Zelda Fitzgerald Her Voice in Paradise
by Sally Cline

PART III Foreign Voices May 1924–December 1926


‘Paris was where the twentieth century was,’ Gertrude Stein assured the world.1 In May 1924 the Fitzgeralds arrived to take their place there with seventeen pieces of luggage and $7,000. The luggage would last longer. Zelda reported to Maxwell Perkins that their boat journey was ‘a weird trip haunted by such tunes as “Horsey, keep your tail up …” played by an aboriginal English orchestra’.2

In Paris Lawton Campbell spotted Zelda racing down the Champs-Elysees like a streak of sunshine while Scott strolled sedately holding a silver-topped cane. ‘They were so smartly dressed and striking … They were beautiful.’ Zelda, who matched the pure spring sky in a bright blue frock she had designed, ran towards him: ‘This, Lawton, is my Jeanne d’Arc dress.’3

Renewing old friendships was important to the Fitzgeralds. They lunched in the Bois with John and Margaret Bishop, last seen two years earlier. Scott wrote to Wilson that ‘John seemed to us a beaten man — with his tiny frail mustache — but perhaps only morally.’ As Scott was self-confessedly ‘drunk and voluble’ his judgements may not have been entirely reliable.4

Scott planned to finish The Great Gatsby while Zelda aimed to lead a more orderly life. But within days disorder set in. At the Hotel des Deux Mondes they mistakenly bathed Scottie in the bidet, noticed too late in a restaurant that Scottie had drunk gin fizz instead of lemonade, and finally decided wisdom lay in nannies. They chose Lillian Maddock, English, upright, able to render the Fitzgeralds’ chaos into military precision. They also hired a cook and a maid and began their onslaught on the $7,000.5

Though Zelda proudly wrote to Max that in Paris they were a ‘complete success — found a good nurse and resisted the varied temptations that beset our path,’6 the new nanny’s dominant nature, like Anna Shirley’s, distressed her. If Zelda intervened Maddock, whom Zelda called the ‘old buzzard’, complained to Scott. Probably that year, Zelda drafted her bitter story ‘Nanny, A British Nurse’, set in Paris and the Riviera. Two themes from Zelda’s painful experience stand out: first, the malevolence of servants who insinuate themselves into, then take over households; second, the notion that compromise lies at the heart of a ‘good’ American marriage. Zelda also drafted a play version, on which is a note explaining that all is well until Nanny ‘manoeuvres’ people into ‘disturbed matrimony’. With her perfect nose for scandal, Nanny knows that in a troubled household she will have control. She tells another nurse how important it is not to allow their masters any responsibility. Sally, the victimized mother, says sardonically about her baby: ‘Bless its little heart. Is its cruel, cruel, parent going to take away its Nanny? No darling, it shall never have to live with only its family to bring it up.’

Zelda’s description of her fictional nurse ‘doing whatever it is that nurses do which gives them such an official air’7 wittily evokes her line about her fictional Scott in Caesar’s Things: ‘Jacob went on doing whatever it was that Jacob did’8 — a reminder that nannies, like husbands, have a more important role to play than mere wives and mothers.

That Zelda was still smarting several years later over the behaviour of Nanny Maddock and the nurses who preceded her is clear from her account in Save Me The Waltz, where David patronizingly suggests Nanny should help Alabama with her household accounts.

In Paris during their nine-day stay Zelda met Esther Murphy’s brother Gerald and his wife Sara, with whom she and Scott formed a lifelong friendship.9 The Murphys at that time were living in a gracious old house in St-Cloud. When Esther introduced these two outwardly dissimilar couples, she could not have foreseen the extraordinary attraction they would hold for each other.

The Murphys found the Fitzgeralds’ all-American freshness irresistible while the Fitzgeralds were intrigued by this stylish unconventional pair who balanced artistic adventures with mature family life. The Murphys’ son Baoth was a sturdy blond five-year-old, little Patrick was three, and demure Honoria at six swiftly settled into her role as Scottie’s older best friend. It was both a friendship of equals and a tie between children and parents. Gerald, twelve years older than Zelda, and Sara, seventeen years older, shone with good parenthood while Zelda and Scott, despite having a two-and-a-half-year-old, still sparkled with adolescent rebelliousness. Zelda, who later fictionalized Gerald as Corning in Caesar’s Things, precisely captured Gerald’s fatherly attitude: ‘When he was being charming Corning floated around in a hushed blooming of impersonal parental solicitude.’10

Sara Murphy was one of three cultured, well-travelled Wiborg sisters, unconventional daughters of a rich Cincinnati ink manufacturer. Sara, Hoytie and Olga sang three-part harmony at recitals, were considered a sensation in Europe, were presented by Lady Diana Cooper at the Court of St James in 1914. ‘That year the Wiborg girls were the rage of London,’ wrote Lady Diana.11 The following year Sara, who owned twenty-seven substantial acres in East Hampton, Long Island, and had a fortune of $200,000, married Yale graduate Gerald Murphy, wealthy son of the owner of the Mark Cross leather-goods company.12 Gerald, who had already known Sara for eleven years, said she remained so original that ‘I have no idea what she will do, say or propose.’13

Sara, like Gerald restricted by staid family pressures, disapproved of American materialism, so when he refused to enter his father’s firm they decided to move to Paris. With independent means and three infants, they arrived in 1921 to study painting with Natalia Goncharova and Russian futurist Mikhail Larionov and to make an art of living.

They arrived in Paris at the point when the twentieth-century artistic revolution, emerging before the First World War, was exploding into new forms. Cubist force had given way to Dada’s crazy inspirations and erotic Surrealism. Intellectuals had fallen for le jazz hot, popular movies and the circus. Diverse arts were excitingly linked to one another. The Murphys, who had taken as a motto the Spanish adage ‘Living Well Is The Best Revenge’, became a nexus for the Parisian cultural community. Scott said that to be included in their world was a remarkable experience, for the Murphys, who focused on their children as well as on the widest possible culture, stood apart from the bohemianism of Montparnasse Americans whose expatriate life had a determinedly self-conscious intellectual fever. They found anything ‘Jamesian’ stuffy, preferring to seek out experimental artists like Miro and Juan Gris. Their European intimates included the most prominent Modernist figures: artist Fernand Leger, the burly butcher’s son from Normandy; poet Jean Cocteau; Georges Braque, Cubist, and Igor Stravinsky, creator of Le Sacre du Printemps for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, whom the Murphys had met through their scenic designs for Diaghilev’s company. Picasso was a good friend, with a particular affection for Sara whom he painted nude with her famous rope of pearls, which Scott later hung around his heroine Nicole Diver’s neck. Scott hung the personality of Nicole on the twin characters of Sara and Zelda.

Sara described Paris as a great fair, where everybody was so young and ‘you loved your friends and wanted to see them every day’.14 Among the friends they did see regularly were three writers already in the Fitzgeralds’ circle, Dorothy Parker, Alexander Woollcott and Robert Benchley, as well as poet Archibald MacLeish and soprano Ada MacLeish, his wife, who had arrived in Paris in 1923.15 Through the Murphys the Fitzgeralds met Broadway play wright Philip Barry, who had just made a splash with his comedy You and I, his elegant wife Ellen, whose father had given them a villa on the Riviera, the young journalist-writer Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley, and songwriter Cole Porter, formerly at Yale with Gerald, with whom he now had an intense emotional bond. Gertrude Stein reputedly called this circle the ‘lost generation’16 but once Scott got to know them he more accurately saw them as a generation found and embraced by the remarkable Murphys, whose money and encouragement enabled artists to transform twentieth-century culture.

Gerald, generous to every person he called his friend, was matched by Sara, whose serene beauty, described by MacLeish as ‘like a bowl of Renoir flowers’,17 was rooted in deep concern for people.

The Fitzgeralds’ friends Donald Ogden Stewart, the humorist, and Gilbert Seldes, critic and editor of The Dial who had come to Paris to write a book,18 had both met the Murphys in 1923. Stewart, a Yale graduate like Barry, Porter and Murphy, unlike them felt an outsider, so was dazzled by the Murphys’ glow. ‘Once upon a time there was a prince and princess,’ he wrote, ‘… they were both rich; he was handsome; she was beautiful; they had three golden children. They loved each other … they had the gift of making life enchantingly pleasurable for … their friends.’19 Understandably Stewart was keen that the Fitzgeralds and Dos Passos should meet them.20

Dos Passos was initially as wary of them as he had been of Zelda and Scott. Typically, they were giving a party for Diaghilev’s entire cast. Though Sara ‘was obviously a darling’ Dos Passos’s first view of Gerald, ‘Irish as they come’, was that of a dandified dresser, cold, brisk and preoccupied.21 ‘There was a sort of film over him I couldn’t penetrate.’ Dos Passos, who had been hanging around the Left Bank with a rough press crowd led by Hemingway22 after serving in France as a wartime ambulance driver, now peered nervously at the Murphys’ lifestyle through his thick spectacles, then slunk off, prickly as a porcupine. But he was won over by Sara’s knack for arranging food, furniture and people’s lives for the better.23

His second impression of Gerald, on a long walk with him and the painter Fernand Leger, was positive. Gerald, who would be Zelda’s first artistic influence, had studied with Leger and had already embarked on huge Cubist paintings of machinery. Dos Passos said Gerald’s comments changed the hackneyed pastel-tinted Tuileries and the Seine’s bateaux mouches into a freshly invented world of winches, anchor flukes and startling red towboat funnels.24

When Zelda met Gerald, she immediately shared Dos Passos’s view that Gerald’s mind had an ‘uncommitted freshness’.25 Though she believed ‘people were always their best selves with the Murphys’26 she gently mocked Gerald’s emotional need for his friends to behave well and love each other, seeing it as a storybook imperative: ‘Corning [Gerald] said “I want all these people to love one another because I love all of them” … and the guests obediently loved him.’27 Zelda was particularly fascinated by the life of originality and beauty the Murphys had created while Scott, sometimes baffled by it, found his admiration for Gerald tinged with envy. Gerald saw their relationship with the Fitzgeralds as mystical and symbiotic. ‘We four communicate by our presence rather than by any means,’ he said later. ‘Currents race between us regardless: Scott will uncover for me values in Sara, just as Sara has known them in Zelda through her affection for Scott.’28

The Murphys had a special fondness for Zelda. They were first struck by her eyes. Gerald said of Zelda’s illegitimate beauty: ‘It was all in her eyes. They were strange eyes, brooding but not sad, severe, almost masculine in their directness.’29 Sara added: ‘Zelda could be spooky. She seemed sometimes to be lying in ambush waiting for you with those Indian eyes of hers.’30 They respected Zelda’s ‘own personal style … her individuality, her flair … her taste was never what one would speak of as a la mode — it was better, it was her own … I don’t think we could have taken Scott alone.’31 Scott’s drinking behaviour together with his schoolboy antics put them off and minimized their belief in him as a serious writer, an accolade they reserved for Hemingway.

Sara, Zelda’s most affectionate supporter, recognized her as a similar ‘cat who walked alone’ and understood Zelda’s central contradiction: that she was both intensely private and publicly outrageous. But even to Sara, highly sensitive to nuance, Zelda remained a mystery. In a letter to Scott, Sara suggested that Zelda probably had ‘terribly dangerous secret thoughts’.32

Zelda understood Gerald’s quicksilver disposition, sometimes unabashedly friendly, other times withdrawing into a black Celtic mood, for it mirrored her own.

Whereas Zelda’s friendship with Xandra Kalman had been based on shared sports and her reliance on Xandra for practical help, her friendship with Sara was rooted in a mutual interest in painting, ballet and literature. Sara was one of the first people to take seriously Zelda’s creative potential.

Through the Murphys Zelda became conversant with the experimental Parisian art scene. In 1944 she wrote to Scottie recalling her exposure to the theories of the art world’s most provocative figures, who included Miro, Gris, Matisse, Leon Bakst and Picasso:

We knew Picasso (a dear friend of Gerald Murphy) … Leger — whom we met at the Murphys in Austria — and other modern geniuses whom we met at Gertrude Stein’s left-bank salon. They were interesting and sympathetic and indeed I have never known a painter whose intuitive responsivity was not acute and immediate & I liked them very much. We also knew Brancusi & have visited his studio in the rue Monsieur with great wonderment and awe.33

This constant exposure constituted Zelda’s earliest if most informal training. Without Gerald’s artistic influence, it is less likely that she would have taken her first formal painting lessons a few months later.34

That spring the Riviera was on everybody’s mind. Cole Porter drew Gerald’s attention to the lushness of the Riviera off-season, so the Murphys planned to return that summer to Antibes, a few kilometres away from Ellen and Philip Barry’s new house along the Corniche in Cannes. They knew the beaches would please Zelda while its remote tranquillity would attract Scott, so the two families decided to meet there. Gerald planned to clear away the seaweed on the small beach, Plage de la Garoupe, that ‘bright tan prayer rug’ which would become one of the most famous beaches in American literature.35 During the summer the Murphys bought a plot on which stood a tumbledown villa with a spectacular garden. They used 350,000 francs, a quarter of Sara’s annual income, and hired two Ohio architects to remodel the house into what would become the Villa America, immortalized in Fitzgerald literature.36

At the end of May the Fitzgeralds left for the Riviera, pausing at Grimms Park Hotel, Hyeres. From there Zelda wrote to Perkins that Scott was showing ‘the most romantic proclivities’ and they hoped to find a villa next week. Hyeres had ‘a forced atmosphere of picturesqueness and beauty for English sketchers’. Zelda’s own artistic preference was for the vivid, even vulgar: ‘I always suspect any place that isn’t blatant — Venice, to me, is perfect.’37

They moved on to the Ruhl in Nice, where Zelda wrote that during dinner on the terrace stars fell in their plates; then the Hotel de Paris, Monte Carlo, ‘like a palace in a detective story’;38 then lingered at the Continental in St Raphael to be near the Murphys at the Hotel du Cap at Cap d’Antibes, awaiting renovations on Villa America. Finally the Fitzgeralds stopped whirling and settled in Villa Marie in Valescure, 2.5 kilometres above St Raphael.

High above the sun-drenched beach the villa stood like a Moorish fortress with terraced gardens of palm, lemon and olive trees, protected from the sun by groves of eucalyptus and parasol pines. Zelda recalled: ‘Keeps crumbled on the grey hillsides and sowed the dust of their battlements beneath the olives and cactus. Ancient moats slept bound in tangled honeysuckle; fragile poppies bled the causeways.’39

Unlike New York where most of their friends were single, on the Riviera most were married. Among their frequent companions were Philip and Ellen Barry, Dick and Alice Lee Myers, and later that summer, Gilbert and Amanda Seldes. The Myers’ daughter Fanny became the third in Scottie and Honoria’s triumvirate. Alice, ex-nurse and Chicago graduate, had married Dick in 1921. Humorous, bear-like Dick had studied piano with Nadia Boulanger and composed songs while working for American Express in Paris. Zelda had an easy intimacy with the Myers who felt parental towards Scottie. One time Scott flirtatiously gave Alice an enlarged edition of Marie Stopes’ Contraception wittily inscribed: ‘I felt you should have this. So that Dick should never have an awful surprise — he is too nice a fellow. Yours in Sin, but, I hope, sincere sin. F. Scott Fitzgerald.’40

The Fitzgeralds, lacking French, lived like tourists who neither took part in the community nor visited churches or museums; but during the summer Zelda bought a French dictionary and a copy of Raymond Radiguet’s Le Bal du Comte d’Orgel to learn the language by painstakingly reading the novel. During the long hours when Scott was rewriting Gatsby, Zelda read Henry James, and Van Vechten’s latest book, The Tattooed Countess. When her eyes bothered her again she reverted to swimming, becoming as deeply tanned as in her Southern girlhood. She also became restless. The servants managed the villa (while padding the grocery bills), so she had no domestic chores.

Scottie remembers Nanny Maddock, who instilled in her discipline and manners. She was made to observe bedtimes and eat up everything on her plate.41 Zelda’s relationship with Maddock, as with Anna Shirley, made her feel increasingly incompetent at motherhood. When Scott locked himself away to write Zelda felt in need of company.

Stationed nearby at Frejus air base were a group of young Frenchmen with whom the Fitzgeralds drank and danced in the beach casino. Several make it into Scott’s Ledger and Zelda’s novels. Aviators Paulette, Montague, ‘fat and greasy Bellandeau’ get passing mentions. Rene Silvy (Zelda’s ‘artistic son of a Provencal avocat’, Scott’s Silve42) and Bobbe (Zelda’s fictionalized Bobbie, Scott’s Bobby Croirier43) are described with luscious camp undertones by Zelda as ‘very nice boys’ who ‘protruded insistently from their white beach clothes and talked in undertones of Arthur Rimbaud … [Rene’s] eyes were … consumed by the cold fire of a Tintoretto boy.’44

One man makes it into the Fitzgeralds’ lives. Edouard Jozan, ‘the flying officer who looked like a Greek god’,45 becomes the catalyst for a major crisis in the Fitzgeralds’ marriage.

Zelda, flattered when, like the aviators of Taylor Field, he swoops low over their villa as a tribute to her, casually lazes on the beach with him. There are occasional cocktails and dinners. Jozan found Scott and Zelda ‘brimming over with life. Rich and free, they brought into our little provincial circle brilliance, imagination and familiarity with a Parisian and international world to which we had no access.’46 At first Scott admired Jozan, who as an athletic assured aviator had all the qualities he most envied.

Zelda glamorizes Jozan in Save Me The Waltz as Jacques Chevre-Feuille (honeysuckle), but curiously in Caesar’s Things, though he features as Jacques, occasionally she misnames him as Jacob, her Scott figure. Is there some indissoluble link between the two men? Certainly Alabama in Save Me The Waltz sees Jacques as a coin (the lieutenant with ‘the head of the gold of a Christmas coin’) and David as its reverse side. She tells David that Jacques looks ‘like you — except he is full of sun, whereas you are a moon person’. Jacques ‘moved his sparse body with the tempestuous spontaneity of a leader’.47

According to Sara Mayfield Jozan was a born leader coming from a tradition of bravery, honour and nobility. 48 Born at Nimes, a year and two days older than Zelda, the son of a French army officer, a graduate from Brest’s naval college, when he met Zelda he was about to embark on a distinguished career.

Jozan saw Scott as a proud domineering man, sometimes tender, sometimes cruel, who appeared more concerned with commercial than artistic success, despite talent and imagination.49 Scott’s focus on social status and the power and burden of money clashed with Jozan’s ideal of human bravery and knowledge unsullied by commercial profit.50

About Zelda he had few reservations. He found her vivacious, witty, lovely, someone who said and did unexpected things. But he insisted he never saw signs of craziness. Those who had ‘wild ideas’ about her were themselves ‘raving mad’.51 He saw her ‘shining beauty’, a woman who ‘overflowed with activity, radiant with desire to take from life every chance her charm, youth and intelligence provided so abundantly’. Jozan thought Zelda liked simple pleasures, ‘the relaxed life on beaches … trips by car, informal dinners’.52 The pair began to enjoy those pleasures away from the crowd.

