Letters To F. Scott Fitzgerald
by Zelda Fitzgerald

The Fitzgeralds were rarely apart between their marriage in 1920 and the time of her hospitalization in 1930. Except for a few courtship pieces, her letters to him perforce provide a record of her illness. Although the clinic communications are sometimes recriminative, they document the intensity of emotion that the Fitzgeralds generated about each other.

These letters were previously collected in Correspondence of F. Scott Fitzgerald, ed. Bruccoli and Margaret M. Duggan (New York: Random House, 1980). The texts have not been emended; they are printed as written.

Spring 1919
AL, 4 pp. Princeton University
Montgomery, Alabama


Darling, darling    I love you so—To-day seems like Easter, and I wish we were together walking slow thru the sunshine and the crowds from Church—Everything smells so good and warm, and your ring shines so white in the sun—like one of the church lillies with a little yellow dust on it—We ought to be together this Spring—It seems made for us to love in—

You can’t imagine what havoc the ring wrought—A whole dance was completely upset last night—Everybody thinks its lovely—and I am so proud to be your girl—to have everybody know we are in love—It’s so good to know you’re always loving me—and that before long we’ll be together for all our lives—

The Ohio troops have started a wild and heated correspondence with Montgomery damsels—From all I can gather, the whole 37th Div will be down in May—Then I guess the butterflies will flitter a trifle more—It seems dreadfully peculiar not to be worried over the prospects of the return of at least three or four fiancees—My brain is stagnating owing to the lack of scraps—I havent had to exercise it in so long—

Sweetheart, I love you most of all the earth—and I want to be married soon—soon—Lover—Don’t say I’m not enthusiastic—You ought to know—

Spring 1919
AL, 8 pp. Princeton University
Montgomery, Alabama

Scott, my darling lover—everything seems so smooth and restful, like this yellow dusk. Knowing that I’ll always be yours—that you really own me—that nothing can keep us apart—is such a relief after the strain and nervous excitement of the last month. I’m so glad you came—like Summer, just when I needed you most—and took me back with you. Waiting doesn’t seem so hard now. The vague despondency has gone—I love you Sweetheart.

Why did you buy the “best at the Exchange”?—I’d rather have had 10? a quart variety—I wanted it just to know you loved the sweetness—To breathe and know you loved the smell—I think I like breathing twilit gardens and moths more than beautiful pictures or good books—It seems the most sensual of all the sences—Something in me vibrates to a dusky, dreamy smell—a smell of dying moons and shadows—

I’ve spent to-day in the grave-yard—It really isn’t a cemetery, you know—trying to unlock a rusty iron vault built in the side of the hill. It’s all washed and covered with weepy, watery blue flowers that might have grown from dead eyes—sticky to touch with a sickening odor—The boys wanted to get in to test my nerve—to-night—I wanted to feel “William Wreford, 1864.” Why should graves make people feel in vain? I’ve heard that so much, and Grey is so convincing, but somehow I can’t find anything hopeless in having lived—All the broken columnes and clasped hands and doves and angels mean romances and in an hundred years I think I shall like having young people speculate on whether my eyes were brown or blue—of cource, they are neither—I hope my grave has an air of many, many years ago about it—Isn’t it funny how, out of a row of Confederate soldiers, two or three will make you think of dead lovers and dead loves—when they’re exactly like the others, even to the yellowish moss? Old death is so beautiful—so very beautiful—We will die together—I know—


1. Fitzgerald had bought a bottle of liquor at the Exchange Hotel when he visited her.

2. Fitzgerald used this graveyard description in This Side of Paradise.

February 1920
ALS, 4 pp. Princeton University
Montgomery, Alabama


I wanted to for your sake, because I know what a mess I’m making and how inconvenient it’s all going to be—but I simply can’t and won’t take those awful pills—so I’ve thrown them away      I’d rather take carbolic acid. You see, as long as I feel that I had the right, I don’t much mind what happens—and besides, I’d rather have a whole family than sacrifice my self-respect. They just seem to place everything on the wrong basis—and I’d feel like a damned whore if I took even one, so you’ll try to understand, please Scott—and do what you think best—but don’t do ANYTHING till we know because God—or something—has always made things right, and maybe this will be.

I love you, Darling Scott, and you love me, and we can be thankful for that anyway—

Thanks for the book—I don’t like it—

Zelda Sayre

1. She was not pregnant.

February 1920
AL, 6 pp. Princeton University
Montgomery, Alabama

Darling Heart, our fairy tale is almost ended, and we’re going to marry and live happily ever afterward just like the princess in her tower who worried you so much—and made me so very cross by her constant recurrence— I’m so sorry for all the times I’ve been mean and hateful—for all the miserable minutes I’ve caused you when we could have been so happy. You deserve so much—so very much—

I think our life together will be like these last four days— and I do want to marry you—even if you do think I “dread” it—I wish you hadn’t said that—I’m not afraid of anything—To be afraid a person has either to be a coward or very great and big. I am neither. Besides, I know you can take much better care of me than I can, and I’ll always be very, very happy with you—except sometimes when we engage in our weekly debates—and even then I rather enjoy myself. I like being very calm and masterful, while you become emotional and sulky. I don’t care whether you think so or not—I do.

There are 3 more pictures I unearthed from a heap of debris under my bed—Our honored mother had disposed of ’em for reasons of her own, but personally I like the attitude of my emaciated limbs, so I solicit your approval. Only I waxed artistic, and ruined one—

Sweetheart—I miss you so—I love you so—and next time I’m going back with you—I’m absolutely nothing without you—Just the doll that I should have been born—You’re a necessity and a luxury and a darling, precious lover—and you’re going to be a husband to your wife—

1. During the early days of their engagement in 1919 she continued to go out with other men, which elicited Fitzgerald’s repeated comment that now he knew why princesses were locked in towers.

