett 1991), one study of the Fitzgeralds’ marriage (Kendall Taylor 2001) and several papers on Zelda’s writings. In 1996 Zelda’s granddaughter Eleanor Lanahan edited an illustrated book which focused on Zelda’s art. What was still missing was a full length literary biography which saw Zelda as an artist as well as in her other roles.
I therefore approached the Trust initially with a request centred on Zelda’s overlooked art. After long discussions, Eleanor Lanahan and other family members recognized that in order to grapple with the social and psychological as well as artistic forces that shaped Zelda’s work, I would need maximum information and help. My path was cleared, my task unimpeded. I was given full access to all papers available, to family members and to people still alive who had known Zelda, including some of her Southern Belle girlfriends.
Zelda’s medical condition plays a key part in this biography. I was fortunate in being given access to most medical records now available and was allowed to read those hitherto under seal.11 I also spoke twice to Zelda’s last psychiatrist,12 who held a different view of her diagnoses from that recorded in the legend.
I looked at how the label ‘schizophrenia’ was applied to women. Evidence suggests that Zelda’s failure to conform to a traditional feminine role has, to some extent, been buried within a diagnosis of mental disorder. Zelda was a courageous woman who struggled to maintain her sanity in the face of the horrific treatments she was forced to undergo. It became obvious that she suffered as much from the treatment as from the illness itself. My particular challenge was to try to separate illness from treatment.
Zelda’s hospital label in the Thirties was schizophrenia; by the Fifties her last psychiatrist suggested (too late) that it might have been manic depression. Though the treatments for these mental diagnoses in periods separated by two decades were somewhat (though curiously, not entirely) different, that difference had less to do with diagnoses than with methods of control considered appropriate during each era. If letters and journals from other women patients in the Fifties/Sixties/Seventies are compared with Zelda’s of the Thirties/Forties, we see that emotions engendered in all absentee mothers and artists inside closed institutions were remarkably similar. Fear, frustration, resentment and despair attached themselves to incarceration, imprisonment, enclosure. Bewilderment, guilt and powerlessness clung to the role of absentee motherhood. The evidence from Zelda’s writings and comments from people close to her show such feelings led to incompetence over practical matters and swings from extreme harshness to wild indulgence towards her daughter Scottie.
Reading Zelda’s notebook, which concentrated on making patterns from chaos, seeing her need for ‘aspiration’ (this word occurs on almost every page of one of Zelda’s notebooks) as if by writing it she could realize it, I understood her feelings of being out of control which any prisoner or asylum resident would recognize.
Another challenge was to balance Scott’s lifelong loyalty to a wife diagnosed as suffering clinical ‘madness’ with his constant refusal to take her out of hospital because he feared the disruption it would cause to his work.
The biographer’s role is first to enter imaginatively into her subject’s world, then to recognize that writer and subject are separate people, and that her task is to provide one version of possibly significant events and possibly significant motives which have impelled the subject’s life and influenced their art.
In threading the narrative of her life through her painting and writing, aided by the memories of those who knew her, I have tried to give Zelda a life of her own, separate from Scott Fitzgerald’s, but to acknowledge where the intertwining and complicity have been purposefully tangled by the two participants.
In Paris and New York she was spoken of as aloof, yet in her home town I heard repeatedly how warm, accessible and loyal she was, how her character was ‘shot through to the bone with a strong vein of kindness’. Certainly during this research I have been most impressed by Zelda’s moral bravery. Throughout her troubled, sometimes tormented, life she exhibited qualities of endurance and courage with what her particular enemy and Scott’s friend, Ernest Hemingway, would have called grace under pressure if he could have brought himself to praise her at all.
Zelda shared with all four of Hemingway’s wives, though not with his heroines, the qualities of resilience and relinquishment. But her graciousness and stoicism, unlike theirs, were those of a Southern lady. Though Zelda was sometimes more irritatingly confrontational than was appropriate in the South, where difficult issues are delicately approached by stealth, she was never once accused of vulgarity.
Everyone I met in the Deep South (where I learnt more about Zelda than anywhere else) told me that ‘ultimately Zelda was a Southern lady’. Yet in the Deep South, in her childhood, Zelda behaved as no ladies dared. It was one of the contradictions in her character she would never lose.
To understand Zelda and her work it is imperative to look closely at her roots. So it is in that place, the Deep South, at that time, the early 1900s, doing what ladies did not dare to do, that we first meet Zelda.
1 Though Scott took the credit, H. L. Mencken coined the term flapper fifteen years before This Side of Paradise. He said it originated in England and described adolescent girls who flapped awkwardly while walking. British shops sold flapper dresses with long straight lines to hide such gracelessness.