Immersed in writing, Scott did not at first observe his wife and Jozan53 drifting closer. Others did. The Murphys, in Valescure from Antibes for the day, noticed the romance, but did not think it serious. Sara felt from her talks with Zelda that she resented having ‘to chase around after Scott’. Jozan became ‘someone for her to talk to … everyone knew about it but Scott’. Gerald said: ‘I don’t know how far it really went, I suspect it wasn’t much, but it did upset Scott a good deal. I wonder whether it wasn’t partly his fault?’54

Then suddenly Jozan and Zelda were no longer seen together. Their friends were not told why. When Zelda returned to the beach she swam alone.55 According to Fitzgerald’s Ledger there was ‘The Big Crisis — 13th of July’, less than six weeks since they had met the French group. Those are the only facts we have. But so much speculation and fiction are woven into the legend that it is difficult to tell how serious their relationship became.

That Zelda was increasingly attracted to him is clear in both her novels. In Save Me The Waltz, when Jacques and Alabama dance he ‘smelled of sand and sun; she felt him naked beneath the starched linen. She didn’t think of David. She hoped he hadn’t seen; she didn’t care.’ Jacques invites her to his apartment. Alabama hesitates. David sulkily watches them swim together ‘wet and smooth as two cats’.56 He insists that Alabama stops seeing Jacques. Alabama asks a friend to tell Jacques she cannot meet him. She doesn’t see him again. An aviator’s wife gives her a picture from Jacques and a letter in French. Unable to read it, ‘she tore it in a hundred little pieces … Though it broke her heart, she tore the picture … What was the use of keeping it? Jacques Chevre-Feuille had gone to China. There wasn’t a way to hold on to the summer … Whatever it was that she wanted from Jacques, Jacques took it with him … You took what you wanted from life, if you could get it, and you did without the rest.’57

In Caesar’s Things, sixteen years later, she goes further fictionally. Janno kisses Jacques, then one evening ‘they kissed again — a long time before his friends … Janno loved him so that she never questioned his good faith.’ Another night after dancing with him ‘she kissed Jacques on the neck … the kiss lasted a long time … she did not mean to do this’. The young officer ‘treated her preciously and she knew that no matter what it was it would be tragedy and death: ruin is a relative matter’. Janno recognizes ‘she should never have kissed him. First she should never have kissed Jacques; then she shouldn’t have kissed her husband; then after the kissing had become spiritual vivisection and half-masochistic there should not have been any more.’58

Whatever happened between his wife and Jozan, after recording the ‘Big Crisis’ in July Scott makes light of it. He runs to ‘a sad trip to Monte Carlo’ but otherwise there are merely routine notes that Zelda was ‘swimming every day. Getting brown’; that they went to Antibes, there was ‘good work on novel’, followed by ‘Zelda and I close together’. The only unpleasant things listed are ‘rows with Miss Maddox [sic]’.59

In August 1924 when their friend Gilbert Seldes and his bride Amanda arrived on their honeymoon they noticed no marital discord, observing only that Scott was sad over the death of his hero Conrad. Then they noticed Zelda had a frightening new habit. When Scott drove them all to the beach, at exactly the point where the road narrowed and curved dangerously on a hairpin bend, Zelda turned to Scott and asked for a cigarette. Scott took one hand off the steering wheel, rummaged in his pocket, found one, straightened out the Renault and just kept it from plunging over the roadside. Zelda, filled with repressed anger, may have been cruelly testing Scott’s courage.

The Murphys witnessed other dangerous exploits. The Fitzgeralds would leave parties and go to Eden Roc at the tip of Cap d’Antibes, where Zelda would strip off her evening frock and dive from 35-foot rocks. Sara told Zelda it was dangerous. Zelda fixed her friend with what Gerald called her ‘unflinching gaze like an Indian’s’60 and said, ‘But Say-ra, didn’t you know? We don’t believe in conservation.’61 On those evenings Sara persuaded Zelda and Scott not to drive back to Valescure, but to stay over at the Hotel du Cap.

Whatever had taken place between Jozan and the Fitzgeralds now diminished. Scott wrote ‘trouble clearing away’ in September, and in October with gratitude, ‘Last sight of Josanne’. Yet the maze of fantasy around this episode has resulted in several wild versions.

According to one, years later Scott told a relative that Zelda had asked him for a divorce in July, saying she loved Jozan. Scott furiously insisted on a face-to-face showdown with Jozan. When Jozan refused, Scott locked Zelda in the villa. Jozan, faced with this version of events, insisted that no such confrontation took place, nor did he know of any such punishment.62

There is no mention of Zelda’s imprisonment in her Save Me The Waltz, but we cannot draw a firm inference from its apparent omission since Scott insisted on heavy revisions and deletions of autobiographical material which might have cast him in a bad light. However, in 1930 Zelda told her doctor she was locked in her room. It is of course possible that by the 1930s Zelda had come to believe Scott’s invention.

Certainly, in Caesar’s Things, she validates Scott’s version: Janno ‘told her husband that she loved the French officer and her husband locked her up in the villa’. Jacob tells her not to leave the premises and Janno replies wearily, ‘a locked door is not difficult of comprehension’.63

When Scott later described the incident to his mistress Sheilah Graham, he said he had challenged Jozan to a duel. Each had fired a shot but remained uninjured. Graham felt that the story sounded like material from a book, which indeed it was. Scott rewrote the episode for an illicit love affair and duel in Tender Is The Night.64

Jozan himself went even further than denying the divorce confrontation: he emphatically denied having an affair with Zelda. He told Sara Mayfield firmly that Zelda had merely flirted with him to make Scott jealous, and that Zelda’s account of their romance in Save Me The Waltz was an almost exact report of what happened in St Raphael — a mere summer flirtation, romantic, decorous and slightly comic.65

He also told Nancy Milford that he was at no time involved in any scenes between the Fitzgeralds. He was unaware that Zelda was being forced to make choices, if indeed she was. He left the Riviera without knowing what had passed between Zelda and Scott. He never saw either of them again. ‘They both had a need of drama, they made it up and perhaps they were the victims of their own unsettled and a little unhealthy imagination.’66

This seems the most accurate analysis. The forgotten tale of the fallen Montgomery aviator who had died for love of Zelda was revived once more with a Riviera setting. It provided both Fitzgeralds with fictional material, heightening their anecdotal performances.

Hemingway recalls Scott telling several versions. The first version Hemingway recalled was a genuinely moving story of Zelda falling in love with a French aviator. The later versions, according to Hemingway, were less sad and seemed to be created as useful fictional material. Hemingway’s first wife Hadley, a more unbiased source with reference to Zelda, recalls their duo-performance: ‘It was one of their acts. I remember Zelda’s beautiful face becoming very, very solemn, and she would say how he had loved her and how hopeless it had been and then how he had committed suicide. Scott would stand next to her looking very pale and distressed and sharing every minute of it.’67

Sara Mayfield described this alleged suicide as ‘an absurd invention’. The tragic hero stood before her in the flesh, explaining that far from dying, he had held a long distinguished career in the French Navy; served in Indochina in his youth; commanded a flotilla at Dunkirk after the outbreak of World War Two; subsequently had been captured and interned by the Germans. On release he had returned to service, in 1952 becoming Vice Admiral of the French fleet in command of France’s Far East naval forces. Far from collapsing into suicidal depression due to his failed romance he had been awarded the Croix de Guerre, the Grand Croix du Merite de l’Ordre de Malte, the Grand Croix de la Legion d’Honneur, and had retired in 1960 as full Admiral to live splendidly in Paris, where he read the Fitzgeralds’ fabrications about his lost youth.68

The reason why Scott fictionalized and heightened the romance to include these fabrications was that he was then able to share it, thus once more take over an important piece of Zelda’s life. That she allowed him to do so illustrates her intense emotional dependency on him. As she says later: ‘Then Janno grew indomitably loyal and devoted to Jacob … Jacob somehow was the center of the whole business.’69

Though Scott recovered from the blow to his ego and Zelda from the blow to her heart by using the incident as material, neither of them ever recovered completely. The Murphys recalled, albeit forty years later, an alleged suicide attempt of Zelda’s. Gerald said that around three or four o’clock one morning Scott banged at their door having driven miles. He was trembling, green and carrying a candle. He said Zelda had taken an overdose. They returned with him and Sara walked Zelda backwards and forwards to keep her awake.70

If this suicide attempt did happen that year it would have taken place at the point Scott wrote ‘Zelda and I close together’, and therefore would challenge the idea of reconciliation and reinterpret how deeply Zelda was affected. But whether it did take place in 1924 is open to question. Mayfield debunked as ‘equally incredible’ the idea that Scott had driven the 52 kilometres from St Raphael before dawn to get help from the Murphys.71 Amanda Vaill, the Murphys’ biographer, tries to make sense of it by suggesting that the incident might have occurred on a night when the Fitzgeralds were actually staying at the hotel.72 However, set against all such speculations is the fact that Scott himself does not mention Zelda taking an overdose that year in his Ledger. This biographer believes the Murphys may have misremembered the date, for it is the following August (1925) that Scott’s Ledger entry says ‘Zelda drugged’. Honoria Murphy in an interview with this author said it was not impossible that her father Gerald had got the year wrong because so many Fitzgerald anecdotes had been overlaid with newer versions and memories.73

It is quite possible that Scott was less affected by the Jozan incident than has been supposed. In his article ‘How to Live on Practically Nothing a Year’ written for the Saturday Evening Post during the crisis,74 he writes amusingly about his family relaxing on the Riviera and concludes with a description of the visit of Rene and Bobbe to the villa. Scott dwells affectionately on their romantic white uniforms growing dimmer ‘as the more the liquid dark comes down, until they … will seem to take an essential and indivisible part in the beauty of this proud gay land’. Although Scott doesn’t mention Jozan, it is certainly not the description of an emotionally wrecked betrayed husband. Or if it is, then Scott’s supremely professional style could be read as unnervingly cool.75

Few of Scott’s biographers however seem willing to accept that the ‘big affair’ was nothing more than a summer flirtation. One, adamantly opposed to any such idea, assumes Zelda guilty of ‘infidelity’ with its ‘agonizing aftermath’. He states that ‘Jozan, using his French charm … invited Zelda to his apartment and seduced her.’ He goes further and fantasizes that Jozan ‘found Zelda a delightful lover’.76 Bold and dramatic words but founded on sand. There is no concrete evidence that Zelda slept with Jozan. What we do know is that for the morbidly jealous Scott, who still had mixed-up Irish Catholic monogamous feelings for Zelda, the fact that she was entertaining a desire to commit adultery would be almost as much a sin as actually committing adultery. This is borne out in Zelda’s Caesar’s Things where Janno quotes from the Bible: ‘“He who looketh on a woman to lust after hath committed adultery with her in his heart already” — in his heart already — in his heart already —.’ Janno says: ‘Adultery was adultery and it would have been impossible for her to love two men at once, to give herself to simultaneous intimacies.’77

More significant is the fact that for the first time in their marriage Zelda seriously took away her attention from Scott. That he more often than not was focused on his writing and sometimes on other women was not the point. He expected her to focus on him and his work. To remove her attention could be more important than to remove her body. It was enough of a blow to an egotistic writer to make him write: ‘That September 1924, I knew something had happened that could never be repaired.’78

In a later letter Zelda wrote to Scott: ‘Then there was Josen and you were justifiably angry.’79 She too misspelled her supposed lover’s name. The fact that neither Scott nor Zelda ever managed to spell the name of the alleged adulterer was probably due to their poor literacy skills, but it would be a neat touch if it was also a psychological indication of their marital faithfulness.

The crisis behind them, they placidly renewed work on Scott’s novel, telling Max: ‘Zelda + I are contemplating a careful revision after a week’s complete rest.’80 On 25 October Scott told Ober that he was posting The Great Gatsby for serialization. Two days later he sent a copy to Max, writing: ‘I think that at last I’ve done something really my own.’ He wanted to call the novel Trimalchio in West Egg or Gold-hatted Gatsby or The High-bouncing Lover but Zelda plumped for The Great Gatsby and Scott took her advice.

Zelda, who had been reading Henry James’s Roderick Hudson, decided they should winter in Rome followed by a trip to Capri. During 1924 she recognized that acting as Scott’s editorial assistant was insufficient to satisfy her. Her Southern upbringing had led her initially towards the lure of an alternative lover; however, when this failed, the models of hardworking artists with whom they now associated finally struck a chord. By 1925 she would be published again, though not in her own name, and she would take her first painting lessons and her first ballet lessons.81


1 Gertrude Stein in Calvin Tomkins, Living Well Is the Best Revenge: Two Americans in Paris 1921–1933, Andre Deutsch, 1972, p. 25. Also quoted in Amanda Vaill, Everybody was So Young: Gerald and Sara Murphy. A Lost Generation Love Story, Little, Brown, 1998, p. 134.

2 ZSF to Perkins, May 1924, CO101, Box 53, Folder Zelda Fitzgerald, 1921–1944, PUL.

3 Lawton Campbell to Milford, 19 Sep. 1965, quoted in Milford, Zelda, p. 104.

4 FSF to Wilson, postmarked 7 Oct. 1924, Yale University.

5 Scott also owed Scribner’s $700 because they had purchased a set of the Encyclopaedia Britannica for their trip. In 1923 Scott reported in his article ‘How To Live On $36000 a Year’ that they spent $296 dollars a month on servants. That year at Great Neck he earned $28,759.78.

6 ZSF to MP, May 1924, Scribner’s Author Files, CO101, Box 53, Folder Zelda Fitzgerald, 1921–1944, PUL.

7 ZSF, ‘Nanny, A British Nurse’, unpublished, CO183, Box 3, Folder 15, PUL.

8 ZSF, Caesar, ch. V, CO183, Box 2A, Folder 6, PUL.

9 The Murphys together with the Fitzgeralds themselves became models for Scott’s protagonists in Tender Is The Night.

10 ZSF, Caesar, ch. VI, CO183, Box 2A, Folder 7, PUL.

11 Quoted in Tomkins, Living Well, p. 10.

12 It was worth $2 million when Gerald inherited it in 1931.

13 Tomkins, Living Well, p. 11.

14 Sara Murphy to Calvin Tomkins, ‘Living Well Is The Best Revenge’, New Yorker, 28 July 1962, p. 50.

15 The MacLeishes summed up the Murphys’ success: ‘English, French, American, everybody — met them and came away saying that these people really are masters in the art of living.’ Tomkins, Living Well, pp. 6, 7.

16 Gertrude Stein (1874–1946) used the phrase ‘you are all a lost generation’ in talking about some of the young who served in the First World War. She borrowed the phrase in translation from a French garage mechanic whom she heard address it disparagingly to an incompetent apprentice. Ernest Hemingway subsequently took it as his epigraph to The Sun Also Rises (1926).

17 Archibald MacLeish, Riders On The Earth, Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1978, p. 79.

18 It would become The Seven Lively Arts.

19 Donald Ogden Stewart, By a Stroke of Luck! An Autobiography, Paddington Press/ Two Continents, New York, 1975, p. 117.

20 Dos Passos confessed himself ‘eternally grateful’. Dos Passos, Best Times, p. 140.

21 Ibid., p. 146.

22 Hemingway was then correspondent for the Toronto Star.

23 Tomkins, Living Well, p. 6.

24 Dos Passos, Best Times, pp. 145, 146.

25 Ibid., p. 146.

26 Tomkins, Living Well, p. 6.

27 ZSF, Caesar, ch. VI, CO183, Box 2A, Folder 7, PUL.

28 Gerald Murphy to FSF and ZSF, 19 Sep. 1925, CO187, Box 51, Folder 13, PUL.

29 Gerald Murphy also said: ‘Her beauty was not legitimate at all.’ Murphy to Milford, interview, 26 Apr. 1963, Milford, Zelda, p. 124.

30 Sara Murphy to Milford, interview, 2 Mar. 1964, ibid.

31 Gerald Murphy to Milford, 2 Mar. 1964, Milford, Zelda, p. 107.

32 Sara Murphy to FSF, 20 Aug. 1934 or 1935, CO187, Box 51, Folder 15, PUL.

33 ZSF to Scottie Fitzgerald Lanahan, c. 1944, CO183, Box 4, PUL.

34 Zelda’s first painting lessons took place in Capri in early 1925.

35 FSF, Tender, p. 11.

36 In Tender Is The Night. The architects were Hale Walker and Harold Heller.

37 ZSF to MP, May 1924, CO101, Box 53, Folder Zelda Fitzgerald, 1921–1944, PUL.

38 ZSF, Show Mr and Mrs F. to Number —’, Collected Writings, p. 421.

39 ZSF, Waltz, Collected Writings, pp. 71–2.

40 Fanny Myers Brennan to the author, New York, 1998. She gave the author a copy of the inscription. The Stopes book was published in 1928.

41 Scottie Fitzgerald Lanahan to her daughter Eleanor Lanahan; Lanahan to the author, Vermont, 1998.

42 ZSF, Waltz, p. 82; FSF, Ledger, June 1924.

43 FSF, Ledger, June 1924.

44 ZSF, Waltz, pp. 81–2.

45 ZSF, Caesar, ch. VII, CO183, Box 2A, Folder 8, PUL.

46 Edouard Jozan to Milford, interview 11 Jan. 1967, Milford, Zelda, p. 108.

47 ZSF, Waltz, pp. 80, 81, 82.

48 Mayfield said that almost half a century after Zelda’s flirtation with him Jozan was still ‘unusually charming and handsome’. Mayfield, Exiles, p. 96.

49 Ibid.

50 Jozan to Milford, 11 Jan. 1967, Milford, Zelda, p. 109.

51 Mayfield, Exiles, pp. 96–7.

52 Jozan to Milford, 11 Jan. 1967, Milford, Zelda, p. 109.

53 Scott constantly misspells the name as Josanne. FSF, Ledger, June 1924.

54 Gerald and Sara Murphy to Milford, 2 Mar. 1964, Milford, Zelda, p. 110.

55 Jozan’s view, many years later, was ‘one day the Fitzgeralds left and their friends scattered, each to his own destiny’. Jozan to Milford, 11 Jan. 1967, Milford, Zelda, p. 109.

56 ZSF, Waltz, pp. 86, 89.

57 Ibid., p. 94.

58 ZSF, Caesar, ch. VII, CO183, Box 2A, Folder 8, PUL.

59 FSF, Ledger, July 1924.

60 Gerald Murphy, quoted in Tomkins, Living Well, p. 102.

61 Tomkins, Living Well, p. 42.

62 Jozan to Milford, 11 Jan. 1967, Milford, Zelda, p. 112.

63 ZSF, Caesar, ch. VII, CO183, Box 2A, Folder 8, PUL.

64 Sheilah Graham, The Real F. Scott Fitzgerald, Grosset & Dunlap, New York, 1976, p. 61.

65 Mayfield, Exiles, pp. 96–7.

66 Jozan to Milford, 11 Jan. 1967, Milford, Zelda, p. 112.

67 Hadley Hemingway (Mrs Paul Scott Mowrer) to Nancy Milford, 25 July 1964, Milford, Zelda, p. 114.

68 Mayfield, Exiles, pp. 96–7.

69 Janno also says: ‘Love is a funny thing: it says so in the advertisements, in the popular songs, on the radio and in the moving-pictures. Though it seldom says what to do about it. It always shows the havocs wrought.’ ZSF, Caesar, ch. VII, CO183, Box 2A, Folder 8, PUL.