2. They had renewed their engagement during Fitzgerald’s recent visits to Montgomery.

June 1930
ALS, 2 pp. Princeton University
Prangins Clinic, Nyon, Switzerland

Dear Scott:

Just at the point in my life when there is no time left me for losing, I am here to incapacitate myself for using what I have learned in such a desperate school—through my own fault and from a complete lack of medical knowledge on a rather esoteric subject. If you could write to Egorowa a friendly impersonal note to find out exactly where I stand as a dancer it would be of the greatest help to me—Remember, this is in no way at all her fault. I would have liked to dance in New York this fall, but where am I going to find again these months that dribble into the beets of the clinic garden? Is it worth it? And once a proper horror for the accidents of life has been instilled into me, I have no intention of joing the group about a corpse. My legs are already flabby and I will soon be like Ada——, huntress of coralled game, I suppose, instead of a human being recompensed for everything by the surety of a comprehension of one manifestation of beauty—Why can’t you write me what you think and want instead of vague attempts at reassurance? If I had work or something it would be so much decenter to try to help each other and make at least a stirrup cup out of this bloody mess.

You have always had so much sympathy for people forced to start over late in life that I should think you could find the generosity to help me amongst your many others—not as you would a child but as an equal.

I want you to let me leave here—You’re wasting time and effort and money to take away the little we both have left. If you think you are preparing me for a return to Alabama you are mistaken, and also if you think that I am going to spend the rest of my life roaming about without happiness or rest or work from one sanatorium to another like Kit you are wrong. Two sick horses might conceivably pull a heavier load than a well one alone. Of cource, if you prefer that I should spend six months of my life under prevailing conditions—my eyes are open and I will get something from that, too, I suppose, but they are tired and unhappy and my head aches always. Won’t you write me a comprehensible letter such as you might write to one of your friends? Every day it gets harder to think or live and I do not understand the object of wasting the dregs of me here, alone in a devastating bitterness.


Please write immediately to Paris about the dancing. I would do it but I think the report will be more accurate if it goes to you—just an opinion as to what value my work is and to what point I could, develop it before it is too late. Of cource, I would go to another school as I know Egorowa would not want to be bothered with me. Thanks.

1. Zelda Fitzgerald suffered a collapse in April 1930, partly caused by her intense efforts to become a professional ballet dancer. In June she became a patient of Dr. Oscar Forel at Prangins Clinic, where she remained until September 1931.

2. Madame Lubov Egorova, her ballet teacher in Paris.

After June 1930
AL, 8 pp. Princeton University
Prangins Clinic, Nyon, Switzerland

Dear Scott:

You said in your letter that I might write when I needed you. For the first time since I went to Malmaison I seem to be about half human-being, capable of focusing my attention and not walking in black horror like I have been for so long. Though I am physically sick and covered with eczema I would like to see you. I’m lonely and do not seem to be able to exist in the world on any terms at all. If you do not want to come maybe Newman would come.

Please don’t write to me about blame. I am tired of rummaging my head to understand a situation that would be difficult enough if I were completely lucid. I cannot arbitrarily accept blame now when I know that in the past I felt none. Anyway, blame doesn’t matter. The thing that counts is to apply the few resources available to turning life into a tenable orderly affair that resembles neither the black hole of Calcutta or Cardinal Ballou’s cage. Of cource, you are quite free to proceed as you think best. If I can ever find the dignity and peace to apply myself, I am sure there must be something to fill the next twenty years of a person who is willing to work for it, so do not feel that you have any obligations toward me, sentimental or otherwise, unless you accept them as freely as you did when I was young and happy and quite different from how I am now—

I am infinitely sorry that I have been ungrateful for your attempts to help me. Try to understand that people are not always reasonable when the world is as unstable and vacillating as a sick head can render it—That for months I have been living in vaporous places peopled with one-dimensional figures and tremulous buildings until I can no longer tell an optical illusion from a reality—that head and ears incessantly throb and roads disappear, until finally I lost all control and powers of judgement and was semi-imbecilic when I arrived here. At least now I can read, and as soon as possible I am going on with some stories I have half done. Won’t you send me “Technique of the Drama” please? I have an enormous desire to try to write a play that I have begun a little.

Scottie has not written but I know she is happy with Madamoiselle. I’m glad you are better. It seems odd that we were once a warm little family—secure in a home—

Thank you for the books—

Was it fun in Paris? Who did you see there and was the Madeleine pink at five o’clock and did the fountains fall with hollow delicacy into the framing of space in the Place de la Concorde, and did the blue creep out from behind the Colonades of the rue de Rivoli through the grill of the Tuileries and was the Louvre gray and metallic in the sun and did the trees hang brooding over the cafes and were there lights at night and the click of saucers and the auto horns that play de Bussey—

I love Paris. How was it?

1. Newman Smith, husband of her sister Rosalind.

2. Cardinal Balue was imprisoned in a cage for six years by Louis XI.

Late summer/early fall 1930
AL, 42 pp. Princeton University
Prangins Clinic, Nyon, Switzerland

Dear Scott:

I have just written to Newman to come here to me. You say that you have been thinking of the past. The weeks since I haven’t slept more than three or four hours, swathed in bandages sick and unable to read so have I.