2 Ironically, Zelda’s daughter Scottie most cogently expressed this view: ‘in defining genius as one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration, Edison surely meant in one direction not in three. It was my mother’s misfortune to be born with the ability to write, to dance and to paint, and then never to have acquired the discipline to make her talent work for, rather than against, her.’ Scottie Fitzgerald Smith, Zelda Fitzgerald: The Collected Writings, ed. Matthew J. Bruccoli, Abacus, Little, Brown, London, 1993, p. vi. (Prefatory comments based on Scottie’s Introduction to the exhibition catalogue for the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts 1974 exhibition of Zelda Fitzgerald’s paintings.)
3 I have followed the example of several contemporary art critics including Jane S. Livingston and Carolyn Shafer who have divided Zelda’s art by theme or subject, i.e. landscapes, cityscapes, paper dolls, figurative paintings, Biblical allegories, flowers, fairy tales etc. Some themes do fall into specific time periods. The romantic hazy watercolour cityscapes of Paris and New York were painted in the 1940s after Scott’s death to commemorate their visits together. Some nursery tales were painted during Scottie’s childhood; a further set were painted in Zelda’s last eight years, some for her grandchild Thomas Addison Lanahan.
4 Eleanor Lanahan, Zelda’s artist granddaughter, pointed out to me in our first conversation that all Zelda’s paintings illustrate the idea of ‘no ground beneath our feet’. Scott himself used a similar phrase earlier when he wrote in his September 1922 Ledger that life though comfortable was ‘dangerous and deteriorating. No ground under our feet’. Scott’s Ledger was the 14?” by 95?” business ledger in which he methodically recorded his professional and personal activities. He maintained this record until the end of 1936. It divides into five sections: 1. ‘Record of Published Fiction’ (sixteen columns giving the publication history of each work); 2. ‘Money Earned by Writing since Leaving Army’; 3. ‘Published Miscelani for which I was Paid’ (including movies); 4. ‘Zelda’s Earnings’: 5. ‘Outline Chart of My Life’ (a month by month chronology beginning with the day of his birth, partly in the third person). He probably began the Ledger late in 1919 or early 1920, though he may have started it in 1922 when he wrote to his agent that he was ‘getting up a record of all my work’.
5 At the time Rebecca West noticed there was something ‘frightening’ about Zelda, ‘not that one was frightened from one’s own point of view, only from hers’. West to Nancy Milford, 10 Aug. 1963, Milford, Zelda, Harper & Row, New York, 1970, p. 99.
6 Elaine Showalter in The Female Malady: Women, Madness and English Culture, 1830–1980 (Penguin, 1985) shows explicitly and at length how this worked during the period of Zelda’s various hospital sojourns.
7 Henry Phipps Psychiatric Clinic of Johns Hopkins University Hospital, Baltimore.
8 I saw Zelda’s problem (relating to the contentious issues of the rightful distribution of credits and who-owns-whose autobiographical material) as similar to the one Radclyffe Hall faced when she wrote the controversial lesbian novel The Well of Loneliness, which was taken to trial and banned as obscene. (Ironically, in America Scott Fitzgerald was among the impressive list of writers who came to the book’s defence.) Hall’s sensational martyrdom to a cause meant that a spotlight focused on one significant area of her life and rendered the rest unimportant by comparison.
9 Xandra Kalman gave this file to St Paul historical researcher Lloyd Hackl who generously made it available to me.
10 Ten years later Nancy Milford wrote in an essay about her experience with the biography: ‘before publication, when I was done writing, I had sent the Fitzgeralds’ daughter my manuscript and waited. She could not bear to read it, she said. She threatened suicide. I didn’t know what to do, for I could not have done without what she had given me. She turned upon me as if I had stolen her past.’ The Writer on Her Work, ed. Janet Sternburg, W. W. Norton & Co., New York, London, 1980, p. 35.
11 This batch at PUL included some records which could not be photocopied, but I was able to read everything and take accurate notes. Zelda Fitzgerald Papers, CO183: Box 6 III, Miscellaneous Notes and related material; Folder 18; F. Scott Fitzgerald Papers, CO187: Box 39, Folder 45; Box 40, Folder 4; Box 43; Box 49, Folders 2A, 6A; Box 51, Folders 7A, 10A, unmarked folder; Box 53 II, Folders 3A, 14A, unmarked folder; Box 54, Folder 10A; Craig House Medical Records, CO745: Box 1, Folders 1, 2, 3, 6A.
12 Dr Irving Pine.