70 Calvin Tomkins to Milford, 4 Jan. 1964, Milford, Zelda, p. 111.

71 Mayfield, Exiles, p. 97.

72 Vaill follows a suggestion by Calvin Tomkins. Vaill, So Young, p. 147.

73 Honoria Murphy Donnelly to the author, New York, 1998.

74 The article appeared 20 Sep. 1924.

75 I am indebted to the perceptive James R. Mellow for this insight.

76 Meyers, Scott Fitzgerald, pp. 116, 117.

77 ZSF, Caesar, ch. VII, CO183, Box 2A, Folder 8, PUL.

78 FSF, Notebooks no. 839.

79 ZSF to FSF, late summer/early fall 1930, Life in Letters, p. 191.

80 FSF to MP, 27 Aug. 1924, Life in Letters, p. 79.

81 An apt piece of awareness occurs in Save Me The Waltz (p. 79): ‘David worked on his frescoes; Alabama was much alone. “What’ll we do, David”, she asked, “with ourselves?” David said she couldn’t always be a child and have things provided for her to do.’


Italy, during winter 1924 and spring 1925, proved damaging for Zelda’s health but surprisingly beneficial for her awakening creative spirit. In November their first hotel, Rome’s Quirinal, was rated fetid by Zelda: ‘The sitting rooms are hermetically sealed and palms conceal the way to open the windows. Middle-aged English doze in the stale air.’ Rome itself was a city of ‘jonquils and beggars’.1

Her letter to Max Perkins acidly suggested that Roman ruins were better in France.2 Her next note thanked him for sending Galsworthy’s The White Monkey, then described Rome’s comic-opera streets ‘jammed with men in sky-blue cloaks with faces like dentists and under-nourished priests and students. I do think, since the Church largely rests on a theatrical basis, that they should cast their parts better.’3 Her antipathy to Rome intensified as she fell ill. Abortions frequently impair the ability to conceive and this appears to have happened to Zelda. In late 1924 she had an operation to help her conceive. It infected her stomach and ovaries and damaged her reproductive organs. As she later sadly recalled: ‘Dr Gros said there was no use trying to save my ovaries. I was always sick and having picqures [injections].’4 After this operation Zelda was plagued with painful attacks of colitis throughout 1925. More important, there seemed little hope of more children.

There were other tensions. She and Scott had not resolved their difficulties following the Jozan conflict. Scott acknowledged in his November Ledger there was still ‘ill feeling with Zelda’, exacerbated by his nervous state following months of work on Gatsby. Zelda knew her advice would be expected at the proof stage. Though stimulated by being part of Scott’s literary progress, she needed an independent public achievement separate from Scott — to recover the dynamic she had lost since leaving Alabama. This desire had acted as an undercurrent to the private Jozan romance. Now she felt more confident.

Zelda’s ‘confidence’ was a complex issue. In Montgomery she did exactly what she wanted and was applauded for brains, beauty, physical prowess. She wrote her own lines and audiences loved them. In New York, Minnesota, Paris and on the Riviera, Scott wrote the script, she acted it. She played the arrogant flapper of his fiction, the famous author’s proud wife. She still radiated assurance but Scott exuded authority.

If she was to achieve parity it must come from an area that deeply interested her. Honoria Murphy and Sara Mayfield always said Zelda had a lifelong passion for painting,5 and Zelda’s time in France with the Murphys, watching international artists design scenery for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, mixing with Picasso, Braque and Leger, had increased her appreciation of some of the finest art forms then available. She knew Gerald had leapt from dilettante artist to professional painter. She knew Sara, who like herself had leisure and a nanny, had taken painting lessons from the Russian emigree Natalia Goncharova, and Goncharova’s strong shapes and flamboyant colours appealed to Zelda. Honoria Murphy believed her parents had a strong influence on Zelda’s decision to formalize her interest in art.

The Fitzgeralds moved to the less fashionable Hotel des Princes near Piazza di Spagna where, according to Zelda’s article on hotel life, they lived on Bel Paese cheese and Corvo wine and suffered damp sheets.6 For these privileges they paid $525 a month for full board for three, including wine and service. The $7,000 the Fitzgeralds had brought to France had gone before they moved to Rome, so Scott telegraphed Perkins for a $750 advance, making his debt to Scribner’s $5,000.

Financial imperatives meant Scott speedily wrote more short stories while Zelda trawled the city. ‘It was exciting being lost between centuries in the Roman dusk and taking your sense of direction from the Coliseum.’7

Before the Gatsby proofs arrived, Perkins wrote on 20 November praising the novel but suggesting Gatsby’s character was ‘somewhat vague’.8 Scott acknowledged on 1 December that ‘Zelda also thought I was a little out of key’.9 On 20 December Scott admitted to Max that Gatsby was vague because he himself hadn’t known what Gatsby looked like or was engaged in. Zelda, he said, had been instrumental in putting this right. ‘After having had Zelda draw pictures until her fingers ache I know Gatsby better than I know my own child.’10

The subsequent rewriting exhausted Scott, so to calm him Zelda read aloud from Will James’s novel Cowboys North and South. ‘Zelda’s been reading me the cowboy book aloud to spare my mind + I love it — tho I think he learned the American language from Ring rather than from his own ear.’11 Ring Lardner’s racy idioms were one of the characteristics which had endeared him to Zelda.

Despite Scott’s reluctance to re-embark on ‘short stories for money (I now get $2000.00 a story but I hate worse than hell to do them)’12 he wrote the bulk of three new ones. ‘Love in the Night’, published in the Saturday Evening Post in March 1925, employed an exotic Riviera setting, a forerunner for the backdrop to Tender Is The Night, ‘Not in the Guidebook’ and ‘The Adjuster’, also stories of marital discord, reflected the aftermath of the Jozan incident.13

In ‘Not in the Guidebook’ the young, spoilt, moneyed wife, modelled on Zelda, has her inheritance stolen by her husband who deserts her in France. Charles Hemple, the hero of ‘The Adjuster,’ has a nervous breakdown attempting to please Louella, his spoilt discontented wife. Confronted with her invalided husband, Louella is given instructions by a mysterious Dr Moon which read like a lecture from Scott to Zelda. ‘We make an agreement with children that they can sit in the audience without helping to make the play,’ he said, ‘but if they still sit in the audience after they’re grown, somebody’s got to work double time for them so that they can enjoy the light and glitter of the world.’14 As Zelda read all Scott’s fiction she would have absorbed the message.

While Zelda was still suffering severe abdominal pains, Scott caught influenza and his drinking escalated. One evening, exploring the nightlife with Zelda, he became embroiled in a drunken row with some cab drivers who demanded an extortionate 100 lire to take them home. Scott struck out and knocked down a plain-clothes police officer who intervened. His version, colourfully rewritten for Tender Is The Night, was that two carabinieri beat him up as they hustled him off to jail. Zelda, aided by $100 and the US Consulate, freed him the next day. She was accompanied by journalist Howard Coxe, a Princeton graduate who had become attentive towards her. Scott, slow to recover from illness and from his humiliation, resented Coxe’s attentions towards Zelda.

Zelda had met Coxe when an American movie crew, filming Ben Hur in Rome, had invited the Fitzgeralds and several journalists to join the movie’s social life. Scott’s professional interest in Hollywood scriptwriting was aroused, as was his interest in the film’s young star, Carmel Myers, daughter of a San Francisco rabbi. Scott openly flirted with Carmel, whose film career had started in 1916 as the protegee of D. W. Griffith and who subsequently starred as a vamp with Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks and John Barrymore. Scott saw her immediately as ‘the most exquisite thing I have met yet … as nice as she is beautiful’, as he wrote about her later. Perhaps in retaliation, Zelda allowed Coxe his inconsequential but gallant gestures. At the movie company’s Christmas Ball Zelda, feeling ill again, asked Coxe to take her home, but made her indifference clear. This rejection might account for Coxe’s extraordinary gaffe in front of Scott in a bar. Scott, about to return to their hotel with a Christmas present for Scottie, heard Coxe boast to the assembled drinkers: ‘I could sleep with Zelda any time I wanted to.’ Still recovering from the Jozan incident, Scott was enraged. When Coxe told Wilson about it later, Wilson wrote reflectively: ‘Afterward [Coxe] couldn’t imagine what on earth had made him [say that], felt terribly about it … Actually — my own comment — Zelda was not so loose nor Howard so dangerous as this implied. He was envious of Scott … the drinks had brought this to the surface.’15

Scott’s December 1924 Ledger reported before the movie party ‘depression’, after the movie party a ‘row in cafe’, an ‘Xmas row’ and a ‘reconciliation’ followed by a period on the water wagon in order to be sober for revising the Gatsby proofs.

This Christmas, always a significant celebration for them, they had a glittering tree in their hotel room hung with silver bells.16 But they expected too much from Christmas, tried too hard, drank too much, destroyed their festivities.

In January 1925 Scott as well as Zelda was sick but despite his influenza he managed the final revisions to Gatsby which would be published in April. He had already converted a discarded portion of Gatsby’s opening into ‘Absolution’, a story which dealt sensitively with the sensuous experiences of an imaginative boy, Rudolph Miller, who lies in the confessional to Father Schwartz, an ageing priest, who then faces his own sexual temptations.17

‘Absolution’ had been published the previous June by Mencken and Nathan in their newly founded American Mercury. Sara Haardt, who had accompanied Mencken to the launch party after her recovery from pleurisy and bronchitis,18 was suddenly taken seriously ill with tuberculosis. While Zelda battled with ovarian attacks, Sara was forced to give up her doctorate and spend most of 1924 isolated in Baltimore’s Maple Heights Sanitarium. Her illness served to increase Mencken’s devotion and when Peyton Mathis, one of the Gold Dust Twins, returned enthusiastically to wooing Sara, Mencken competitively stepped up his courtship. Romantic feelings had not stopped Mencken earlier from rejecting Sara’s story, ‘Miss Rebecca’, for The Smart Set on the ‘dubious ground’ that it dealt with old maids. Editors, he said, were tired of old maids and their moonings. However one prestigious female editor, Emily Clark, immediately accepted it for The Reviewer.19 Mencken and other male critics at that time had a specific analytical approach to good fiction which favoured writers like Scott and penalized writers like Sara and Zelda. To meet standards of Northern male literary gurus, fiction had to be simultaneously a psalm and a criticism of life. Zelda and Sara with their shared Southern background wrote fiction that more often probed Southern passions and resentments through description and surface tracings; that revealed convoluted emotional relationships through appearances rather than through analysis.

During summer 1925 both Zelda and Sara had work published. In June, Zelda’s ‘Our Own Movie Queen’ (written in November 1923) appeared in the Chicago Sunday Tribune. In September, Mencken did publish Sara’s ‘Alabama’ and did accept her story ‘Mendelian Dominant’ for the American Mercury, both written whilst she was very ill in Montgomery. Yet again Sara’s work appeared under her own name. Yet again Zelda’s appeared under her husband’s name.

During 1924, nineteen-year-old Sara Mayfield married the other Gold Dust Twin, John Sellers. Zelda’s attitude towards Sellers, curiously in view of his abusive behaviour, had a fierce push-and-pull intensity. She never entirely lost interest in Sellers. When she met young Sara in Paris a few years later her first question was: ‘What’s going on at home? Tell me about John Sellers.’ Sara explained that in 1924 she hadn’t known that Sellers, like Scott, drank heavily. ‘I married him — in the time of my innocence … and divorced him when I came of age.’20 In 1924 Sara’s innocence shielded her from the problem of Sellers’ drinking while Zelda, no longer innocent, daily faced Scott’s alcoholism.

Scott’s drinking and Zelda’s fragile health caused winter in the Holy City to turn sour. In January 1925 they took excursions to Tivoli, Frascati and Naples, then in February, with Zelda still sick,21 they decided to flee to sunny Capri. They took a suite in the Tiberio Palace high on a hill overlooking the sea. The sun shone, their hopes were high, but frequent rows spoilt much of their two months’ stay. Scott wrote to Bishop:

Zelda and I sometimes indulge in terrible four-day rows that always start with a drinking party but we’re still enormously in love and about the only truly happily married couple I know … The cheerfulest things in my life are first Zelda and second the hope that my book has something extraordinary about it. I want to be extravagantly admired again.22

After five weeks in bed with her abdominal infection, Zelda recovered and began daily climbs up to the ‘scalloped … high white hotel’ through ‘devious dark alleys that house[d] the island’s Rembrandt butcher shops and bakeries’.23 Her solitary walks were broken by Scott’s Aunt Annabel, who arrived in Capri to spend time with them.24

Scott finally met his former literary idol Compton Mackenzie, whose influence on his work according to Wilson ‘can’t be over-estimated’ and whose influence on Zelda’s style, also according to Wilson, was considerable.25 Scott told Bishop that the author of the much-admired Sinister Street was merely polite, handsome and pleasantly monotonous. Scott felt Mackenzie had been wrecked by the war in the way Wells had been. Yet Mackenzie appeared not to be aware his work had degenerated.

Mackenzie introduced the Fitzgeralds to Norman Douglas, E. F. Benson, Somerset Maugham and his friend John Ellingham Brooks, all prominent among Capri’s thriving colony of literary homosexuals.26 Scott, not having known of the circle’s existence, felt his habitual curiosity and escalating repulsion towards the men.27 This place is full of fairies,’ he complained to Max Perkins.28 Scott’s tedious tallying of ‘fairies’ and his increasing voyeuristic interest in their sexual habits is at odds with the fact that he was often outrageously camp in his own letters to Bunny Wilson.29 The previous year Scott had written to Bunny: ‘I long to go with a young man … for a paid amorous weekend to the coast … Deep calling to deep.’30 Nor was this a new habit, for when Wilson was serving in France during World War One, Scott had sent him some glossy photos of himself labelled: ‘Give one to some poor motherless Poilu fairy who has no dream.’31 Scott’s contradictory feelings about homosexuality would soon intrude on his relationship with Zelda.

It was on Capri that Zelda first met forty-four-year-old Romaine Brooks, the wealthy, talented painter, who had just finished her affair with pianist Renata Borgatti. Romaine and American novelist Natalie Barney, her lifelong friend and often lover, were at the centre of the prominent artistic intellectual elite who became Zelda’s friends. The group, who wrote and painted on Capri, also met regularly in Paris at Barney’s rue Jacob salon.

Amidst Capri’s breathtaking scenery, while Scott drank, Zelda drew. Infused by the creative stimuli of other artists, in February 1925 she took her first formal painting lessons. In March Scott notes in his Ledger ‘Zelda’s lessons’. In April he records ‘Zelda painting, me drinking.’ After five weeks she had learnt colour theory.32 It is likely that before she left Paris Gerald Murphy, who acted as Zelda’s informal painting mentor, suggested she begin instruction, although it is not known how many lessons she took or with whom. The art critic Carolyn Shafer thought it possible that Zelda had more than one tutor and that Romaine Brooks might have suggested a second instructor. Shafer also thought Dos Passos and Ogden Stewart, both painters themselves, might have helped Zelda to make a formal start on her painting.33 Evidence relating to the obsessive feverish quality with which she worked at any art makes it almost certain that she painted daily.34

None of Zelda’s Capri paintings are known to survive but several oils on canvas provide substantial hints of the work inspired by Capri and the Riviera. Shafer suggests Capri’s tropical vegetation, dramatic vistas and colourful characters could have produced images similar to Zelda’s undated vivid blue and orange Mediterranean Midi.35 This painting depicts a typical Murphy picnic on a stretch of tan sand beneath a startling blue sky marked by wispy white clouds. In the top right corner a vivid orange beach canopy juts out. In the bottom left corner a still life of fresh fruit and wine goblets sits on a white blanket under a massive tree which stretches up the left side of the canvas. The giant trunk has the muscularity which from early on Zelda used for her figures’ knotted legs and arms. For her still life, canopy and tree Zelda adopts the Parisian Cubist technique of fracturing then reassembling forms and surfaces from different angles so that even her modest Mediterranean beach scene jolts and surprises the viewer.36

An undue emphasis has been placed on the influence on Zelda’s art of the Parisian Modernists she knew personally, mainly because she did know them personally.37 In fact, the more she painted the fewer links there are between their work and hers, but initially she would have picked up two distinct styles from Picasso, who in Paris in the Twenties was still creating multiple perspectives that challenged the idea of coherent space. One style affected the way Zelda ordered pictorial space; the other style helped her to shape figures which occupied that space. Zelda also adapted the lustrous energy and colours which Picasso and his artist colleague Mikhail Larionov used for the sets and costumes Picasso designed for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, in which his first wife Olga was a ‘deuxieme ballerina’.38

On Capri Zelda probably began her first formal flower paintings which became one of two recurrent themes, the other being dance figures. Sara Murphy recalled Zelda’s passion for flowers after the sojourn in Capri. ‘She used to wander for hours through our garden by herself — touching or picking a flower here and there — once she wore a huge pink peony as a hat.’39 Scottie, recalling Zelda’s attraction to nasturtiums which Zelda constantly painted in Italy and on the Riviera, told a friend later: ‘I can still see the nasturtiums on the [lunch] table.’40

Though Zelda painted several floral compositions under Italy’s hot sun, her consistent and striking influence is the Deep South. They show the twin hallmarks of many Southern artists’ primal sensuous pictures: fiery Southern light and exotic flowers that are passionately groomed and coddled in Southern neighbourhood gardens.41

The other notable element in Zelda’s depiction of Italian, French and Deep Southern blossoms is that she painted them as a woman familiar with her subject. Minnie, a lifelong gardener, had taught Zelda the horticultural skills that grounded the hectic symbolism of her flower paintings.