There was:

The strangeness and excitement of New York, of reporters and furry smothered hotel lobbies, the brightness of the sun on the window panes and the prickly dust of late spring: the impressiveness of the Fowlers and much tea-dancing and my eccentric behavior at Princeton. There were Townsend’s blue eyes and Ludlow’s rubbers and a trunk that exhuded sachet and the marshmallow odor of the Biltmore. There were always Ludow and Townsend and Alex and Bill Mackey and you and me. We did not like women and we were happy. There was Georges appartment and his absinth cock-tails and Ruth Findleys gold hair in his comb, and visits to the “Smart Set” and “Vanity Fair”—a collegiate literary world puffed into wide proportions by the New York papers. There were flowers and night clubs and Ludlow’s advice that moved us to the country. At West Port, we quarrelled over morals once, walking beside a colonial wall under the freshness of lilacs. We sat up all night over “Brass Knuckles and Guitar.” There was the road house where we bought gin, and Kate Hicks and the Maurices and the bright harness of the Rye Beach Club. We swam in the depth of the night with George before we quarrelled with him and went to John Williams parties where there were actresses who spoke French when they were drunk. George played “Cuddle up a Little Closer” on the piano. There were my white knickers that startled the Connecticut hills, and the swim in the sandaled lady’s bird-pool. The beach, and dozens of men, mad rides along the Post Road and trips to New York. We never could have a room at a hotel at night we looked so young, so once we filled an empty suit case with the telephone directory and spoons and a pin-cushion at The Manhattan—I was romanticly attached to Townsend and he went away to Tahatii—and there were your episodes of Gene Bankhead and Miriam. We bought the Marmon with Harvey Firestone and went south through the haunted swamps of Virginia, the red clay hills of Georgia, the sweet rutted creek-bottoms of Alabama. We drank corn on the wings of an aeroplane in the moon-light and danced at the country-club and came back. I had a pink dress that floated and a very theatrical silver one that I bought with Don Stewart.

We moved to 59th Street. We quarrelled and you broke the bathroom door and hurt my eye. We went so much to the theatre that you took it off the income tax. We trailed through Central Park in the snow after a ball at the Plaza, I quarrelled with Zoe about Bottecelli at the Brevoort and went with her to buy a coat for David Belasco. We had Bourbon and Deviled Ham and Christmas at the Overmans and ate lots at the Lafayette. There was Tom Smith and his wall-paper and Mencken and our Valentine party and the time I danced all night with Alex and meals at Mollats with John and I skated, and was pregnant and you wrote the “Beautiful and Damned.” We came to Europe and I was sick and complained always. There was London, and Wopping with Shane Leslie and strawberries as big as tomatoes at Lady Randolph Churchills. There was St. Johns Ervines wooden leg and Bob Handley in the gloom of the Cecil—There was Paris and the heat and the ice-cream that did not melt and buying clothes—and Rome and your friends from the British Embassy and your drinking, drinking. We came home. There was “Dog” and lunch at the St. Regis with Townsend and Alex and John: Alabama and the unbearable heat and our almost buying a house. Then we went to St. Paul and hundreds of people came to call. There were the Indian forests and the moon on the sleeping porch and I was heavy and afraid of the storms. Then Scottie was born and we went to all the Christmas parties and a man asked Sandy “who is your fat friend?” Snow covered everything. We had the Flu and went lots to the Kalmans and Scottie grew strong. Joseph Hergesheimer came and Saturdays we went to the University Club. We went to the Yacht Club and we both had minor flirtations. Joe began to dislike me, and I played so much golf that I had Tetena. Kollie almost died. We both adored him. We came to New York and rented a house when we were tight. There was Val Engelicheff and Ted Paramour and dinner with Bunny in Washington Square and pills and Doctor Lackin        And we had a violent quarrell on the train going back, I don’t remember why. Then I brought Scottie to New York. She was round and funny in a pink coat and bonnet and you met us at the station. In Great Neck there was always disorder and quarrels: about the Golf Club, about the Foxes, about Peggy Weber, about Helen Buck, about everything. We went to the Rumseys, and that awful night at the Mackeys when Ring sat in the cloak-room. We saw Esther and Glen Hunter and Gilbert Seldes. We gave lots of parties: the biggest one for Rebecca West. We drank Bass Pale Ale and went always to the Bucks or the Lardners or the Swopes when they weren’t at our house. We saw lots of Sydney Howard and fought the week-end that Bill Motter was with us. We drank always and finally came to France because there were always too many people in the house. On the boat there was almost a scandal about Bunny Burgess. We found Nanny and went to Hyeres—Scottie and I were both sick there in the dusty garden full of Spanish Bayonet and Bourgainvilla. We went to St. Raphael. You wrote, and we went sometimes to Nice or Monte Carlo. We were alone, and gave big parties for the French aviators. Then there was Josen and you were justifiably angry. We went to Rome. We ate at the Castelli dei Cesari. The sheets were always damp. There was Christmas in the echoes, and eternal walks. We cried when we saw the Pope. There were the luminous shadows of the Pinco and the officer’s shining boots. We went to Frascati and Tivoli. There was the jail, and Hal Rhodes at the Hotel de Russie and my not wanting to go to the moving-picture ball at the Excelsior and asking Hungary Cox to take me home. Then I was horribly sick, from trying to have a baby and you didn’t care much and when I was well we came back to Paris. We sat to-gether in Marseilles and thought how good France was. We lived in the rue Tilsitt, in red plush and Teddy came for tea and we went to the markets with the Murphies. There were the Wimans and Mary Hay and Eva La Galliene and rides in the Bois at dawn and the night we all played puss-in-the-corner at the Ritz. There was Tunti and nights in Mont Matre. We went to Antibes, and I was sick always and took too much Dial. The Murphy’s were at the Hotel du Cap and we saw them constantly. Back in Paris I began dancing lessons because I had nothing to do. I was sick again at Christmas when the Mac Leishes came and Doctor Gros said there was no use trying to save my ovaries. I was always sick and having picqures and things and you were naturally more and more away. You found Ernest and the Cafe des Lilas and you were unhappy when Dr. Gros sent me to Salies-de Bearn. At the Villa Paquita I was always sick. Sara brought me things and we gave a lunch for Geralds father. We went to Cannes and listned to Raquel Miller and dined under the rain of fire-works. You couldn’t work because your room was damp and you quarrelled with the Murphys. We moved to a bigger villa and I went to Paris and had my appendix out. You drank all the time and some man called up the hospital about a row you had had. We went home, and I wanted you to swim with me at Juan-les-Pins but you liked it better where it was gayer: at the Garoupe with Marice Hamilton and the Murphys and the Mac Leishes. Then you found Grace Moore and Ruth and Charlie and the summer passed, one party after another. We quarrelled about Dwight Wiman and you left me lots alone. There were too many people and too many things to do: every-day there was something and our house was always full. There was Gerald and Ernest and you often did not come home. There were the English sleepers that I found downstairs one morning and Bob and Muriel and Walker and Anita Loos, always somebody—Alice Delamar and Ted Rousseau and our trips to St. Paul and the note from Isadora Duncan and the countryside slipping by through the haze of Chamberry-fraises and Graves—That was your summer. I swam with Scottie except when I followed you, mostly unwillingly. Then I had asthma and almost died in Genoa. And we were back in America—further apart than ever before. In California, though you would not allow me to go anywhere without you, you yourself engaged in flagrantly sentimental relations with a child. You said you wanted nothing more from me in all your life, though you made a scene when Carl suggested that I go to dinner with him and Betty Compson. We came east: I worked over Ellerslie incessantly and made it function. There was our first house-party and you and Lois—and when there was nothing more to do on the house I began dancing lessons. You did not like it when you saw it made me happy. You were angry about rehearsals and insistent about trains. You went to New York to see Lois and I met Dick Knight the night of that party for Paul Morand. Again, though you were by then thoroughly entangled sentimentally, you forbade my seeing Dick and were furious about a letter he wrote me. On the boat coming over you paid absolutely no attention of any kind to me except to refuse me the permission to stay to a concert with whatever-his-name-was. I think the most humiliating and bestial thing that ever happened to me in my life is a scene that you probably don’t remember even in Genoa. We lived in the rue Vaugirard. You were constantly drunk. You didn’t work and were dragged home at night by taxi-drivers when you came home at all. You said it was my fault for dancing all day. What was I to do? You got up for lunch. You made no advances toward me and complained that I was un-responsive. You were literally eternally drunk the whole summer. I got so I couldn’t sleep and I had asthma again. You were angry when I wouldn’t go with you to Mont Matre. You brought drunken under-graduates in to meals when you came home for them, and it made you angry that I didn’t care any more. I began to like Egorowa—On the boat going back I told you I was afraid that there was something abnormal in the relationship and you laughed. There was more or less of a scandal about Philipson, but you did not even try to help me. You brought Philippe back and I couldnt manage the house any more; he was insubordinate and disrespectful to me and you wouldn’t let him go. I began to work harder at dancing—I thought of nothing else but that. You were far away by then and I was alone. We came back to rue Palantine and you, in a drunken stupor told me a lot of things that I only half understood: but I understood the dinner we had at Ernests’. Only I didn’t understand that it mattered. You left me more and more alone, and though you complained that it was the appartment or the servants or me, you know the real reason you couldn’t work was because you were always out half the night and you were sick and you drank constantly. We went to Cannes. I kept up my lessons and we quarrelled        You wouldn’t let me fire the nurse that both Scottie and I hated. You disgraced yourself at the Barry’s party, on the yacht at Monte Carlo, at the casino with Gerald and Dotty. Many nights you didn’t come home. You came into my room once the whole summer, but I didn’t care because I went to the beach in the morning, I had my lesson in the afternoon and I walked at night. I was nervous and half-sick but I didn’t know what was the matter. I only knew that I had difficulty standing lots of people, like the party at Wm J. Locke’s and that I wanted to get back to Paris. We had lunch at the Murphy’s and Gerald said to me very pointedly several times that Nemchinova was at Antibes. Still I didn’t understand. We came back to Paris. You were miserable about your lung, and because you had wasted the summer, but you didn’t stop drinking        I worked all the time and I became dependent on Egorowa. I couldn’t walk in the street unless I had been to my lesson. I couldn’t manage the appartment because I couldn’t speak to the servants. I couldn’t go into stores to buy clothes and my emotions became blindly involved. In February, when I was so sick with bronchitis that I had ventouses every day and fever for two weeks, I had to work because I couldn’t exist in the world without it, and still I didn’t understand what I was doing. I didn’t even know what I wanted. Then we went to Africa and when we came back I began to realize because I could feel what was happening in others. You did not want me. Twice you left my bed saying “I can’t. Don’t you understand”—I didn’t. Then there was the Harvard man who lost his direction, and when I wanted you to come home with me you told me to sleep with the coal man. At Nancy Hoyt’s dinner she offerred her services but there was nothing the matter with my head then, though I was half dead, so I turned back to the studio. Lucienne was sent away but since I knew nothing about the situation, I didn’t know why there was something wrong. I just kept on going. Lucienne came back and later went away again and then the end happenned        I went to Malmaison. You wouldn’t help me—I don’t blame you by now, but if you had explained I would have understood because all I wanted was to go on working. You had other things: drink and tennis, and we did not care about each other. You hated me for asking you not to drink. A girl came to work with me but I didn’t want her to. I still believed in love and I thought suddenly of Scottie and that you supported me. So at Valmont I was in tortue, and my head closed to-gether. You gave me a flower and said it was “plus petite et moins etendue”— We were friends—Then you took it away and I grew sicker, and there was nobody to teach me, so here I am, after five months of misery and agony and desperation. I’m glad you have found that the material for a Josepine story and I’m glad that you take such an interest in sports. Now that I can’t sleep any more I have lots to think about, and since I have gone so far alone I suppose I can go the rest of the way—but if it were Scottie I would not ask that she go through the same hell and if I were God I could not justify or find a reason for imposing it—except that it was wrong, of cource, to love my teacher when I should have loved you. But I didn’t have you to love—not since long before I loved her.