Although Zelda continued formal art lessons in Philadelphia when she returned to the US, there is no evidence of instruction in the proper techniques for preparing canvases. Eddie Pattillo points out that as so many of her oil paintings have required extensive conservation it seems unlikely she was trained in glazes and varnishes.42 Shafer’s view is: ‘Certainly she liked thick paint but I think her painting was guided more by her emotions than by any concern for conservation.’43 — Further confirmation of Zelda’s line to Sara Murphy that she and Scott took terrible risks because they didn’t believe in conservation.44

While Zelda painted, Scott neurotically drank his way through the short time left before Gatsby’s publication on 10 April. Despite Perkins’s earlier praise, Scott fermented with nerves. He felt the novel might fail on two grounds. Firstly critics might dislike it because it dealt with the rich and contained no peasants borrowed from Tess. Secondly women readers might dislike it because it contained no important woman characters. Although Daisy Fay Buchanan is never as important as the male heroes she does bear interesting resemblances to Zelda, on whom, together with Ginevra King, she is based.45 Daisy’s two betrayals of Gatsby were based on Zelda’s broken engagement to Scott and her romance with Jozan. The confrontation scene at the Plaza between Gatsby, Daisy and Tom has strong echoes of Zelda, Scott and Jozan. Gatsby tries to force Daisy to deny the past, to tell her husband she never loved him, but Daisy, perhaps like Zelda after the Jozan episode, says ‘the sensible thing’: ‘“Oh, you want too much! … I love you now — isn’t that enough? I can’t help what’s past.” She began to sob helplessly. “I did love him once — but I loved you too.”’46 Gatsby is incredulous, desperate to repeat their first moments when Daisy loved only him.47

Several of Zelda’s Montgomery friends who had upset Scott through perceived disloyalty or infidelity provided names for characters in Gatsby. Jordan Baker, Daisy’s golf champion friend, was possibly based on one of Zelda’s girlfriends, Jordan Prince, who had provoked Scott’s jealousy by inviting Zelda to accompany her on a midterm date.48 Dan Cody, Gatsby’s drunken patron, is linked to an early ‘infidelity’ of Zelda’s. Mayfield suggests Scott irritably lifted the name from Dan Cody, son of a wealthy banker, one of Zelda’s Montgomery beaux. Scott dedicated the novel, with its ironic connections and undertones, ‘Once Again to Zelda’.

While Zelda and Scott were touring Europe in April 1925, in Washington Scott’s sister Annabel married Lieutenant Clifton A. Sprague of the US Navy. Scott missed seeing his sister, whose bad points as a girl he had enumerated as ‘Pale complexion’, ‘Teeth only fair’ and ‘Only fair figure’,49 blossom into a slim rosy-faced woman wearing a powder-blue chiffon gown with a matching picture hat, carrying an arm-bouquet of Killarney roses. Scott admired Clifton who later, as Admiral Sprague, became a hero of the Battle of Leyte Gulf in World War Two, but felt no rapport with his brother-in-law and saw less of Annabel after their marriage.

In late April 1925 the Fitzgeralds left Capri. They sailed on the SS Garfield from Naples to Marseilles, where Scott received a cable from Perkins which announced that reviews for Gatsby were superb but sales were uncertain. The Fitzgeralds had put their Renault on board ship. The top had been damaged and Zelda, who preferred open-top cars, insisted it was removed. Zelda was not well enough to make a long car journey so when it broke down in Lyons they abandoned it and caught the train to Paris. By 1 May they had leased for eight months a gloomy furnished apartment on the fifth floor at 14 rue de Tilsitt on the Right Bank where Fitzgerald, equally gloomily, awaited reviews. They spent as much time as possible out of the apartment visiting Cole Porter, the Murphys and the Bishops, through whom they met the poet Allen Tate and his Southern novelist wife Caroline Gordon. Zelda marvelled at how those two married writers had established an equal supportive relationship.50

Despite Max’s encouraging words, reviews were mixed. One critic said there was no ‘chemical trace of magic, life, irony, romance or mysticism in … “The Great Gatsby”’.51 An unsigned report in the New York World was headlined: ‘F. SCOTT FITZGERALD’S LATEST A DUD’.52 The Herald Tribune argued that though Scott had managed the exact tone and shade of contemporary life he had not yet ‘gone below that glittering surface, except by a kind of happy accident’.53 Even Zelda’s fan Ring Lardner, who had read the book in page proofs, pointed out a series of inaccuracies and his praise was muted.54

Scott’s ego was slightly appeased when the two critics whose words he most valued were approving. Wilson wrote to him: ‘It is undoubtedly in some ways the best thing you have done — the best planned, the best sustained, the best written.’55 Mencken wrote — ‘I think it is incomparably the best piece of work you have done. Evidences of careful workmanship are on every page …’ though ‘it reduces itself, in the end, to a sort of anecdote’.56

Finally came unequivocal excellent reviews. In The Dial Gilbert Seldes concluded Fitzgerald had ‘more than matured, he has mastered his talents and gone soaring in a beautiful flight, leaving behind him everything dubious and tricky in his earlier work, and leaving even farther behind all the men of his own generation and most of his elders’.57

When T. S. Eliot wrote: ‘it seems to me to be the first step that American fiction has taken since Henry James’,58 Scott felt able to regard himself as ‘the biggest man in my profession … everybody admired me and I was proud I’d done such a good thing’.59

Scott’s satisfaction was justified, for Gatsby was and has remained an incandescently fine work.60 At the time, however, it was not the financial success he had hoped for. He had predicted first-year sales of 80,000 copies but it sold fewer than 20,000. At one level prepared for this, he had written to Perkins that he had already prepared a book of fine stories for the fall. His next idea was to write some quick ‘smart’ stories to accumulate money for his next novel. If he failed at that then he would leave for Hollywood to learn to write movies. He loathed financial insecurity but he had no idea how to reduce their high living standards. He still felt that if you didn’t work your hardest at your art there was little point in being an artist.

Fortunately for Scott and Zelda the dramatic rights to Gatsby were sold,61 which meant they were temporarily released from financial anxiety and he could return to ‘The Rich Boy’, based on Ludlow Fowler; this would be published in Redbook in January/February 1926. With Gatsby behind him Scott continued to plan his next novel.62

In May 1925 the Fitzgeralds met fifty-one-year-old Gertrude Stein, the experimental writer, and her companion Alice B. Toklas, who were at the heart of a celebrated Parisian literary salon at 27 rue de Fleurus. It attracted such writers as Ford Madox Ford, Edith Sitwell and Sherwood Anderson, and the writer-publisher Robert McAlmon, who had made a marriage of convenience to the British heiress, writer Winifred Ellerman (known as Bryher). Another habituee was Janet Flanner, Paris correspondent for the New Yorker, who also frequented the opposing literary salon in rue Jacob led by ‘The Amazon’, Natalie Barney.

When the Fitzgeralds arrived, Stein and Toklas were about to leave Paris for their annual vacation. Stein always demanded the undivided attention of gentlemen guests while females were handed over to Alice. One suspects strong-minded Zelda found this situation irritating. However, as Stein had become a pioneering collector of the modernist art of her vanguard painter-friends, Zelda was able to retreat from Toklas’s chit-chat to examine the paintings of Picasso, Matisse and Juan Gris adorning the walls.

Zelda, now regularly accompanying the Murphys to ballet, poetry recitals and avant-garde art shows, was fascinated by the Cubist still lifes and Picasso’s massive glowing Rose Period nudes.63 Though Zelda later wrote to Scott that Picasso’s art was more about ideas than painting, at the time she decided that of all Stein’s works the Picassos were ‘the only ones worth having’.64

Scott presented Stein with an inscribed copy of Gatsby and on 22 May she replied warmly that she liked the ‘melody’ of his dedication ‘Once Again To Zelda’. It showed he had a background of ‘beauty and tenderness’. He wrote ‘naturally in sentences’, she said. ‘You are creating the contemporary world much as Thackeray did his in Pendennis and Vanity Fair and this isn’t a bad compliment.’65 It wasn’t.

Scott wrote back unctuously: ‘My wife and I think you a very handsome, very gallant and very kind lady.’66 If Zelda did think any such thing she kept it to herself. Out loud she told Sara Mayfield that Stein’s conversation was ‘sententious gibberish’.67

Three-year-old Scottie did not take to Stein either. The child, highly disciplined by her British nannies, recalled: ‘[When] Gertrude Stein came to call I made my appearance, curtsied as I’d been taught to do, and left the minute I was excused. I found her terrifying.’68

Zelda’s friend Carl Van Vechten had become Stein’s American agent for her complex experimental plays and poems which were hard to understand and harder to place. But it was not Carl who introduced the Fitzgeralds to Stein and Toklas. It was Ernest Hemingway, the man who would become Zelda’s enemy.

Hemingway and his first wife Hadley had paid their first call on Stein in March 1922 when Gertrude discussed writing with Ernest, ‘a delightful fellow’,69 and Alice had taken Hadley aside to chat about domestic matters. Such a close bond was forged between the couples that Alice and Gertrude became godparents to Bumby, the Hemingways’ son. Since that first meeting, to confirm his literary standing, Hemingway had already brought to Stein’s studio Ada and Archibald MacLeish, Dos Passos and Ogden Stewart. When Zelda first visited Stein, Hemingway was Stein’s favourite writer.

Hemingway had previewed the Fitzgeralds’ visit by writing to Stein and Toklas a very favourable report. He told them Zelda was ‘worth seeing’ and he planned to bring the Fitzgeralds to meet Gertrude and Alice the following Friday.70 At that point Hemingway glowed with praise for Zelda — usually about her physical attributes, indicating that he thought of her in terms of a possible conquest. When she dealt a severe blow to his ego he rancorously rewrote his initial view of her.

Scott, who like Zelda had already met Hemingway in the Dingo bar in Montparnasse, had been immediately captivated. Hemingway, three years younger, considerably taller and more athletic, had a reputation as a war hero and acted the tough guy. Scott’s impression of Hemingway was entirely favourable. He had already read his two slim volumes, Three Stories and Ten Poems (1923) and the incisive vignette collection in our time (1924), and was as impressed by Hemingway’s dedication to writing, apparent openness and lack of affectation as he was by his undoubted talent.71 Hemingway was highly conscious of Scott’s well-established commercial celebrity but felt superior and virtuous about seeking artistic accomplishment irrespective of financial rewards. Scott, aware of the younger writer’s patronizing attitude, was still ready to make a hero out of Hemingway.

Thirty-two years after their first meeting Hemingway wrote an unreliable report which describes Scott as effeminate, with a long-lipped mouth that ‘on a girl would have been the mouth of a beauty … the mouth worried you until you knew him and then it worried you more’. He portrays him as a nuisance, a fool and a pathetic drunk.72 It seems Scott had overpraised Hemingway’s work, embarrassed him with personal questions (‘Did you sleep with your wife before you were married?’), then passed out.73

In May 1925 Scott invited Hemingway to go to Lyons with him to pick up the Renault he and Zelda had abandoned. This trip has given rise to competing versions. At the time Hemingway wrote to Max Perkins a very positive account: ‘We had a great trip together … I’ve read his Great Gatsby and think it is an absolutely first rate book.’74 In A Moveable Feast, not written until Scott had been dead nearly twenty years and Hemingway was on the edge of dementia that would end in suicide, Hemingway created a malicious semifactual account of Scott’s annoying behaviour during the drive. He reveals Fitzgerald as self-pitying, hypochondriac, unreliable, spendthrift, artistically flawed, sexually inexperienced, emasculated by Zelda and consistently drunk. He himself remains mature, manly and sober. Scott’s behaviour could well have made that trip tedious, but this later scathing report of Hemingway’s bears no resemblance to his earlier one. Similarly, at the time Hemingway told Ezra Pound that both he and Fitzgerald enjoyed an enormous consumption of wine.75 But in his vitriolic A Moveable Feast he records only Scott’s drunkenness.

If there were bitter undercurrents at the time, Scott ignored them. Instead he wrote to Gertrude Stein: ‘Hemminway and I went to Lyons … to get my car and had a slick drive … He’s a peach of a fellow and absolutely first rate.’76

Scott had already told Perkins six months before he met Hemingway that this peachy fellow had ‘a brilliant future … He’s the real thing.’77 Zelda, after meeting Hemingway, told Gerald, who asked what she had against Hemingway: ‘He’s bogus.’78 ‘At the time,’ Gerald said later, ‘the word just didn’t seem to fit; there wasn’t anyone more real and more himself than Ernest. Bogus, Ernest? Of course, who knows how right she may prove to be?’79

For Zelda there appeared to be proof in every action Ernest took, every word he spoke. From the moment she met Hemingway, she disliked him with an unwavering unrelenting force equalled only by his own for her. The stage was set for the battle between Zelda and Hemingway for Scott’s allegiance. None of the weapons they used were pleasant.


1 ZSF ‘Show Mr and Mrs F. to Number —’, Collected Writings, p. 422.

2 ZSF to MP, undated fragment, c. fall/winter 1924, CO101, Box 53, Folder Zelda Fitzgerald, 1921–1944, PUL.

3 ZSF to MP, 11 Nov. 1924, ibid.

4 ZSF to FSF, late summer/early fall 1930, Life in Letters, p. 192.

5 Honoria Murphy Donnelly to the author, series of telephone conversations and interviews, New York, 1998. Mayfield, Exiles, consistently confirms this.

6 ZSF, ‘Show Mr and Mrs F. to Number —’, p. 422.

7 Ibid.

8 MP to FSF, 20 Nov. 1924, Dear Scott/Dear Max, p. 83. In October Scott had sent the novel to Perkins who responded (18 Nov.): ‘I think the novel is a wonder … it has vitality to an extraordinary degree, and glamour, and a great deal of underlying thought of unusual quality … as for sheer writing it’s astonishing.’

9 FSF to MP, c. 1 Dec. 1924, Dear Scott/Dear Max, p. 85.

10 FSF to MP, c. 20 Dec. 1924, ibid., p. 89.

11 FSF to MP, c. 1 Dec. 1924, ibid., p. 85.

12 FSF to MP, c. 20 Dec. 1924, ibid., p. 88.

13 ‘The Adjuster’, Redbook Magazine, Sep. 1925; ‘Not In The Guidebook’, Woman’s Home Companion, Nov. 1925.

14 ‘The Adjuster’, All The Sad Young Men, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1926, pp. 189–90.

15 Wilson, The Twenties, p. 298.

16 Scottie in later years looked back on all her Christmases as decorative occasions and times of excitement.

17 Scott drew on the discarded Gatsby section for his romantically disposed hero, Rudolph Miller. Miller’s background was initially intended to represent Gatsby’s early life.

18 Sara Mayfield had looked after her during 1923.

19 It was published 24 July 1924. Fifteen years later, after Sara’s early death, Mencken confessed ‘to my shame’ that he had failed to recognize its ‘solid maturity’ (Ann Henley, Introduction, Southern Souvenirs, p. 9).

20 Mayfield, Exiles, p. 126. The conversation took place in 1928.

21 FSF, Ledger, Feb. 1925.

22 FSF to John Peale Bishop, c. Apr. 1925, Life in Letters, p. 104.

23 ZSF, ‘Show Mr and Mrs F. to Number —’, p. 422.

24 Aunt Annabel had travelled to Rome for the Holy Year observances.

25 Wilson, quoting Fitzgerald, to Arthur Mizener, 10 Nov. 1949, Letters on Literature and Politics, pp. 562–3; Mellow, Invented Lives, p. 229.

26 Through Mackenzie the Fitzgeralds also met Francis Brett Young, Mary Roberts Rinehart and Axel Munthe, who was working on what would become his bestselling The Story of San Michele.

27 His biographer James Mellow pointed out that though Scott was always edgy and boorish in the company of ‘fairies’, as he disparagingly called them, he developed an ever-increasing curiosity about their habits. Scott’s contorted complex relationship to this sexual issue was yet another of his remarkable resemblances to Zelda.

28 FSF to MP, 31 Mar. 1925, Tumbull, Letters, p. 197.

29 James Mellow is interesting on this matter. Invented Lives, p. 229.

30 FSF to Wilson, 7 Oct. 1924.

31 FSF to Wilson, 10 Jan. 1918; Mellow, Invented Lives, p. 229.

32 Kendall Taylor, Sometimes Madness Is Wisdom. Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald: A Marriage, Ballantine Books, New York, 2001, p. 143.

33 Art critic Carolyn Shafer to the author, Feb./Mar. 2001.

34 Documentation of Zelda’s artistic work in Europe is particularly lacking. Shafer holds the view that as Europe was where Zelda first began to paint, she may have taken art lessons on more than one occasion in more than one European city. She may also have had exhibitions during her frequent visits to Europe of which both Shafer and this biographer are unaware.

35 The painting is both unfinished and painted over.

36 Shafer, ‘To Spread a Human Aspiration: The Art of Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald’, unpublished MA thesis, University of South Carolina, 1994, pp. 28, 19.

37 Jane S. Livingston is one critic who takes this view.

38 Shafer believes Picasso had a substantial influence on Zelda. Other critics disagree.

39 Sara Murphy to Mizener, 17 Jan. 1950; letter lent to this author by Honoria Murphy Donnelly.

40 Winzola McLendon, ‘Interview: Frances Scott Fitzgerald to Winzola McLendon’, Ladies Home Journal, Nov. 1974. Nasturtiums were always on the table set for the lunches en famille Zelda organized during that period.

41 Shafer, ‘To Spread a Human Aspiration’, pp. 101, 102.

42 Eddie Pattillo to the author, Feb./Mar. 2001 and in discussions with the author, Montgomery, 1999, 2000.

43 Shafer to the author, Feb./Mar. 2001.

44 Calvin Tomkins, Living Well, p. 42.

45 Memories of Ginevra’s wedding provided Scott with details for Daisy’s marriage to Tom Buchanan.

46 FSF, Gatsby, Abacus, p. 124.

47 Whereas in ‘The Sensible Thing’ George O’Kelly accepts love’s mutability: “There are all kinds of love in the world but never the same love twice’, Gatsby believes that one can recapture the past. ‘Can’t repeat the past? … Why of course you can!’: FSF, ‘The Sensible Thing’, All The Sad Young Men, pp. 237–8; The Great Gatsby, p. 104.

48 Baker may also have been based on a champion golfer called Jordan, a classmate of Ginevra, the other woman Scott considered ‘disloyal’. However Scott told Perkins that Jordan was Edith Cummings, another golfing schoolfriend of Ginevra’s. FSF to MP, c. 20 Dec. 1924, Dear Scott/Dear Max, p. 90.

49 FSF to Annabel Fitzgerald, c. 1915, Life in Letters, p. 9.

50 Taylor, Sometimes Madness, p. 145.

51 Ruth Hale, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, reproduced in Romantic Egoists, p. 125.

52 F. Scott Fitzgerald In His Own Time, p. 345.

53 Ibid., p. 347.

54 Lardner to FSF, Mar. 1925, CO187, Box 50, PUL.

55 Wilson to FSF, 11 Apr. 1925, Wilson, Letters, p. 121.

56 Mencken to FSF, 16 Apr. 1925, Correspondence of F. Scott Fitzgerald, p. 158.

57 Seldes, ‘Spring Flight’, The Dial, Aug. 1925, p. 162.

58 T. S. Eliot to FSF, 31 Dec. 1925, Romantic Egoists, p. 135.

59 FSF quoted in Scott Donaldson, Hemingway vs. Fitzgerald: The Rise and Fall of a Literary Friendship, John Murray, London, 2000, p. 60.

60 On the 102nd anniversary of Scott’s birth, novelist Allan Gurganus called Gatsby a ‘work of pure protein genius, the most disciplined and prophetic novel of its decade’. Gurganus, ‘Sacrificial Couples, the Splendor of our Failures and Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald’, paper commissioned by the F. Scott Fitzgerald Society, delivered at the Fitzgeralds’ 1930s haunt, Grove Park Inn, Asheville, North Carolina, 24 Sep. 1998. Lent to the author by Gurganus.