I have just begun to realize that sex and sentiment have little to do with each other. When I came to you twice last winter and asked you to start over it was because I thought I was becoming seriously involved sentimentally and preparing situations for which I was morally and practicly unfitted. You had a song about Gigolos: if that had ever entered my head there was, besides the whole studio, 3 other solutions in Paris.

I came to you half-sick after a difficult lunch at Armonville and you kept me waiting until it was too late in front of the Guaranty Trust.

Sandy’s tiny candle was not much of a strain, but it required something better than your week of drunkenness to put it out. You didn’t care: so I went on and on—dancing alone, and, no matter what happens, I still know in my heart that it is a Godless, dirty game; that love is bitter and all there is, and that the rest is for the emotional beggars of the earth and is about the equivalent of people who stimulate themselves with dirty post-cards—

1. Newman Smith, husband of her sister Rosalind.

2. Ludlow Fowler, Fitzgerald’s school friend, was the model for Anson Hunter in “The Rich Boy.”

3. Townsend Martin, Princeton classmate of Fitzgerald’s.

4. Alexander McKaig and possibly William Mackie.

5. Drama critic George Jean Nathan.

6. “Dice, Brass Knuckles & Guitar” was written in January 1923—not in Westport in 1920.

7. Summer 1920; this trip provided material for “The Cruise of the Rolling Junk,” Motor (February, March, April 1924).

8. Humorist Donald Ogden Stewart.

9. Playwright Zoe Akins; Botticelli is a parlor game.

10. Theater producer.

11. Lynne Overman, stage and screen actor.

12. Editor Thomas Smith of Boni and Liveright.

13. Critic H. L. Mencken.

14. Poet John Peale Bishop, Fitzgerald’s college friend.

15. Sir Shane Leslie, British literary figure.

16. St. John Ervine, British playwright.

17. A comic song Fitzgerald had written.

18. Xandra Kalman, a St. Paul friend.

19. Novelist.

20. Possibly tetany, a condition resembling tetanus.

21. Oscar Kalman, husband of Xandra.

22. Prince Vladimir N. Engalitcheff, son of the former Russian Vice Consul in Chicago and of a wealthy American mother; the Fitzgeralds met Engalitcheff aboard the Aquitania in 1921 while he was an undergraduate at Brown University. E. E. Paramore, a writer best known for “The Ballad of Yukon Jake”; later a Hollywood collaborator with Fitzgerald.

23. Critic Edmund Wilson.

24. Charles Cary Rumsey, sculptor and polo player who had an estate at Westbury, Long Island.

25. Probably financier Clarence MacKay.

26. Writer Ring Lardner.

27. Actor Glenn Hunter appeared in Grit (1924), a silent movie for which Fitzgerald wrote the scenario.

28. Critic.

29. English novelist.

30. Herbert Bayard Swope, executive editor of the New York World.

31. Playwright.

32. Scottie’s nurse.

33. Edouard Jozan, French naval aviator with whom she was romantically involved in the summer of 1924.

34. In the fall of 1924, Fitzgerald was jailed in Rome after a brawl.

35. A Christmas party for the cast of Ben Hur.

36. Howard Coxe, journalist and novelist.

37. Possibly composer Theodore Chanler.

38. Gerald and Sara Murphy, American expatriates and close friends of the Fitzgeralds.

39. Theater producer Dwight Wiman.

40. Actress.

41. Actress.

42. Preparation containing alcohol; used as a sedative.

43. Poet Archibald MacLeish.

44. Probably piqures (“injections”).

45. Spa in the Pyrenees where she took a “cure” in January 1926.

46. Raquel Meller, internationally known Spanish singer.

47. A beach at Cap d’Antibes.

48. Opera singer and actress whom the Fitzgeralds knew on the Riviera.

49. Ruth Ober-Goldbeck-de Vallombrosa, an American married to the Count de Vallombrosa; playwright Charles MacArthur.

50. Walker Ellis, Princetonian with whom Fitzgerald had collaborated in the Triangle Club.

51. Author of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

52. St-Paul-de-Vence, a town in the mountains above the Riviera where Zelda was angered by Fitzgerald’s attentions to Isadora Duncan.

53. Zelda resented Fitzgerald’s interest in actress Lois Moran.

54. Novelist Carl Van Vechten.

55. Movie actress.

56. New York lawyer Richard Knight.

57. French diplomat and author; best known for Open All Night (1923) and Closed All Night (1924).

58. Paris taxi driver whom Fitzgerald brought to “Ellerslie” in 1928 to serve as chauffeur.

59. Fitzgerald had come home after a drinking session with Hemingway and passed out. In his sleep he said, “No more baby,” which Zelda interpreted as evidence that Fitzgerald and Hemingway were engaged in a homosexual affair.

60. Playwright Philip Barry.

61. Writer Dorothy Parker.

62. Prima ballerina Nemtchinova.

63. Fitzgerald believed he had tuberculosis.

64. French medical term for cupping.

65. Novelist; sister of Elinor Wylie.

66. Ballerina in Madame Egorova’s studio.

67. Clinic outside Paris, where she was treated in April-May 1930.

68. Val-Mont Clinic at Glion, Switzerland, where she was treated in May 1930.

69. Smaller and less stretched; Fitzgerald used this phrase in one of Nicole’s letters from the sanitarium in Tender Is the Night.

70. In 1930 Fitzgerald began a series of five stories for The Saturday Evening Post alout Josephine Perry, a teenaged girl who undergoes a process of “emotional bankruptcy.”

71. The Kalmans were in Paris at the time of Zelda’s breakdown in the spring of 1930.

Fall 1930
AL, 3 pp. Princeton University
Prangins Clinic, Nyon, Switzerland

Goofy, my darling, hasn’t it been a lovely day? I woke up this morning and the sun was lying like a birth-day parcel on my table so I opened it up and so many happy things went fluttering into the air: love to Doo-do and the remembered feel of our skins cool against each other in other mornings like a school-mistress. And you ’phoned and said I had written something that pleased you and so I don’t believe I’ve ever been so heavy with happiness. The moon slips into the mountains like a lost penny and the fields are black and punguent and I want you near so that I could touch you in the autumn stillness even a little bit like the last echo of summer. The horizon lies over the road to Lausanne and the succulent fields like a guillotine and the moon bleeds over the water and you are not so far away that I can’t smell your hair in the drying breeze. Darling—I love these velvet nights. I’ve never been able to decide whether the night was a bitter [  ] or a grand patron—or whether I love you most in the eternal classic half-lights where it blends with day or in the full religious fan-fare of mid-night or perhaps in the lux of noon—Anyway, I love you most and you ’phoned me just because you ’phoned me to-night—I walked on those telephone wires for two hours after holding your love like a parasol to balance me. My dear—

I’m so glad you finished your story—Please let me read it Friday. And I will be very sad if we have to have two rooms. Please.

Dear. Are you sort of feeling aimless, surprised, and looking rather reproachful that no melo-drama comes to pass when your work is over—as if you ridden very hard with a message to save your army and found the enemy had decided not to attack—the way you sometimes feel—or are you just a darling little boy with a holiday on his hands in the middle of the week—the way you sometimes are—or are you organizing and dynamic and mending things—the way you always are.

I love you—the way you always are.



Dear-dear dear dear dear dear dear

Dear dear dear dear dear dear dear

Dear dear dear dear dear dear

Dear dear dear dear dear dear

Dear dear dear dear dear dear

Dear dear dear dear dear dear

dear dear dear dear dear dear

dear dear dear dear dear dear

dear dear dear dear dear dear

dear dear dear dear dear dear

AL, 3 pp. Princeton University
Prangins Clinic, Nyon, Switzerland

My dearest and most precious Monsieur,

We have here a kind of a maniac who seems to have been inspired with erotic aberrations on your behalf. Apart from that she is a person of excellent character, willing to work, would accept a nominal salary while learning, fair complexion, green eyes would like correspondance with refined young man of your description with intent to marry. Previous experience unnecessary. Very fond of family life and a wonderful pet to have in the home. Marked behind the left ear with a slight tendency to schitzoprenie.

We thought it best to warn you that said patient is one of the best we have at present in the irresponsible class, and we would not like any harm to come to her. She seems to be suffering largely from a grand passion, and is easily identifiable as she will be wearing the pink of condition and babbling about the 6.54 being cupid’s arrow. We hope this specimen will give entire satisfaction, that you will entrust us with all future orders and we love you with all all all our hearts and souls and body.

Wasn’t it fun to laugh together over the ’phone? You are so infinitely sweet and dear—O my dear—my love, my infinitely inexpressible sweet darling dear, I love you so much.

Our picnic was a success and I am cooked raw from the sun. A lady came with us who behaved about the row-boat like I used to about the Paris taxis so it was a lively expedition. What fun, God help us—

Goofy! I’m going to see you to-morrow to-morrow! You said you wouldn’t ’phone, so what time will I expect your call?

If all the kisses and love I’m sending you arrive at their destination you will be as worn away as St. Peter’s toe and by the time I arrive have practically no features left at all—but I shall know you always by the lilt in your darling person


Spring/Summer 1931
AL, 3 pp. Princeton University
Prangins Clinic, Nyon, Switzerland

Darling, Berne is such a funny town: we bumped into Hansel and Gretel and the Babes in the Wood were just under the big clock. It must be a haven for all lost things, painted on itself that way. Germanic legends slide over those red, peeling roofs like a fantastic shower and the ends of all stories probably lie in the crevasses. We climbed the cathedral tower in whispers, and there it was hidden in the valley, paved with sugar blocks, the home of good witches, and I asked of all they painted statues three wishes.

That you should love me

That you love me

You love me!

O can you? I love you so.

The train rode home through a beautiful word: “alpin-glun.” The mountains had covered their necks in pink tulle like coquettish old ladies covering scars and wrinkles and gold ran down the hill-sides into the lake.

When we got home they said you had ’phoned, so I phoned back as indiscreetly as possible since I couldn’t bear not having heard your voice, that lovely warm feeling like an emotional massage.

O my love—how can you love a silly girl who buys cheese and plaited bread from enchanted princes in the public market and eats them on the streets of a city that pops into life like a cucoo-clock when you press the right note of appreciation

I love you, dear.

1. Alpengluhen, the glow of the Alps at sunset.

After August 1931
AL, 6 pp. Princeton University
Prangins Clinic, Nyon, Switzerland

Dearest, my Love—

Your dear face shining in the station, your dear radiant face and all along the way shimmering above the lake—

It’s so peaceful to be with you—when we are to-gether we are apart in a high indominatable place, sweet like your room at Caux swinging over the blue. I love you more always and always—

Please don’t be depressed: nothing is sad about you except your sadness and the frayed places on your pink kimona and that you care so much about everything—You are the only person who’s ever done all they had to do, damn well, and had enough left over to be dissatisfied. You are the best—the best—the best and genius is so much a part of you that when you find a person you like you think they have it too because it’s your only conception—O my love, I love you so—and I want you to be happy. Can’t you possibly be just a little bit glad that we are alive and that all the year that’s coming we can be to-gether and work and love and get some peace for all the things we’ve paid so much for learning? Stop looking for solace: there isn’t any and if there were life would be a baby affair. Johnny takes his medicine and Johnny get well and a quarter besides. Think! Johnny might get some mysterious malady if left to develop and have it named for him and live forever, and if Johnny died from not having his syrup the parable would have been a moralistic one about his mother.