61 Scott learned this in June 1925.

62 This would after many name changes become Tender Is The Night.

63 These were raw studies for his masterpiece the Demoiselles d’Avignon.

64 ZSF to FSF, undated, CO187, Box 44, Folder 15, PUL.

65 Gertrude Stein to FSF, 22 May 1925, Crack-Up, New Directions, 1945, p. 308.

66 FSF to Stein, June 1925, The Flowers of Friendship: Letters Written to Gertrude Stein, ed. Donald Gallup, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1953, p. 174; Life in Letters, p. 115.

67 Mayfield, Exiles, p. 220.

68 Scottie Fitzgerald Smith, Memoir.

69 As Stein reported to Sherwood Anderson, who had introduced Hemingway to her. Donaldson, Hemingway vs. Fitzgerald, p. 62.

70 James R. Mellow points out that Hemingway’s meeting with Zelda seems to have taken place before, not after, his trip to Lyons with Scott in May. It is clear from a letter to Van Vechten that Stein and Toklas left for Belley on 18 May 1925; the date of this letter to them from Hemingway should therefore be mid-May. Mellow, Hemingway: A Life Without Consequences, Hodder & Stoughton, London, Sydney, Auckland, 1992, p. 290.

71 He had been alerted by Edmund Wilson to Hemingway’s writings in the Transatlantic Review.

72 EH, Moveable Feast, p. 147.

73 It is worth noting that Moveable Feast warns: ‘If the reader prefers, this book may be regarded as fiction. But there is always the chance that such a book of fiction may throw some light on what has been written as fact.’ Hemingway’s statements about the Fitzgeralds are often unreliable. In Moveable Feast he says Fitzgerald came to the Dingo with Princetonian Duncan Chaplin, thus providing another witness to Scott’s bad behaviour, but Chaplin was not in Europe in 1925.

74 EH to MP, 9 June 1925, EH, Selected Letters, ed. Carlos Baker, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1981, pp. 162–3.

75 Scott Donaldson, Hemingway vs. Fitzgerald, p. 61.

76 FSF to Stein, June 1925, Flowers of Friendship, p. 174; Life in Letters, p. 115.

77 FSF to MP, c. 10 Oct. 1924, Dear Scott/Dear Max, p. 78.

78 Mayfield, Exiles, pp. 136–7.

79 Gerald Murphy to Milford, 26 Apr 1963, Milford, Zelda, p. 117. Scribner’s did not publish Hemingway’s savage attack on both the Fitzgeralds and the Murphys in Moveable Feast until 1964, the year Murphy died. Nearly forty years later additional research on Hemingway as the ‘real thing’ has shown just how much insight Zelda had about Hemingway and how intelligent Murphy was to remain cautious.


At the first sight of Zelda, Hemingway behaved no differently from many of Scott’s male friends. He found Mrs Fitzgerald, the woman ‘worth seeing’, intensely physically attractive.

During the first lunch Ernest and Hadley Hemingway shared with the Fitzgeralds, Hemingway displayed his attraction to Zelda.1 It was a gloomy lunch party which took place soon after Scott and Hemingway’s first meeting, supposedly at the Fitzgeralds’ ornate, badly furnished apartment, according to Sara Mayfield a ‘depressing flat over a brasserie … a fifth-floor walk-up, with strange purple-and-gold wallpaper’.2 In fact, documentation shows the famous lunch took place not at the Fitzgeralds’ curious apartment but at the Hemingways’ humble flat.3 Perhaps it was its humble location that made the inventive Ernest change it to the Fitzgeralds’ superior one!

Zelda remembers an ornamental turtle on the lunch table brimming with white violets. Ernest remembers Zelda. But exactly what he remembers depends on which of his versions you read.

In his earliest manuscript version of that lunch he gives this picture of Zelda: ‘very beautiful and … tanned a lovely gold color and her hair was a beautiful dark gold and she was very friendly. Her hawk’s eyes were clear and calm.’ Her skin is smooth and tawny, her legs light and long as ‘nigger legs’, she is not drunk nor is she jealous of Scott’s work. Though Hemingway sees her as spoilt and as saying curious things he admits to an erotic dream about her the following night. ‘The next time I saw her I told her that and she was pleased. That was the first and last time we ever had anything in common.’4

Maybe. Or maybe not. There is counter-evidence which shows that at the start of the two couples’ friendship, when Hemingway writes to Scott he regularly sends affectionate greetings to Zelda: ‘And how is Zelda?’, ‘Best love to Zelda’ and similarly pleasant if perfunctory remarks.5 When Zelda was sick, Hemingway demonstrated concern. He wrote to Scott that he understood how hard pain was and what a shame it was for Zelda to be ill.

Hemingway during this short early period was confident that Zelda as well as Scott would be fascinated by him. But Zelda, who often responded flirtatiously to male interest, did not respond to Hemingway.

Far from it. Cynical about Hemingway’s display of aggressive manliness, she thought Scott’s romantic admiration for his hard-boiled manner demeaning. Attracted to deferential, civilized, more polished men, Zelda felt menaced by Hemingway’s brutish behaviour. Seeing his influence as a threat to her marriage, she shrewdly queried Ernest’s sexual prowess. First she remarked to Gerald: ‘Nobody is as male as all that!’ Then she taunted Hemingway to his face: ‘No one is as masculine as you pretend to be.’6 She told Sara Mayfield and wrote to Perkins that Ernest was ‘a sort of materialist mystic’,7 rather than a gentleman in their Southern sense. Indeed Hemingway was not a gentleman in any sense. Mayfield remembers Ernest derided polite conversation between men as ‘damn women’s talk’. His method of commending one male friend to another was to announce: ‘You’ll like him — he’s tough.’ Zelda told Sara this was suspicious camouflage, that beneath Hemingway’s integrity as a writer there was base metal in the man that never rang true. She felt that under Ernest’s well-publicized ‘healthy’ interest in sports, tippling and war, there was ‘a morbid preoccupation with offbeat sex and the sadism and necrophilia that go with it’ which she found ‘repugnant’.8

One afternoon at the Deux Magots cafe Sara listened to the Fitzgeralds arguing about Hemingway. Scott reprimanded Zelda for insulting Hemingway. Zelda retorted: ‘“I didn’t insult him. I just said he was a phony.”’

Sara, as amazed by the word ‘phony’ as Gerald had been at the word ‘bogus’, repeated incredulously to Zelda: ‘“A phony? What makes you say that?”

‘“She’s jealous,” Scott said.’9

If Zelda was jealous, Hemingway was certainly vindictive.

In his later published version of A Moveable Feast, Hemingway carefully contrives to rewrite that first lunch scene in the purple-and-gold wallpapered apartment to put both Zelda and Scottie in a very bad light. Three-year-old Scottie is portrayed with a strong Cockney accent acquired from an English nanny. Zelda is hung over with a drawn face, tired eyes, suffering a poor permanent wave which has ruined her ‘beautiful dark blond hair’. Hemingway focuses on how Zelda encourages Scott to drink, calls him ‘kill-joy’ and ‘spoilsport’ when he demurs and smiles smugly as he drinks so much he will be unable to write later.10

Neither account — the version portraying Zelda as dissipated and manipulative, nor the version in which she is erotic and dreamworthy — is entirely to be trusted. But the rewriting to Zelda’s detri ment in that late account in A Moveable Feast after her death was the last in a long series of attacks which continued throughout her life.

Hemingway fired off the first of his charges in 1925.

Zelda was too independent. She was jealous of Scott’s work. She didn’t put Scott and his writing first. She encouraged Scott’s drinking to further destroy his talents. Her greed was behind Scott’s decision to devote more time to best-selling stories, less to literature. As for their luxuriant lifestyle (for which Hemingway held her responsible), it was shamefully brash compared with his and Hadley’s. Hemingway paused. Breathed. Took aim again. This time he spotted signs of a lesbian orientation, well if not that, or not that quite yet, Zelda certainly mixed with women who mixed with women. Worst of all, Hemingway noticed definite signs of instability.

Legend suggests that on first meeting Zelda, Hemingway drew Scott aside and said brutally: ‘She’s crazy,’ shocking Scott deeply.11 Hadley, when questioned, had no memory of Ernest saying this though it is possible that Ernest spoke out of her hearing. Hemingway still insisted in conversations with Scott as late as 1934 that he had known in 1925 that Zelda was unstable. ‘I thought Zelda was crazy the first time I met her and you complicated it even more by being in love with her and, of course, you’re a rummy.’12

During 1925, Hemingway ensured Zelda heard his tales of her supposed craziness. Zelda said angrily to Scott in front of Sara Mayfield: ‘He [Hemingway] thinks I’m crazy and says so. Why shouldn’t I say anything I choose to about him?’ To which Scott replied that if she said scandalous things about his big new friend she was crazy.13

The following year on the Riviera, when Zelda said ironically: ‘Ernest, don’t you think Al Jolson is greater than Jesus?’, Hemingway saw this as confirmation of Zelda’s insanity.14 Neither Hemingway nor his biographers recognized Zelda’s remark as typically idiosyncratic. In this case she repeated it: Gerald Murphy also recalls her saying, ‘Don’t you think that Al Jolson is just like Christ?’ Gerald did not push Zelda further as other people were present, but he said such startling remarks ‘gave her conversation a freshness and a certain edge that was part of her charm’. Honoria Murphy said that Gerald considered neither Hemingway nor Scott ever fathomed Zelda’s complexity: ‘her mind operated in a different way from other friends, she quite simply made different connections.’15

Sara Murphy thought that though Zelda’s ‘wit was sometimes barbed, it derived from the surprise of incongruity and from searching, humorous observation’.16

Many of the Fitzgeralds’ friends did not believe Hemingway’s canards. They told Arthur Mizener, Scott’s first biographer, that Zelda saw more sanely than Scott how seriously their lives were getting out of hand. During 1925–6 Zelda had more stability than Scott and a greater strength of character to resist dissipation. Mizener suggested: ‘A good deal of injustice has certainly been done to the Zelda of the twenties because she later went insane and it is difficult not to let the knowledge that she did so affect one’s view of what she was like before 1930.’17

Some of the reasons for Hemingway’s focus on these particular ‘flaws’ in Zelda can be seen in his childhood, early manhood and in his choice of marriage partner and style of marriage.

Hemingway was born in Oak Park, a Chicago suburb, on 21 July 1899, the second of six children. Like Scott he had a dominant mother and a father given to depression, who was passive with his wife but strict with his children, all of whom were regularly spanked. Dr Clarence Hemingway was an outdoor person who taught his children to hunt and fish. Strong-willed Grace Hall, Ernest’s mother, was an indoor person, musical, artistic, determined to remain independent. A good soprano, she worked with a famous voice coach, auditioned for the Met and when married continued to give singing lessons, earning ten times more than her husband earned as a doctor. Grace treated her two first-born, daughter Marcelline and son Ernest, in an unusual manner that had a lasting effect on Ernest — and on his relationship to Zelda. Grace dressed them like female twins, in gingham dresses or fluffy lace tucked frocks with picture hats. She had their hair cut similarly in a Dutch dolly style with bangs across the forehead hanging prettily below the ears. Ernest wore dresses until he entered kindergarten, twice as long as any contemporary boy might have been attired in female garb. Moreover no boys in that period had girls’ haircuts as well as girls’ clothes.18

Both Ernest and Marcelline felt scarred by their father’s mental illness and their mother’s intimate companionship with Ruth Arnold, Grace’s former favourite pupil, who was only three years older than Marcelline and had long lodged with the family. As she and Clarence became estranged, Grace decided to use an inheritance to build a cottage a mile away from the family summer residence. Ruth visited there constantly after Dr Hemingway forbade her to enter his family home. Dr Hemingway began to act ‘insane on the subject’ of Ruth, just as Ernest would begin to act insane on the subject of Zelda.19 Ernest consistently depicted his mother as a villain in fiction and letters, but it seems Grace’s greatest crimes were her artistic independence and her unapologetic unwillingness to become an ordinary housewife.20 In this she was very like Zelda.

During the 1920s Ernest’s hatred of his mother had intensified. He felt she had emasculated his father and later felt she drove him to his suicide in 1928, after which young Ruth moved in to live with Grace.21 Incensed, Ernest would then forbid his sons to visit his mother on the grounds that she was ‘androgynous’.

So by the time Zelda encountered Hemingway his hostility to domineering women, his anxieties about mental instability and his aggression towards lesbianism were strongly formed. All he needed was a target.

Towards male homosexuals he was less aggressive than intensely curious, as Scott was. Gerald Murphy noticed Hemingway would frequently say: ‘I don’t mind a fairy like so and so, do you? … He was extremely sensitive to the question of who was one and who wasn’t.’22 The teasing homoerotic letters Ernest and Scott wrote each other showed their shared attitude of antipathy yet attraction towards ‘fairies’ which escalated into crude banter when they drank.

But of course neither of them wished the outside world to view them as ‘fairies’, and Scott in particular was protective of Ernest’s manly reputation. Zelda however had no such reservations. When Scott accused her of being jealous of Hemingway she shrieked: “‘Of what? A rugged adventurer, big-game hunter, sportsman, and professional he man, a pansy with hair on his chest?”’

Scott’s face went scarlet and his eyes bulged as he shouted.

“‘Zelda! Don’t ever say that again … it’s slanderous.”’

Zelda, calmer than Scott, pointed out that if calling Hemingway a pansy was slander, then Scott should sue the homosexual American writer Robert McAlmon, who was currently spreading the rumour that Scott and Ernest were homosexuals. Zelda told Sara that Scott and Ernest both fell out with McAlmon because of these — in their terms — unsavoury accusations.23 Scott, deeply distressed, began to question his masculinity, which in turn had negative implications for his marriage.

Perhaps in retaliation for these rumours, Hemingway charged Zelda with seeking out lesbian company in Paris salons as a method of impeding Scott’s work. He believed Scott was frightened that spring that Zelda would get so drunk that she would lose control. Hemingway admitted that Zelda did not encourage those who pursued her but the pursuers amused her and also made Scott so jealous he insisted on accompanying Zelda everywhere. That meant he could not work.

As Hemingway recalled and wrote about the incident many years later, several of Scott’s biographers think he misremembered the date and that Zelda entered Natalie Barney’s lesbian artistic set in 1929, a date which is substantially documented. However, if we consider the women Zelda mixed with in 1925–6 it is plausible that Hemingway was correct. Through the Hemingways and Murphys, Zelda met Pauline Pfeiffer, a Vogue journalist from Arkansas, rumoured to be on a husband-hunting expedition in Paris, who had become attracted to Ernest, and her small exotic sister Jinnie, who, by taking more interest in women suitors than in men, may have introduced other artistic lesbians into Zelda’s circle.24 However, during 1925 and 1926 Zelda would almost certainly have been drawn to these women because they were artists. Although her marriage was suffering sexually, both through her own lingering illnesses and through Scott’s by now addictive alcoholism, she was not in search of specific sexual adventures with women. She was, however, angry with Hemingway who, she felt, ruthlessly encouraged Scott’s drinking.

Hemingway seemed able to drink all day, half the night and still work well the next morning, whereas after three cocktails Scott was ‘off on a spree that left him shot for a week’.25 Ironically, in 1925, when Scott’s writing began to suffer more severely from his alcoholism, Hemingway blamed Zelda, and later hand-wrote a sketch to show her again in a bad light.26 In the sketch Fitzgerald frequently turns up drunk at the Hemingways’. Ernest’s son Bumby asks his father whether M. Fitzgerald is ill. Ernest replies that Scott’s sickness derives from too much alcohol and therefore too little work. Young Bumby wonders whether Scott still respects his own art. Caustically Ernest points out that it is Zelda who does not respect Scott’s art and may well be jealous of it. Bumby the true son of Ernest suggests Scott should chastise Zelda

This was exactly what Ernest thought Scott should do. He thought Zelda should play out a traditional role like his wife Hadley. Despite a private income, Hadley did the cooking and cleaning whilst Ernest fixed bottles for baby Bumby and dramatized their reduced circumstances. Zelda of course always employed nannies and wherever she and Scott lived they lived extravagantly, while Hadley and Ernest lived frugally in a sparsely furnished apartment over a sawmill off the Latin Quarter at 113 rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs. Zelda’s clothes came from Patou or Chanel, Hadley’s from Au Bon Marche. Hemingway minded that more than did either Zelda or Hadley.

The Fitzgeralds took cocktails at the Ritz or the George V while the Hemingways drank at zinc bars in the Latin Quarter. The Fitzgeralds regularly dined on pressed duck at the Tour d’Argent or sampled pate aux truffes at Maxim’s, while Ernest and Hadley had been known to borrow money from their friend Sylvia Beach, who owned the famous Shakespeare and Company bookstore, to eat at the local brasserie. As the Hemingways possessed no evening clothes, if the Fitzgeralds met them after dinner outings had to be tempered to the Hemingways’ tastes. These were primarily dancing at bals musettes, attending boxing matches or touring decadent and homosexual bars in the rue de Lappe.27 Hemingway’s fondness for these lends a certain irony to his accusation that year that Zelda was consorting with lesbians. Zelda in fact preferred to accompany the Murphys to a Diaghilev premiere, or one of Etienne de Beaumont’s ‘Soirees de Paris’, than to haunt bars with the Hemingways. Zelda confided in Sara Mayfield that she hated the friends Scott had picked up at the Dingo Bar. ‘All they talk about is sex — sex plain, striped, mixed, and fancy. Nice life, sitting in a cafe all day and a bal musette all night. You have to drink yourself blotto to keep from being bored to death.’28

The couples’ friendship was largely based on Scott and Ernest’s shared interest in writing. Hadley and Zelda were merely writers’ wives who did not particularly get on. Hadley found the Fitzgeralds ‘inconvenient friends’, as they called on the Hemingways at four in the morning: ‘We had a baby and didn’t appreciate it very much. When Scott wrote I don’t know.’29

Temperament and marital goals were more serious differences between the two women. Hadley felt Zelda was fundamentally frivolous, though ‘a charming, lovely creature … [who] lived on what Ernest called the “festival conception of life”’.30 Hadley admired Zelda’s beauty and style but recognized they had little in common. Zelda was bold and free spirited, Hadley shy and still insecure.