Dear, I’m tired and in an awful muddle myself and I don’t know what to tell you—but love is important and we can make life do and you are greater than any of them when you’re well and rested enough not to know they exist.

Stop thinking about our marriage and your work and human relations—you are not a showman arranging an exhibit—You are a Sun-god with a wife who loves him and an artist—to take in, assimilate and all alterations to be strictly on paper—

Darling, forgive me, I love you so. I can’t find anything to say beyond that and I’d like a wonderful philosophy to comfort you.

Dear, my love.

Think of me some—

It’s so happy to touch you.

December 1931
ALS, 2 pp. Princeton University
Montgomery, Alabama

Dearest My D.O—

Sunday in a trance and sleeping all afternoon like a deserted cat on your bed and now its night and the house seems to be nothing but overtones with you away—Tho you hat is in the hall and your stick still on the bed and you could not tell that it’s all just a bluff and a make-shift without you. I feel like going to Florida for the week-end. It’s only six hours in the car, and I imagine at this time of year it would be very reedy with lone fowls strung on the horizon and the seaflinging loose gray cowls on the sand and long yellow beaches that look like womens’ poetry and belong to the Swinburne apostles.

The cat is the most beautiful fellow. He broods over ancient Egypt on the hearth and looks at us all contemptuously. Julia and Freeman are very good and considerate and Mlle and I get along very well and have not yet come to blows. She is a nice girl. Scottie is engrossed in protecting herself against being disillusioned about Santa Claus and is as pretty as a moon-beam. She dresses herself by my fire and it’s a joy to watch her long sweet delicate body and the cool of her pale hair quenching the light from the flames. However, my disposition is very bad and asthmatic and it is just as well that you are out of this homely lyric. I am going to dig myself a bear-pit and sit inside thumbing my nose at the people who bring me carrots and then I will be perfectly happy. My mother and father are civilized people: it is strange the rest of us should be so inadequate. There are some lovely bears in Berne who live in a mythical world of Sunday afternoon and little boys and itenerant soldiers and the one in Petrouschka is very pleasant and sometimes they live on honey and wildflowers when they are off duty from the fairy-tales. But I will be a very dirty bear with burrs in my coat and my nice silky hair all matted with mud and I will growl and move my head about disconsolately.

There are no grands evenements to report. I am sending my story to Ober as it now seems satisfactory to me, but nobody will buy it since it is mostly about champagne. They wouldn’t buy it anyway even if it was about hydrochloric-acid or mystic anti-kink so what ho!

Darling I miss you so terribly—You can never go off again. It’s absolutely impossible to be very interested in anything without you or even to get along very well—at all.

Love and Love and Love


1. Fitzgerald was in Hollywood alone during November-December writing an unproduced screenplay.

2. The Fitzgeralds’ servants.

3. Harold Ober, Fitzgerald’s literary agent.

December 1931
ALS, 4 pp. Princeton University
Montgomery, Alabama

Dearest my love:

I am positively tormented by all sorts of self-reproaches at leaving. Scottie is so sweet and darling and the house is so pleasant and I have everything in the world except you. And yet I am nervous and too introspective and stale—probably because since you left I haven’t felt like amusement and recently I have not been able to exercise at all. So I am leaving for the week-end only, in the hopes that just long riding rolling along will give me back the calm and contentment that has temporarily disappeared with my physical well-being. Please understand and do not think that I leave in search of any fictitious pleasure. After the utter solitude of Prangin there have been many people lately and people that I love with whom my relations are more than superficial and I really think I need a day or two by myself. I will leave Sun. and be back Wed. night—While we are away, Julia is thorough cleaning. She is a peach.

D.O. I realize more completely than ever how much I live in you and how sweet and good and kind you are to such a dependent appendage.

Chopin has his nest in our bath-room. He is so lovely with a face like a judicial melancholic bear, the Polly scornfully eats peanuts, and Uncle rakes the leaves like father Time sorting over the years of the past.

Scottie and I have had a long bed-time talk about the Soviets and the Russian idea. I lent her “The Russian Primer” to read and will be curious to hear her reactions when I get back. She is so responsive and alert. You will be absolutely ravished by her riding trousers and yellow shirt and Scottie rearing back in her saddle like a messenger of victory. Each time she goes she conquers herself and the pony, the sky, the fields and the little black boy who follows on a fast shaven mule. I wish I were a fine sweet person like you two and not somebody who has to go 200 miles because they have a touch of asthma.

The house is full of surprises—but as usual I did everything at once and there’s nothing left for the end, except finish my story which is too good to do uninspirationally and out of sorts.

God! I hope you haven’t worked yourself to death. We must reduce our scale of living since we will always be equally extravagant as now. It would be easier to start from a lower base. This is sound economics and what Ernest and most of our friends do—

Darling—How much I love you.