Born Hadley Richardson in 1891 in St Louis, the youngest of four, she was delicately reared and overprotected because of a childhood injury.31 When she was twelve her beloved father committed suicide, as Ernest’s father would do later. It was a cheerless household for a timorous adolescent. Musically talented like her domineering mother, she retreated into her music until she entered Bryn Mawr, but was forced to leave college because of illness. Her life became still grimmer when her oldest sister died giving birth to a stillborn child; then her mother contracted Bright’s Disease, so Hadley nursed her until she died in 1921. At twenty-nine Hadley saw herself as a spinster. On a visit to Chicago an excitable twenty-one-year-old, ‘hulky, bulky, something masculine’,32 noticed her diffidently playing the piano at a party. This hulky creature was Ernest Hemingway, unproven writer. Her shyness dissolved. Within three weeks Hemingway talked of marriage. Hadley adored the fact Ernest was devoted to his art. Ernest adored her red hair, sense of fun and her appreciation of him, his adventures, his writing. Before they married she wrote Ernest letters similar to those Zelda had written to Scott: ‘I love your ambitions. Don’t think I am ambitious except to be a balanced, happy, intelligent lady, making the man happy.’ But Hadley, who understood Ernest’s fears (which paralleled Scott’s), assured him that though she had had a girlhood friendship with a lesbian he ‘needn’t fear on that side’.33 Hadley’s nurturing instinct suited Ernest. Hadley’s trust fund suited him more.34 Hadley decided she would use her fund to back Ernest’s career. They married on 3 September 1921, after which Ernest saw himself as a teacher with Hadley as his brightest pupil, who would never be allowed to dominate him as his mother had dominated his father. Zelda, aware of Hemingway’s determination, worried that he would further influence Scott in that direction.

Observantly she said to Hadley: ‘I notice that in the Hemingway family you do what Ernest wants.’ Hadley was honest enough to admit that although ‘Ernest didn’t like that much … it was a perceptive remark. He had a passionate, overwhelming desire to do some of the things that have since been written about, and so I went along with him — with the trips, the adventures. He had such a powerful personality; he could be so enthusiastic that I became caught up in the notions too.’35

Hadley did not tell Zelda that what she observed in the Fitzgerald marriage was two kinds of jealousy: Scott’s jealousy of Zelda and Zelda’s jealousy of Scott’s work.36 The fact that Hadley’s ambitions were to service Ernest’s skewed her view of Zelda so that she loyally echoed Hemingway’s view that Zelda ‘was more jealous of his [Scott’s] work than anything’.37 Zelda’s letters and fiction show clearly that at this time she was not jealous of Scott’s achievements, but was growing resentful that her part in Scott’s success was neither credited nor paid for; her attempts at independent writing were subsumed under Scott’s name, while her painting was seen as frivolous.

When Hadley noticed that Zelda was not swept along by Ernest’s charisma, she suggested: ‘He was too assured a male for her. Maybe she … resented it … He was then the kind of man to whom men, women, children and dogs were attracted.’38 Hadley was right about men liking him. Unlike Scott, who found male friendships difficult because he made heroes of his male friends, Hemingway inspired male companionship. But not all women liked him. One woman friend said he was ‘in every way a man’s man. I think he disliked women heartily; and in most cases they disliked him — excluding sex, of course.’39

Zelda was now painting steadily. What is more, she had a direct entry to Natalie Barney’s rue Jacob art enclave, for she had already met Barney’s lover, the painter Romaine Brooks. Now, through Esther Murphy and Esther’s sister-in-law Noel, Barney’s friend, Zelda met other female artists and writers. Gerald Murphy, irritated by the group’s openly homosexual antics, distanced himself from his sister, particularly when Esther was fictionalized as Bounding Bess by novelist Djuna Barnes in her lesbian satire Ladies Almanack. Noel, married to Gerald’s brother Frederick, found Gerald’s attitude inexcusable, partly because she accurately suspected that Gerald was being dishonest about his own submerged homosexual feelings.40

Zelda found the group’s artistic camaraderie stimulating and their willingness to take her art seriously a change from Scott’s attitude, which vacillated between suggesting she did something for herself and giving her little credit when she did.

During 1925 she started on a self-portrait which she worked on for a year. She was using watercolour and gouache on paper, a medium which suited her life of travel. It would have been hard to transport and store vast stretchers, bulky canvases and oil paints whereas small gouaches on paper were easily portable.41

Zelda dated few of her paintings so it is difficult to be precise about which watercolour she worked on during 1925. The most likely is Girl With Orange Dress because it shows influences of Larionov and other Cubists and has some links with Murphy’s paintings.

Zelda was thoroughly exposed to the work of Mikhail Larionov in 1925, when she viewed his sets, scenes and curtains for the Diaghilev ballet, all in the same intense powerful colours she used in her early paintings.42 Like Larionov, Zelda uses a Cubist perspective to fracture pictorial space without allowing the scene to disintegrate. In Girl With Orange Dress her two main subjects, a girl in billowing skirts and a zany dog, are seen from different viewpoints on different planes. Then to achieve wild vibrations she explodes a bright orange colour on to the picture.43 The girl’s body sways off-centre, her billowing skirt makes the picture move, while the dog leaps about in the right foreground. Zelda’s cockeyed angles and compositional movements force our gaze to move too, with an effect akin to an earthquake. Zelda’s craft, still in its early stages, allowed her partially to restore the painting’s balance by splashing reddish-orange on the fireplace and vase of flowers, to move the viewer’s eye to the right of the composition.

The first impressions that Zelda’s friends derived from her paintings were like their first impressions of the artist: no one quite knew what was going on in Zelda’s head. Characteristically, Zelda produced ambiguities. It is not clear if the girl dressed in orange is dancing or just swaying like a plant. It is not clear if she is merry or sad.

Zelda had also seen many of Gerald Murphy’s paintings. Though he was never a direct influence on her there are at this point some similarities in their work. Gerald used shifting perspectives to represent real objects together with abstract forms to achieve a haunting emotional intensity that unsettles viewers, much as Zelda’s paintings do. In 1924 he had painted a remarkable picture, Razor, which influenced the Murphys’ set.44 He crossed a fountain pen and a safety razor like heraldic quarterings against a gigantic matchbox, balanced the matchbox on three other boxes and gave them oddly angled perspectives. When Zelda and other friends looked at it, they saw the matchbox top presented flat as if viewed from above; the part that held the matches receded from their gaze, while the razor was drawn in profile and in section from three viewpoints. What Gerald’s and Zelda’s dissimilar paintings had in common was the odd angles and strange brooding quality which gave them their sense of power. But while Gerald’s work has precision, brevity and control, Zelda’s is untamed.

Already painting and writing, Zelda now returned after a seven-year gap to her old love, ballet. According to Mayfield, in spring 1925 in Paris both Fitzgeralds met Lubov Egorova, the Princess Troubetskoy, who would become the single most significant artistic influence on Zelda.45 Egorova, formerly a leading ballerina with the Russian Imperial Ballet, had emigrated to Paris and at Diaghilev’s suggestion opened a studio in 1923, where she excelled as a ballet coach. One version of how Zelda and Egorova first met is that Scott, who thought Zelda needed something to do, suggested that Murphy arrange an introduction; more probably Zelda, who knew Egorova was teaching young Honoria Murphy, asked Gerald to arrange dancing lessons for her. Because of the Fitzgeralds’ constant travelling Zelda did not begin her serious dance work until 1927. However, as Mayfield later remarked, the seeds of the Fitzgeralds’ discord over Egorova were sown before Zelda and Scott left Paris to visit the Murphys in Antibes in August 1925.

Sara Murphy recalled that during that year ‘She [Zelda] worked so hard at her painting and writing and dancing,’ but added, ‘We … only wish she had been happier.’46

Despite her fruitful activities Zelda was increasingly unhappy about the role of Hemingway in her marriage, while Scott certainly felt torn between his wife and his new friend. But he continued to advance Ernest’s literary progress with great generosity. As self-appointed talent scout for Perkins, Fitzgerald successfully masterminded Ernest’s move to Scribner’s. He even lent money to Hemingway, who exaggerated his poverty.47 Zelda objected to Scott’s constant loans to Ernest. ‘He’s a pain in the neck — talking about me and borrowing money from you while he does it,’ she said angrily to Scott. ‘He’s phony as a rubber check and you know it.’48

Hemingway accepted but never forgave Scott’s benevolence.49 His manipulative skill shows when after finishing Gatsby he wrote that he was suddenly aware that no matter how badly Scott behaved, he would regard such behaviour merely as sickness. Moreover Ernest would try, as a good friend, to help him. Those lines effectively established Hemingway as Scott’s benefactor when it was largely the other way round.50

That spring and summer of 1925 Scott, with Hemingway’s encouragement, and an assertive style not unlike Hemingway’s own, completed a significant work, ‘The Rich Boy’.51 Scott wrote to their wealthy friend Ludlow Fowler that it was ‘in large measure the story of your life, toned down here and there and simplified’.52 In one of his most famous literary passages Scott divulges a deep-held belief:

Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful … they think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves.53

Though Zelda was intermittently ill with gynaecological problems during the summer, for Scott it was a time of ‘1000 parties and no work’.54 He sipped cocktails with the Murphys and got drunk with Hemingway, ‘an equeal and my kind of idealist’.55 His drinking increased so that even their friends’ children became aware of it. Fanny Myers recalls how one lunchtime Scott rang their doorbell, staggered in drunk then fell on her bed. Alice Myers explained to little Fanny that Scott was ‘having a little lie down’. Fanny forgave him because on his recovery he said she was exceptionally pretty, her first ever compliment.56

Scott’s debauched lifestyle was leaving physical effects. Sara Mayfield reported: ‘His hair was still yellow as a jonquil, but he had lost the fresh-scrubbed look of an Arrow collar advertisement. His hands were stained with nicotine, and he was constantly drumming a tattoo with them or wiping the perspiration from them with a damp handkerchief … his skin had a greenish tinge … he had developed what he called “a pot”.’57

Zelda still retained her lithe figure and classic beauty but her blue eyes, according to Sara, were often sad. In unguarded moments she nervously twisted her hands together or chewed the corner of her mouth. The Murphys noticed a strange smile occasionally played about Zelda’s lips.

Scott’s behaviour, even with the Murphys, became unreliable, sometimes tasteless. One evening the Murphys took the Fitzgeralds and Barrys to a new dance restaurant near the Champs-Elysees. Scott, uninterested in food, music or dancing, remained sullen. Ellen Barry recalls that when the Murphys rose to leave Scott sank to his knees on the dance floor, clutched Gerald’s hand and sobbed: ‘Don’t go! Take me with you — don’t leave me here!’ Gerald, furious, pulled away. ‘This is not Princeton, and I’m not your roommate,’ he said curtly.58

Despite Gerald’s chastisement, Scott continued to ask him for literary advice and pester him with intimate questions.59 Scott was desperate to live inside Gerald’s skin, but though he hero-worshipped Gerald he never understood him. Zelda, watching, empathizing, rarely asking questions, understood Gerald much better. Though Sara chided Scott for his appalling behaviour she also acknowledged: ‘He always realized when he had gone too far — & was sorry and mortified — not always, I am sorry to say, till much later … but he did feel badly about it.’60

Scott had what the biographer Scott Donaldson calls a ‘severe crush’ on Sara as well as Gerald. Gerald believed Scott was ‘sentimentally disturbed’ by Sara.61 But what lay underneath Scott’s idolization of the Murphys was their Eastern establishment privilege, their self-assurance.

A tricky area for Zelda was Sara Murphy’s adoration for Ernest, which contrasted with her intermittent irritation with Scott. Sara would not hear a disparaging word about Hemingway, even from Zelda. Both Murphys reinforced Gertrude Stein’s boundless admiration for Hemingway’s work.62 After reading an unfinished manuscript of The Sun Also Rises, Gerald wrote to Hadley: ‘We read it the other day and were blown out of the water alive.’ To Ernest himself, Gerald said: ‘Those God-damn stories of yours kept me rooted and goggle-eyed all the way to Germany the other day … My God, but you’ve kept your promise with yourself.’63 The Murphys’ greater respect for Friend Ernest over Friend Scott stemmed from the fact that Hemingway rarely allowed anything to interfere with his promise whilst Scott did so constantly.

In contrast to his own disreputable antics, Scott kept an orderly eye on Scottie’s, exercised strict overall control and cut Zelda out: a system he maintained throughout Scottie’s youth. Scottie’s least pleasant memory about life in France was Scott’s insistence on catechism class every Sunday. ‘Daddy made me go even though he no longer believed in the Catholic faith, but his family did and he feared that they might be offended if I wasn’t brought up in the Church.’64

Zelda was offered only the role of creative games inventor or designer of unusual dolls. Her exclusion may have been another underlying cause for their escalating rows. Sara Murphy said it was obvious when quarrels reached a climax, for Zelda’s trunk could be seen in the courtyard. A day later she would heave the trunk back upstairs. Sara emphasized Zelda’s loyalty. She never spoke to the Murphys or other friends about their marital battles. ‘It did upset her to hear Scott scolded or criticized — she flew to his defense & backed him up in everything — If Scott … pretended to make love publicly — or even once drove a taxicab away, leaving the driver behind, she would only chuckle indulgently.’65

Then matters deteriorated. Zelda told Mayfield that after a few drinks Scott would become truculent. In one drunken rage he struck her and Zelda told Sara she ‘was physically afraid of him in his manic states’. Scott defended himself later by demanding of a group of male friends: ‘Is there any man present who can honestly say he has never hit his wife in anger?’66

Zelda’s repressed anger appeared to result in a further distancing from people. Sara Murphy said: ‘I don’t believe she liked very many people although her manners to everyone were perfect.’67

As their lives became more unruly, Zelda clung obsessively to personal cleanliness and order. That year Sara Murphy felt Zelda was even fresher and ‘more exquisite’: ‘She was so beautiful always — glossy dark-gold hair and her delicate “Indian” face, and a fresh little cotton dress every day — cleanliness and order were a sort of fetish with her.’68 Nathan recalls her as ‘resolutely fastidious’ but says it was because ‘Scott would have it no other way’.69

In August 1925 the Fitzgeralds went to Antibes, where the Murphys had moved into their fourteen-room Villa America high above the beach of La Garoupe. Scott, fascinated by the villa’s Moorish style, admired Gerald’s success in scraping away the seaweed so that visitors could swim. Dinner parties were held on the flagstone terrace shaded by a linden tree. Waxed black tile floors contrasted with sheer white walls and gleaming chrome furniture. Black satin covered the chair seats. Tangerines, lemons and olives crowded the orchard near Sara’s herb garden. The fragrance of eucalyptus and mimosa wafted through cedar trees and palms. The Murphys used a small Provencal farmhouse for guests, Gerald had a painting studio and seven-year-old Honoria entertained her brothers, Scottie and Fanny Myers in her playhouse.

Scott needed solitude to work on his new novel, then called Our Type, later The Boy Who Killed His Mother, based, he told Perkins, on the Leopold — Loeb murder. But he also confessed to Perkins: ‘it is about Zelda & me & the hysteria of last May and June in Paris. (Confidential).’70

There was however to be no solitude on the Riviera, as Scott’s name-dropping letter to Bishop illustrates:

There was no one at Antibes this summer except me, Zelda, the Valentino, the Murphy’s, Mistinguet, Rex Ingram, Dos Passos, Alice Terry, the Mclieshes, Charlie Bracket, Maude Kahn, Esther Murphy, Marguerite Namara, E. Phillips Openhiem, Mannes the violinist, Floyd Dell, Max and Chrystal Eastman, ex-Premier Orlando, Ettienne de Beaumont …71

Scott’s list (from which only the Hemingways, away in Spain, were missing) depicts the cultural invasion that was about to turn Antibes into an international playground.

In Antibes Zelda, though frequently ill, provided entertainments for Scottie. When the child said she’d like to get married, Zelda staged a wedding. Little Scottie wore a white dress and veil and carried a bridal bouquet. Scott gave her away and bought her ring. ‘Not a real diamond,’ Scottie complained, ‘it was from the five-and-dime store’. Zelda produced a wedding cake, then sent her on a honeymoon ride along the Mediterranean coast in a car decorated with streamers and fresh flowers.72

Though Scottie’s childhood was torn with rows, a drunken father and later a sick absent mother, memories like these meant she determinedly recalled it as ‘romantic’.73 Legend says Scottie was ‘untouched by marital conflicts’ but Scottie’s daughter, Eleanor Lanahan, says this was merely Scottie’s defence which she maintained throughout her life.74 Playing these children’s games, Zelda and Scott too lived for a time in a magical world.

Then one evening in August a disturbing incident occurred. The Fitzgeralds dined with the Murphys at an inn in St Paul de Vence in the mountains above Nice. The dining terrace was built 200 feet above the valley with a sheer drop from the outside walls of the terrace. Gerald sat in front of a flight of ten stone steps. Isadora Duncan, at forty-six somewhat heavy, with dyed red hair, was dining at a nearby table. When Gerald alerted Scott to her presence, he rushed over and knelt at Duncan’s feet while she ran her fingers through his hair and called him her centurion. The Murphys later told Mayfield that when Duncan indicated to Scott he might visit her that night Zelda showed no resentment, but watched them silently for several minutes. Then suddenly she leapt from her chair, sprang across the table, across Gerald and flung herself down the stone steps. ‘I was sure she was dead,’ Gerald said. ‘We were all stunned and motionless.’ In fact Zelda reappeared within moments, standing still at the top of the steps. Sara ran to her and wiped the blood from her knees and dress. Gerald recalls thinking that, strangely, this violent incident had not appeared ugly: yet another example of Zelda’s style which meant no matter what she did, she did it without vulgarity.75 Mayfield’s analysis was that ‘if Zelda’s eyes wandered, Scott’s pride prompted him to attack her and the man to whom she was attracted; but if Zelda’s amour propre was wounded by Scott’s attentions to other women, she wanted only to destroy herself.’76

Scott’s Ledger entry for August 1925 is laconic. He simply notes the name ‘Eleanor Duncan’, then scrawls out ‘Eleanor’ and replaces it with ‘Isadora’. When Scott noted the Jozan incident he constantly misspelled the man’s name. This time he casually gets the name entirely wrong and just as casually corrects it. In both cases Scott’s use of language serves to minimize or gloss over a dangerous event.

Self-destructive actions on Zelda’s part began to pepper meetings between the Fitzgeralds and Murphys. Gerald believed neither of the Fitzgeralds wanted ‘ordinary pleasures, they hardly noticed good food or wines, but they did want something to happen’.77

On the Riviera Zelda and Scott became even closer to the Murphys and the MacLeishes. When the Fitzgeralds left for Paris in September, Gerald, forgiving Scott all lapses, wrote: ‘There really was a great sound of tearing heard in the land as your train pulled out that day. Sara and I rode back together saying things about you both to each other which only partly expressed what we felt separately … Most people are dull, without distinction and without value, even humanely … you two belong so irrevocably to that rare race of people who are valuable.’78

This wildly generous letter stands as a witness to the good feelings both Zelda and Scott aroused in others, despite the tensions between them as a couple. Zelda’s verdict on Antibes came in a letter to her friend Madeleine Boyd: ‘We went to Antibes to recuperate but all we recooped was drinking hours. Now, once again, the straight and narrow path goes winding and wobbling before us and Scott is working.’79 But that winter was not all work. The Murphys came to Paris at the end of September and saw the Fitzgeralds daily. In November the Fitzgeralds visited London and saw Tallulah Bankhead as the heroine in Michael Arlen’s hit play The Green Hat.80 Zelda wrote to Scottie: ‘We went to London to see a fog and saw Tallulah Bankhead, which was, perhaps about the same effect.’81 To Madeleine Zelda was as wittily acid about the playwright: ‘just got back from bloody England where the Michael Arlens grow — hardy annuals it says in the seed catalogues’. Zelda told Madeleine that though in Paris she was ‘not so amiable as I was before living in this seat of sin and literary learning’, she was ‘passing the winter agreeably among plagiarists who are always delightful … Civilization is not what it once was even for authors wives.’82

She did not tell Madeleine that severe stomach illnesses and repressed tensions had brought on a bout of uncontrollable nerves. Scott wrote to Hemingway that Zelda was suffering from ‘a nervous hysteria which is only relieved by a doctor bearing morphine’.83

The Fitzgeralds needed a festive Christmas, and Scott had good news to celebrate. The Saturday Evening Post had raised his fees, New York theatrical producer Owen Davis had taken an option on Gatsby for production next February, Scott had a new short story collection, All The Sad Young Men, also coming out in February,84 and his 1925 earnings totalled $18,333, only $2,000 less than 1924. So Zelda and Nanny decorated the tree with silver garlands, birds with spun-glass tails and cardboard houses shiny with snow, the ornaments they always travelled with. Then, smiling at their prosperity, Zelda, Scott and Scottie posed in a chorus line in front of their tree for one of those immortal photographs they sent their friends. They were still doing high kicks, but they were already falling.


1 EH, ‘Hawks Do Not Share’, Moveable Feast.

2 Zelda herself told Sara that ‘it smelled like a church chancery and was furnished with genuine Louis XV from the Galeries Lafayette’. Mayfield, Exiles, p. 110.

3 Mellow, Hemingway: A Life Without Consequences, p. 291.

4 Ibid.

5 EH to FSF, 1 July, 15 Dec. 1925, EH, Selected Letters, pp. 165, 177.

6 Honoria Murphy Donnelly with Richard N. Billings, Sara and Gerald, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, New York, 1982, p. 21.

7 Mayfield, Exiles, p. 137; ZSF to MP, 1926, CO101, Box 53, Folder Zelda Fitzgerald, 1921–1944, PUL.

8 Mayfield, Exiles, pp. 137, 113.

9 Ibid., p. 141.

10 Mellow, Hemingway, p. 290.

11 Quoted by Richard N. Billings, Donnelly and Billings, Sara and Gerald, p. 21.

12 EH to FSF, 28 May 1934, EH, Selected Letters, p. 408.

13 Mayfield, Exiles, p. 141.

14 Matthew J. Bruccoli, Scott and Ernest: The Authority of Failure and the Authority of Success, Random House, New York, 1978, p. 22.

15 Honoria Murphy Donnelly to the author, New York, 1998.

16 Mayfield, Exiles, p. 115.

17 Mizener, Far Side of Paradise, p. 220.

18 They even had identical toys: cuddly baby dolls, china tea sets and miniature air rifles.

19 Mellow, Hemingway, p. 104.

20 Ibid., p. 20.

21 Hemingway’s father committed suicide in 1928. In later years Hemingway said ‘I hate her guts and she hates mine. She forced my father to suicide.’ Ibid., p. 565.

22 Ibid., p. 297.

23 Mayfield, Exiles, pp. 141, 140.

24 Mellow, Hemingway, p. 294. Later Hemingway claimed that Jinnie had tried to convert Pauline (then his second wife) to the lesbian cause.

25 Mayfield, Exiles, p. 106.

26 This draft was possibly for use in Moveable Feast.

27 Mayfield, Exiles, 107.

28 Ibid., pp. 138–9.

29 Hadley Hemingway (Mrs Paul Scott Mowrer) to Milford, 25 July 1964, Milford, Zelda, p. 115.

30 Ibid.

31 Hadley fell from a second storey window and her damaged back required months of bed-rest.

32 Bernice Kert, The Hemingway Women, W. W. Norton, New York, 1983, p. 86.

33 Ibid., pp. 94, 96.

34 Her mother had left her a modest amount and her grandmother had left her a capital account that yielded an income of $2,500 a year.

35 Hadley Hemingway to Milford, 25 July 1964, Milford, Zelda, p. 116.

36 Hadley like Hemingway felt this led Zelda into flirtations to attract Scott’s notice.

37 EH, Moveable Feast, pp. 181–3.

38 Hadley Hemingway to Milford, 25 July 1964, Milford, Zelda, p. 117.

39 Artist Kitty Cannell, girlfriend of Harold Loeb, who introduced Pauline and Jinnie Pfeiffer to the Hemingways, quoted in Mellow, Hemingway, pp. 295, 296.

40 Noel Murphy’s other reason was that she had formed an attachment to Natalie’s friend Janet Flanner, the New Yorker correspondent. Amanda Vaill, So Young, p. 157.

41 Though Zelda later worked in oils on canvas, much of her surviving artwork is in this smaller medium at which she excelled. One problem was that its fragile nature limited the time those works could be on display, and there existed in the 1920s, and still exists today, an unspoken hierarchy in the art world which privileges paintings on canvas over works on paper. Carolyn Shafer, Introduction, ‘To Spread a Human Aspiration’, 1994.

42 Larionov had been painting in Paris since 1914. He designed the set for The Merchants Garden, 1921, and a sketch for the curtain of Chout, 1921. Shafer is interesting on the connection between his work and Zelda’s in the mid-1920s. ‘To Spread a Human Aspiration’, p. 23.

43 Shafer expounds this point.

44 Murphy, Razor, 32” ? 36”. Exhibited: Salon des Independants 1923: Berheim Jeune 1936; Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts 1960, Collection of Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts.

45 Mayfield, Exiles, pp. 104–5.

46 Sara Murphy to Mizener, 17 Jan. 1950.

47 In fall 1925 Scott lent Hemingway $400, the following April he sent him $100 in a letter telling Ernest that Hollywood had just purchased the rights to Gatsby for $15,000. Because of Hadley’s modest income the Hemingways were not dependent on Ernest’s income from stories or journalism.

48 Mayfield, Exiles, p. 112.

49 Though Hemingway had many male friends, in almost every case he later broke off those friendships. He resented and never forgave friends like the Murphys and Fitzgerald who had helped him financially. Hadley said: ‘Once he took a dislike to someone you could absolutely never get him back [to them]. If he took exception to anyone, mat was it; there was no reasoning with him about it. He eventually turned on almost everyone we knew, all his old friends.’ Hadley Hemingway to Milford, 25 July 1964, Milford, Zelda, p. 116.

50 Donaldson, Hemingway vs. Fitzgerald, p. 61.

51 It was published in Redbook Magazine Jan., Feb. 1926.

52 FSF to Ludlow Fowler, c. Mar. 1925, CO188, Box 4, Folders 22–3, PUL.

53 FSF, All The Sad Young Men, pp. 1–2.

54 FSF mentions this twice (Ledger, June and July 1925). Among the people they met that summer were Edith Wharton, Theodore Chanler, Robert McAlmon, Sylvia Beach, William L. Shirer, Harold Stearns, James Thurber, Deems Taylor.

55 FSF to ZSF, c. summer 1930, Life in Letters, p. 187.

56 Fanny Myers Brennan to the author, New York, 1998.

57 Mayfield, Exiles, p. 113.

58 Ellen Barry interview, Vaill, So Young, p. 155.

59 Scott even got Gerald to demonstrate how to do handstands then walk the length of a room upside down, a trick he had learned from his father.

60 Sara Murphy to Mizener, 17 Jan. 1950.

61 Donaldson, Hemingway vs. Fitzgerald, p. 88.

62 Gerald felt that Ernest’s desire to strip away ornamentation in his writing and produce a honed simple language reflected a similar goal in his own paintings.

63 Donnelly and Billings, Sara and Gerald, p. 21.

64 Scott’s discipline broke down however if Scottie did something he approved of. One day he had told her to go to bed as a punishment. When he walked in to check, she was reading: ‘he took the book away and started reading it himself. He decided it was good literature, and gave it back to me to finish.’ Scottie to Honoria Murphy Donnelly; Donnelly to the author, 1997 and 1998.

65 Sara Murphy to Mizener, 17 Jan. 1950.

66 Mayfield, Exiles, p. 118.

67 Sara Murphy to Mizener, 17 Jan. 1950.

68 Ibid.

69 Nathan thought it was a hangover from Scott’s undergraduate days when ‘he sent out questionnaires to prospective feminine dates as to 1) whether they had their hair washed during the day, and 2) how many baths they had taken.’ Nathan, ‘Memories of Fitzgerald, Lewis and Dreiser’, Esquire, Oct. 1958.

70 FSF to MP, 28 Aug. 1925, Dear Scott/Dear Max, p. 120. In 1924 University of Chicago students Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb kidnapped and slew fourteen-year-old Robert Franks. After they confessed they were defended by Clarence Darrow and said in court they had done it for the exhilaration of planning and executing the ‘perfect crime’. Scott admired this as an ‘intellectual murder’.

71 FSF to Bishop, postmarked 21 Sep. 1925, Life in Letters, p. 126.

72 Eleanor Lanahan to the author in conversations 1997, 1998, 1999, Vermont and Asheville, North Carolina.

73 Winzola McLendon, ‘Interview: Frances Scott Fitzgerald to Winzola McLendon’, Ladies Home Journal, New York, Nov. 1974.

74 Eleanor Lanahan to the author in conversations 1997, 1998, 1999.

75 Gerald Murphy to Milford, 26 Apr. 1963, Milford, Zelda, pp. 117–18. Several years later when Zelda wrote about the scene she completely transformed her own part in it. She wrote that she was able to steal two glass automobiles for salt and pepper from the cafe in St Paul. ‘Nobody was looking because Isadora Duncan was giving one of her last parties at the next table. She had got too old and fat to care whether people accepted her theories of life and art, and she gallantly toasted the world’s obliviousness in lukewarm champagne.’ ZSF, ‘Auction — Model 1934’, Collected Writings, p. 434.

76 Mayfield, Exiles, p. 117.

77 Gerald Murphy to Milford, 26 Apr. 1963, Milford, Zelda, p. 118.

78 Gerald Murphy to FSF, 19 Sep. 1925, CO187, Box 51, Folder 13, PUL.

79 ZSF to Madeleine Boyd, wife of the critic Ernest Boyd, 18 Dec. 1925, CO183, Box 5, Folder 1, PUL.

80 They also attended parties given by Tallulah’s friend the Marchioness of Milford Haven and the Mountbattens.

81 ZSF to Scottie Fitzgerald, 1939, CO183, Box 4, PUL.

82 ZSF to Madeleine Boyd, 18 Dec. 1925, CO183, Box 5, Folder 1, PUL.

83 FSF to EH, 30 Nov. 1925, John F. Kennedy Library.

84 Published 26 Feb.


1926 was a year of change and experiment for several of Zelda’s friends, but a year of sickness and danger for Zelda.

In Paris she discovered that three of her close friends also disapproved of Hemingway. Sara Mayfield, studying at the Sorbonne, frequently saw him strolling through the Luxembourg Gardens, Bumby at his hip and Hadley ‘following him as silently as an Indian squaw’, and told Zelda how much she disliked Ernest’s attitude to Hadley.1 Sara Haardt and H. L. Mencken were also furious with him, though for different reasons. Ernest had called Mencken ‘that shit’ and established him and Sara as permanent enemies.2 Both Zelda and Sara Mayfield assumed this was because the Sage had not initially recognized Hemingway’s talents. Though Mencken thought Hemingway ‘knew how to shock women’s clubs with dirty words’ and produced great dialogue, he saw his stories as melodramatic and obvious. At the time Mencken felt that he was ‘challenging, bellicose and not infrequently absurd’. Even later, Mencken wrote: ‘My view of his work was never exalted.’3

Sara Haardt had recovered sufficiently from ill-health to leave Montgomery and divide her time between Baltimore and New York, where she freelanced for the Baltimore Evening Sun, the Virginia Quarterly Review and Mencken’s American Mercury. Though Mencken still encouraged her, she was now well known in her own right. Her professional independence seemed to increase her deep reserve and Mencken mistakenly felt she did not fully care for him. During 1926 their letters became more distant, and with newspaper gossip linking his name with that of the Hollywood actress Aileen Pringle, their romance temporarily wavered.4

Zelda, beset with colitis, was now in worse health than Sara, which put a great strain on her marriage, already shaken by conflicts over Ernest. She was spared further hostile encounters with Hemingway after her decision in January to take the ‘cure’ at Salies-de-Bearn, a health resort in the Basses Pyrenees. In this drowsy spa town they stayed at the Bellevue, where the boarded-up windows were splashed with bird-droppings and the residents according to Scott were ‘two goats and a paralytic’.5 Scott took a photograph of Zelda while she painted, in one hand a brush, in the other the watercolour self-portrait she had begun in 1925. She scribbled underneath it: ‘Portrait of the artist with portrait of the artist’. Several delightful photos show her and Scottie on banks of flowers and swinging in a play area.

During 1926 Zelda again tried vainly to conceive, for despite the rows between them she and Scott were still keen to have a second child. The idea that having more children might improve an ailing marriage is a popular though not necessarily accurate one, in which it seems the Fitzgeralds concurred. The failure to conceive that year was probably a consequence of previous abortions and her unsuccessful 1924 operation in Rome, but Zelda’s distress became connected in her mind with what she deemed Scott’s sexual inadequacies. Zelda would remain intensely emotionally attached to Scott, but sexually their problems were increasing. Scott had always exhibited a rigid Midwestern puritanism in the face of Zelda’s Southern sexual openness. Wit and charm, but not virility, were his strong suits.6

Scott is reputed to have told Hemingway that Zelda had complained his penis was too small to give her satisfaction, a story that has all the hallmarks of an insecure male author’s vivid invention.7 Scott’s apparent lack of imagination over alternative sexual pleasure, or his worsening alcoholism which may have caused occasional impotence, were more likely causes for Zelda’s frustration.

It is worth looking at Hemingway’s tale of Scott’s complaints of rejection because it impacts cleverly on the impression Hemingway was trying to give of Zelda’s unstable mental state.

Scott it seems first naively confessed to Hemingway: ‘You know I never slept with anyone except Zelda.’ Yet in Scott’s account in The Crack-Up he admits that at Princeton in 1917 he slept with prostitutes; and Rosalinde Fuller’s account of his sexual affair with her in 1919 convincingly throws doubt on the assertion that he had never slept with anyone except Zelda. According to Hemingway, Scott continued their conversation by saying: ‘Zelda said that the way I was built I could never make anyone happy and that was what upset her.’ Hemingway’s account records that the two men go off to inspect Scott’s penis in the toilet and are away a long time. At the end of the inspection Hemingway patronizingly reassures his friend: ‘You’re perfectly fine… You are OK. There’s nothing wrong with you.’ In Hemingway’s version Scott then asks pathetically: ‘But why would she say it?’ to which Hemingway responds: ‘To put you out of business … Forget what Zelda said … Zelda is crazy … Zelda just wants to destroy you.’8

There is something curious here. Scott, a man who was extremely wary of intimacies with other men, was unlikely to have exposed and aroused his penis in front of a ‘real man’. Yet without an erection Hemingway’s calculations of penis size, which he terms for posterity ‘A Matter of Measurements’, is meaningless. It is far more likely, then, that the maliciously creative Ernest changed a lunch-table chat into a genital display in the toilets.

This ‘matter’ involves three major ‘measurements’. The first is the magnification of Scott’s confession from a small oral discussion to a mighty washroom performance. The second is the humiliating reduction of the size of Scott’s penis in the minds of readers from what they might have thought of as a usual size (had they thought about it at all) to an image of a tiny childlike member. The third, and by far the most significant, measurement is that of the state of Zelda’s mental health. What Hemingway was indisputably attempting to do was yet again to call Zelda’s emotional stability into question.

In early March 1926, after their return to Paris from Salies-de-Bearn, the Fitzgeralds suddenly decided to go back to the Riviera. They lunched and dined with Hemingway who was returning from New York, where he had successfully — with Scott’s help — negotiated a contract with Maxwell Perkins. He told them he was going to join Hadley and Bumby in Schruns, Austria, for a skiing break, but he did not go directly to see his family. Instead he started an affair in Paris with Sara Murphy’s close friend, Pauline Pfeiffer.9

Pauline, a clever journalist with an original mind, was more intellectually compatible with Ernest than Hadley. After Pauline had praised Ernest’s new book, The Torrents of Spring,10 he decided she was also an excellent literary critic who fitted into the Fitzgerald-Hemingway circle, which included the Murphys, the MacLeishes and Dos Passos, better than Hadley, who had never felt at ease with them. Pauline also had private means,11 much of which she used to tour and stay with the Hemingways, for Hadley saw Pauline as a good friend.12

Though Pauline, a practising Catholic who believed extra-marital sex was a sin, was terrified by the threat of pregnancy, she could not and did not resist Ernest. When Ernest, guilt-ridden, returned to Hadley in Schruns he did not confess nor did she ask any embarrassing questions. But Hadley and Ernest felt deep relief when Dos Passos and the Murphys arrived for a week’s skiing and broke the tension.13 The Murphys, becoming aware of the strained situation, did not overtly criticize Hemingway. Zelda, however, was incensed by Hemingway’s treatment of Hadley, and told Sara Mayfield later she thought it shameful of Hemingway to plan to rejoin the Catholic Church in order to have his marriage to Hadley annulled so he could marry Pauline.14

The Fitzgeralds had arrived at Juan-les-Pins, where for two months from early March they rented the somewhat damp Villa Paquita. During that spring and summer Sara Murphy remembers Zelda as eternally ‘fearless’ in risk-taking swimming stunts. She felt that Zelda was ‘much better than Scott at these things’.15 At a farewell party in Juan for critic Alexander Woollcott Zelda went further in her display of fearless pranks. After the speeches had been made she said boldly: ‘I have been so touched by all these kind words. But what are words? Nobody has offered our departing heroes any gifts to take with them. I’ll start off.’ Then daringly she stepped out of her black lace panties and threw them at the men.16

While Zelda was taking light-hearted risks, Hadley was going through black moments. In late spring, Pauline and her sister Jinnie invited Hadley to tour the Loire Valley. Pauline, patently uneasy, snapped at her nervously without explaining why. Hadley hesitantly asked Jinnie if Ernest was involved. When Jinnie replied that she thought the two were fond of each other, Hadley, shocked, retreated back to Paris, miserable and, like Bumby, suffering from a ferocious cough. She confronted Ernest who, enraged, indicated she shouldn’t have forced the issue. Then he left for Spain to tour the bullfights.

The Murphys had invited both Hemingways to their guesthouse in the grounds of the Villa America in Antibes. Hadley arrived alone with her sick son, grateful for Zelda and Scott’s company and that of the MacLeishes. Bumby was diagnosed with whooping cough and had to be quarantined. As Sara was terrified that her three children would catch it, the Fitzgeralds generously offered Hadley the last six weeks of their lease on Villa Paquita.

In May the Fitzgeralds found a larger, less damp residence, Villa St Louis, near Juan’s casino and beach. It was set among orange and lemon groves with a garden overgrown with pink oleanders, scarlet bougainvillaea and purple clematis.

The Fitzgeralds gave four-year-old Scottie a party and invited Fanny Myers and Baoth, Patrick and Honoria Murphy. Zelda, who had formerly used her artistic skills to help Scott, now employed them to entertain her daughter. With Scott’s help she creatively staged a mock crusaders’ battle in the terraced rock garden of their villa. ‘Zelda must have spent days making the intricate cardboard battlements and [papier mache] castle,’ Gerald said.17 There were turrets, a tower, even a moat along which swam toy ducks. The princess with long blonde hair, wearing a white satin dress, stood at a tower window, her arms raised signalling distress. Was Zelda recreating Scott’s fantasy of her as his princess carefully guarded in a castle? Scott lent his collection of two squadrons of lead soldiers, showed the children how the moats would have flooded during a siege, and captured a large black beetle which he cast as the dragon who guarded the fairy castle. Zelda, who had spent weeks sewing dresses for the princess, her lady-in-waiting and the witch, acted all three parts with verve. Honoria many decades later recalled it as a highlight of her childhood. ‘Zelda and Scott had been going through hard times that summer but we had a beautiful day in their make-believe world. Zelda looked beautiful like a princess and we all cheered.’18

Zelda and Scott drove over to the Hotel du Cap to bring Sara Mayfield, who was staying there, back to Villa St Louis. They told Sara that Hemingway, who had now arrived in Antibes with Pauline, had lent them his manuscript of The Sun Also Rises. When Sara asked what the novel was about, Zelda scoffed: ‘Bullfighting, bullslinging, and bull[sh]…’ Scott cut her short: ‘Zelda! Don’t say things like that.’ Zelda retorted: ‘Why shouldn’t I?’ Scott, now very angry, growled: ‘Say anything you please, but lay off Ernest.’ Sara watched Zelda become increasingly furious: ‘Try and make me!’ she retorted.19

Zelda objected to the fact that since his arrival in Juan, Hemingway came daily to Villa St Louis, where Scott offered Ernest constructive criticisms on his manuscript while severely neglecting his own. During the last year Scott had sold only five stories and had made little progress on his novel. Sara Mayfield said ‘Zelda blamed Hemingway for Scott’s sprees in Paris as well as for interrupting his work in Juan-les-Pins.’20

When the Fitzgeralds’ lease was up at Villa Paquita, which they had lent to Ernest and Hadley, Pauline came to the Hemingways’ rescue by renting two rooms at the Hotel de la Pineda in Juan and inviting Hadley and Ernest to be her guests. The intense trio became the focus of Zelda and Scott’s gossip. Pauline, an early riser, dressed in tomboy pyjamas, would knock on the Hemingways’ door and rush in, unconcerned that Hadley and Ernest slept only in pyjama tops. Pauline ‘without her bottoms’ soon tumbled into bed with them. Initially Hadley was distressed, but relaxed when Pauline gave equally affectionate embraces to her and Ernest. One day on the beach where the trio at Pauline’s suggestion swam naked while Zelda and Scott swam in suits, Pauline told Hadley she was as much in love with her as with Ernest. She hoped the way the three of them were in bed could continue for ever. Desperate to save her marriage, Hadley suggested it to Ernest. To Hadley’s surprise, though not to Zelda’s, Ernest strongly declined. He reminded Hadley of Pauline’s convent upbringing where girls unthinkingly indulged in displays of affection which meant nothing. They were a substitute until ‘the real thing’ came along. Ernest believed he was the real thing.21

In June Scott wrote to Perkins that they were making a quick trip to Paris to have Zelda’s appendix removed on the 25th. Whether this was the precise nature of Zelda’s operation is in dispute. According to Mayfield, who talked to Scott, ‘having her appendix removed’ was a ‘euphemistic description of the operation’ which she implied was another abortion.22 At first glance Sara’s belief does not appear to tally with the well-documented view that Zelda was extremely keen to become pregnant again. But Scott’s Ledger for June 1926 states ‘Operation’ but not ‘appendix’, whereas an entry seven months later in January 1927 records ‘appendix’. This would add to Sara’s evidence that it was another abortion. One other entry is of interest. For many months Zelda had been under Dr Gros’s care for her gynaecological problems, but in late May 1926 just before the operation, and for its purpose only, she switched to Dr Gluck, a new man, whom she never saw again.

During Zelda’s stay at the American Hospital in Neuilly, Scott accidentally met Sara Mayfield in the ladies’ bar of the Paris Ritz.23 As soon as Scott saw the writer Michael Arlen with Sara he left his Princetonian companions and joined them. Aware that Arlen’s book The Green Hat was currently outselling The Great Gatsby, Scott patronizingly told Arlen he would probably be his successor as the most popular novelist of the day. Arlen winced at the backhanded compliment, then made the mistake of criticizing Hemingway’s In Our Time. Scott jumped angrily to Ernest’s defence, called Arlen ‘a finished second-rater that’s jealous of a coming first-rater’. When Sara had calmed him down Scott insisted that she accompany him to visit Zelda in hospital because ‘it would cheer her up to see someone from home’.24

However, before they reached the hospital Scott insisted they stopped at Harry’s New Bar to check if Hemingway was back from Pamplona where he had taken the Murphys to the bullfighting fiesta. Unable to find a cab, Scott commandeered a hearse to take them to his apartment to rescue books for Zelda. He toured Sara around in the hearse, becoming steadily drunker and more argumentative until finally it was too late to visit Zelda.

In Pamplona the Murphys, watching bulls being gored, also watched an anxious Hadley and a tense Pauline move uncertainly in Ernest’s wake. After the Spanish trip Hemingway made a decision and called on the Murphys at Villa America to tell them he had asked Hadley for a divorce.

Both Gerald and Sara, despite their traditional view of marriage for themselves, took Ernest’s side. They even offered him Gerald’s studio on rue Froidevaux in Paris. Sara thought Hadley had been wrong to confront Ernest as it had made him feel guilty. Gerald held the odd view that Hemingway’s divorce decision was related to his artistic integrity. Scott told Ernest the news ‘depressed and rather baffled me’.25 Zelda, unlike the rest of their circle, was sympathetic to Hadley and told Sara Mayfield so.

After her operation Zelda’s physical health improved but her mental well-being was shaken. From childhood Zelda had always taken enormous physical risks, but she had done so for fun. Now she took wildness to dangerous extremes in a desperate plea to be noticed.

Early one morning after a party Zelda threw herself down in front of their car and challenged Scott to drive over her.26 During another late party evening at the casino with the Murphys an unforgettable incident occurred. Zelda rose from the table, lifted her skirt above her waist and began to dance. Scott sat motionless, staring at her. The orchestra began to play as she took her first dance steps. Gerald Murphy said: ‘It was spectacular … She was dancing for herself; she didn’t look left or right, or catch anyone’s eyes … not even at Scott. I saw a mass of lace ruffles as she whirled — I’ll never forget it. We were frozen. She had this tremendous natural dignity … so self-possessed, so absorbed in her dance … she was incapable of doing anything unladylike.’27 Sara Murphy said: ‘Her dignity was never lost in the midst of the wildest escapades — Even that time at the casino — at the end of an evening when she danced alone in the middle of the floor — she was cool and aloof; and unconscious of onlookers. No one ever took a liberty with Zelda.’28 She later told Sara Mayfield that no matter what Zelda did, ‘even the wildest, most terrifying things — she always managed to maintain her dignity. She was a good woman, and I’ve never thought she was bad for Scott, as other people have said.’29

Ada MacLeish confirmed that Zelda would ‘do these things … But there was no mirth. No fun. “This is what we do and now I’ll proceed to do it.” Those were the Fitzgerald Evenings which we learned to avoid like the plague. They seemed intent upon living this lurid life; the ordinary evening wasn’t enough.’30

Some nights Scott did not return home at all. Some evenings he filled their villa with strangers abhorrent to Zelda. Ada MacLeish said Zelda was not seen much on the beach and rarely with Scottie, who sat alone with her nanny on the sands.31 Zelda later recalled: ‘I wanted you [Scott] to swim with me at Juan-les-Pins but you liked it better … at the Garoupe with … the Murphys and the MacLeishes … You left me lots alone … I swam with Scottie except when I followed you, mostly unwillingly.’32 Although Zelda’s memory differs slightly from Ada’s, one thing is clear: beneath the Fitzgeralds’ vitality, misery formed the undercurrent.

Gerald described the Fitzgeralds as a ‘pair of conspirators’ who would stay out all night waiting for something to happen. ‘Something had to happen, something extravagant. It was that they were in search of and they went for it alone.’33

During this summer, the most memorable quality was Zelda’s eerie self-absorption. Ada recalled how distant she was, how often a strange small smile would flit over her face, how she displayed not a vestige of humour.34

If Zelda’s aloof actions awed their friends, Scott’s over-intimate actions irritated them. His worst habit of asking personal questions intensified. Ada MacLeish remembers an evening when suddenly Scott began to trail two young men round the dance floor asking if they were fairies. One of them was Ada’s dance partner.35

Scott, who had once enchanted the Murphys, now annoyed them. He seemed incapable of leaving them alone, having a most particular absorption with Sara. He would stare at her across the dinner table, then if she momentarily ignored him would shout: ‘Sara, look at me.’36 One day in a taxi with Sara and Zelda he stuffed filthy hundred-franc bank notes into his mouth.37 Even more obsessed with hygiene than Zelda, Sara, who washed coins before handing them to her children, was appalled.38 Gerald was convinced Scott was ‘in love with her. She fascinated him, her directness and frankness were something he’d never run into before in a woman.’ Sara, not attracted by Scott’s pretty, boyish looks, scoffed at the notion. ‘He was in love with all women,’ she told a friend years later. ‘He was sort of a masher, you know, he’d try to kiss you in taxis … But what’s a little kiss between friends?’39

Zelda observed that Scott seemed determined to behave at his worst before their friends. In June 1926 when the Murphys gave a stylish party for Hemingway, Scott became so jealous of the attention guests were paying to Ernest he threw ashtrays at other tables, roundly abused Gerald, then goaded him until their urbane host left his own party in disgust. At a dinner given by the Murphys to honour the Princess Chimay, Scott first threw a ripe fig down the back of the princess’s decolletage, then began to throw Sara’s delicate handblown Venetian glasses over the edge of their terraced garden. After the first two Gerald banished him, though not Zelda, from their villa for three weeks.

Finally the Murphys could bear no more of Scott’s impertinent questions and crude scrutiny of their personal life. Sara wrote disapprovingly: ‘you can’t expect anyone to like or stand a Continual feeling of analysis + sub-analysis + criticism — on the whole unfriendly — Such as we have felt for quite a while. It is … quite unpleasant… + Gerald, for one, simply curls up at the edges … It’s hardly likely that I should Explain Gerald, — or Gerald me — to you. If you don’t know what people are like it’s your loss.’ Sara added acutely: ‘it is more probably some theory you have, — (it may be something to do with the book). — But you ought to know at your age that you Can’t have Theories about friends — If you Can’t take friends largely, + without suspicion — then they are not friends at all —.’ At their age and stage in life she and Gerald could not be bothered with Sophomoric situations. ‘We are very simple people … and we are literally + actually fond of you both — (There is no reason for saying this that I know of — unless we meant it.)’40

Zelda, aware of Scott’s appalling behaviour, did acknowledge the Murphys’ deep affection. But her passionate loyalty to Scott in public never allowed her to side with the Murphys, whom she saw as their joint friends. Her private concerns about her own relationship with Scott were hinted at only to Rosalind or to her friend Sara Mayfield.

That summer was indisputably one of turmoil, yet when any of their circle rewrote that summer in their memoirs it became one of gaiety, entertainment and high-spirited dissipation. Even Zelda wrote to Perkins that it had been a fine season, filled with gay and decorative people who offered Antibes a ‘sense of carnival’, though she did add with honesty, ‘and impending disaster’.41

After two and a half years abroad, the Fitzgeralds had saved no money; their domestic life had disintegrated; their daughter, though loved by them both, was not well parented; Scott had become an acknowledged alcoholic who had hardly written for over a year; Zelda had started purposefully to paint, but Scott saw this as frivolous. Zelda moreover still relied on Scott, the ‘expert’, to validate her work.

Sara Mayfeld said Zelda ‘now realized clearly that her marriage was headed for the rocks … she was plainly tired of being a successful novelist’s wife, who provided the copy for his stories and books … she wanted to make a life of her own, to achieve … intellectual and financial independence.’42

But Zelda was having more profound conflicts than Sara recognized. In an interview with a journalist Zelda remarked that she hoped Scottie would grow up to be a flapper, ‘because flappers are brave and gay and beautiful’, rather than a career woman, because careers call for ‘hard work, intellectual pessimism and loneliness’.43 This shows clearly the extent to which Zelda was still engaged with the destructive image created for her by Scott, which she tried to live up to at great cost to her self-identity.

These years, 1925 and 1926, were critical for Zelda’s self-development despite a deteriorating marriage and constant ill-health. It is possible that the time she spent on her own because of these two factors allowed her an increased measure of artistic growth.

The Fitzgeralds had rushed away from the wild distractions of New York to seek refuge in Paris. Now they were returning to America to flee the profligacy and recklessness of France.

They sailed in December 1926 on the liner Conte Biancamano to discover that Ludlow Fowler and his young wife, Elsie Blatchford of Winnetka, Illinois, were fellow-passengers. Zelda took Ludlow aside and said gravely: ‘Now Ludlow, take it from an old souse like me — don’t let drinking get you in the position it’s gotten Scott if you want your marriage to be any good.’44 Only six years earlier Fowler had been best man at Zelda’s wedding. Now he stood with her watching the waves and witnessing her disillusion. Zelda’s later recollection was in line with her remark to Fowler: ‘we were back in America — further apart than ever before.’45 Not even Christmas in her beloved Montgomery could repair the damage.


1 Mayfield, Exiles, p. 108.

2 EH to Harold Loeb, 5 Jan. 1925, EH, Selected Letters, p. 143.

3 Mencken, My Life as Author and Editor, p. 261.

4 Rodgers (ed.), Introduction, Mencken and Sara, pp. 8–9.

5 FSF to Henry Albert Phillips, winter 1926.

6 As a Southern woman friend from West Virginia said: ‘I’m afraid Scott just wasn’t a very lively male animal,’ comparing him unfavourably with her more physically satisfying Southern beaux. Elizabeth Beckwith MacKie, ‘My Friend Scott Fitzgerald’, Fitzgerald-Hemingway Annual 2 (1970), pp. 20–21.

7 In 1935 Scott told an Asheville prostitute that he had once discussed his penis size with Hemingway.

8 EH, Moveable Feast, pp. 188–9. These points offer clear evidence that Hemingway’s account teems with inaccuracies and misalignments.

9 Initially Ernest had been attracted to Pauline’s sister Jinnie with her rapier wit and aristocratic means. Jinnie was amused at Ernest’s attention but her own was already turned towards women.

10 Torrents ironically is a satire about a man hesitantly trying to change an older woman for a more vital younger one.

11 Pauline’s father, who had made a fortune on the St Louis grain exchange and was one of the wealthiest landowners in north-eastern Arkansas, gave her an income to travel freely.

12 Hadley invited Pauline to spend Christmas at Schruns with her and Ernest.

13 When Gerald Murphy confessed to the athletic Ernest that he had been scared up the slopes, Hemingway famously explained that Gerald had exhibited true courage: ‘grace under pressure’. Later Gerald told his daughter Honoria that like their friends who basked in Ernest’s approval he had felt childishly elated (Honoria Murphy Donnelly to the author, 1998; Honoria Murphy Donnelly with Richard N. Billings, Sara and Gerald, p. 22). The events surrounding this oft-quoted phrase, ‘grace under pressure’, may be different from Honoria and Gerald’s story. A second version is that Scott heard it first from Hemingway and retold it to Murphy when they discussed Hemingway’s passion for bullfighting. Hemingway said that he had not been referring to courage but to something he called ‘grace under pressure’. A third version is that Hemingway used the phrase when Dorothy Parker asked him what he meant by ‘guts’ in an interview for the New Yorker (30 Nov. 1929). This could merely add up to the fact that Hemingway re-used a good phrase as often as possible.

14 Mayfield, Exiles, p. 113.

15 Sara Murphy to Arthur Mizener, 17 Jan. 1950. Letter lent to the author by Honoria Murphy Donnelly.

16 Meyers, Scott Fitzgerald, p. 161.

17 Honoria Murphy Donnelly and Fanny Myers Brennan described the incident to the author in New York in 1998 and 1999. Earlier Gerald Murphy had described it to Nancy Milford, 2 Mar. 1964, Milford, Zelda, p. 106.

18 Honoria Murphy Donnelly to the author, summer 1998.

19 Mayfield, Exiles, p. 112.

20 Ibid., p. 113.

21 Peter Griffin, Less Than A Treason: Hemingway in Paris, Oxford University Press, New York, 1990, pp. 142, 144.

22 Mayfield, Exiles, p. 109.

23 Mayfield was having cocktails with Rene Herrera, son of the Spanish ambassador to the US, and Michael Arlen, the fashionable British writer of The Green Hat, the play Zelda had seen and mocked in London.

24 Mayfield, Exiles, p. 109.

25 FSF to EH, fall 1926, John F. Kennedy Library.

26 Mayfield, Exiles, p. 116.

27 Gerald Murphy to Milford, 26 Apr. 1963, Milford, Zelda, p. 120.

28 Mayfield to Mizener, 17 Jan. 1950.

29 Mayfield, Exiles, p. 115.

30 Ada MacLeish to Milford, 11 Mar. 1965, Milford, Zelda, p. 121.

31 Ibid., p. 120.

32 ZSF to FSF, late summer/early fall, 1930, Life in Letters, pp. 192–3.

33 Gerald Murphy to Milford, 26 Apr. 1963, Milford, Zelda, p. 121.

34 Ada MacLeish to Milford, 11 Mar. 1965, Milford, Zelda, pp. 120–1.

35 Ibid., p. 120.

36 Honoria Murphy Donnelly to the author, 1998; Calvin Tomkins’ notes, Honoria Murphy Donnelly Collection.

37 Calvin Tomkins, Living Well, p. 101.

38 Vaill, So Young, p. 155.

39 Gerald and Sara Murphy to Calvin Tomkins, 1961, Tomkins interview tapes, Honoria Murphy Donnelly Collection; also Honoria Murphy Donnelly to the author, 1998.

40 Sara Murphy to FSF, June 1926, CO187, Box 51, Folder 15, PUL.

41 ZSF to MP, c. Nov. 1926, CO101, Box 53, Folder Zelda Fitzgerald, 1921–1944, PUL.

42 Mayfield, Exiles, pp. 117–18.

43 Milford, Zelda, pp. 125–6.

44 Turnbull, Scott Fitzgerald, p. 168.

45 ZSF to FSF, late summer/early fall 1930, Life in Letters, p. 193.

Next: Part 4