1. The yardman.

2. M. Ilin, New Russia’s Primer (1931).

After February 1932
AL, 4 pp. Princeton University
Phipps Clinic, Baltimore, Maryland


Life has become practicly intolerable. Everyday I devellop a new neurosis until I can think of nothing to do but place myself in the Confederate Museum at Richmond. Now it’s money: We must have more money. To-morrow it will something else again: that I ran when Mamma needed me to help her move, that my hips are fat and shaking with the vulgarities of middle-age, that you had to leave your novel, that there are unemployed, or millionaires, people better than I am and people worse, a horrible sickening fear that I shall never be able to free myself from the mediocrity of my conceptions. For many years I have lived under the disastrous pressure of a conviction of power and necessity to accomplish without the slightest ray of illumination. The only message I ever thought I had was four pirouettes and finite. It turned out to be about as cryptic a one as Chinese laundry ticket, but the will to speak remains.

O Darling! My poor dear—watching everything in your life destroyed one by one except your name. Your entire life will soon be accounted for by the toils we have so assiduously woven—your leisure is eaten up by habits of leisure, your money by habitual extravagance, your hope by cynicism and mine by frustration, your ambition by too much compromise. D.O. it is very sad and utterly meaningless and the only real emotion I have which will bear inspection is an over whelming desire to expose the charlatanism and ignominious harlotrys of what we so eruditely refer to as our civilizations. Freud is the only living human outside the Baptist church who continues to take man seriously.

Bunny’s mind is too speculative—Nothing but futures, of the race, of an idea, of politics, of birth-control. Just constant planning and querulous projecting and no execution. And he drinks so much that he cares more than he would.


I want to go to fabulous places where there is absolutely no conception of the ultimate convergence of everything—

I Love You

1. After Zelda Fitzgerald suffered a relapse during a trip to Florida in January, Fitzgerald placed her in the Phipps Clinic and returned to Montgomery.

March 1932
ALS, 4 pp. Princeton University
Phipps Clinic, Baltimore, Maryland

Darling, Sweet D.O.—

Your dear letter made me feel very self-condamnatory. I have often told you that I am that little fish who swims about under a shark and, I believe, lives indelicately on its offal. Anyway, that is the way I am. Life moves over me in a vast black shadow and I swallow whatever it drops with relish, having learned in a very hard school that one cannot be both a parasite and enjoy self-nourishment without moving in worlds too fantastic for even my disordered imagination to people with meaning. So: it is easy to make yourself loved when one lives off love. Goofo—I adore you and worship you and I am very miserable that you be made even temporarily unhappy by those divergencies of direction in myself which I cannot satisfactorily explain and which leave me eternally alone except for you and baffled. You are absolutely all in the world that I have ever been able to think of as having any vital bearing on my relations with the evolution of the species.

“Freaks” gave me the horrors. God! the point of view of sanity, normality, beauty, even the necessity to survive is so utterly arbitrary. Nobody has ever been able to experience what they have thoroughly understood—or understand what they have experienced until they have achieved a detachment that renders them incapable of repeating the experience. And we are all seeking the absolution of chastity in sex and the stimulation of sex in the church until sometimes I think I would loose my mind if I were not insane.

Darling, darling. The Zola is wonderful. Had he ever fallen into the hands of the authorities, we should have missed his contribution to neurasthentic symptology sadly. It is a long time since I have had any new symptoms and I am bored with all the old tricks of my shattered organism

I love you and I would like us to be covered with the flake of dried sea water and sleeping to-gether on a hot afternoon. That would be very free and fine. Dear Heart!

I have got so fetid and constantly smell of the rubbery things about here—It’s ghastly, really. I do not know to what depths the human soul can sink in bondage, but after a certain point everything luckily dissolves in humor. I want to fly a kite and eat green apples and have a stomach-ache that I know the cause of and feel the mud between my toes in a reedy creek and tickle the lobe of your ear with the tip of my tongue.

If Trouble still bites give him a good kick in the ass for me.

Darling, I love you so.


P.S. I do not see how Dr. Squires can remain a sprig of old English lilac in this seething witches cauldron. Did you know the Furies turned out to be respectable old women who went about the countryside doing good and laying eggs in their night shirts? So much for Eschyllus. The old moralist!

1. A 1932 movie.

2. Scottie’s dog.

3. Dr. Mildred Squires of the Phipps Clinic, to whom Zelda Fitzgerald dedicated Save Me the Waltz.

March 1932
ALS, 2 pp. (with Fitzgerald’s annotations)
Princeton University
Phipps Clinic, Baltimore, Maryland

Dearest, my own Darling D.O—

I hadn’t realized how much I wanted to see you till night came and you had telegraphed your delay—Here, living so that every action is a ritual and every smallest bit of energy expended is of interest to somebody, there’s not much time left for projecting yourself into distant places and speres of an ordinary existence. One day goes and then another and the cradle rocks on in the continuous lullaby of recapitulations. My heart fell with a thump that you didn’t come—So I have been very cross and rude and blaming the Sicilian Vespers and St. Bartholemew’s on Dr. Myers.


1 ? (perilous) FSF

Dr. Squires tells me you are hurt that I did not send my book to you before I mailed it to Max. Purposely I didn’t—knowing that you were working on your own and honestly feeling that I had no right to interrupt you to ask for a perious opinion. Also, I know Max will not want it and I prefer to do the corrections after having his opinion. Naturally, I was in my usual rush to get it off my hands—You know how I hate brooding over things once they are finished: so I mailed it poste haste, hoping to have yours + Scribner’s criticisms to use for revising.

2 This is an evasion

(all this reasoning is specious or else there is no evidence of a tornado in the state of Alabama





Scott, I love you more than anything on earth and if you were offended I am miserable. We have always shared everything but it seems to me I no longer have the right to inflict every desire and necessity of mine on you. I was also afraid we might have touched the same material. Also, feeling it to be a dubious production due to my own instability I did not want a scathing criticism such as you have mercilessly—if for my own good given my last stories, poor things. I have had enough discouragement, generally, and could scream with that sense of inertia that hovers over my life and everything I do. So, Dear, my own, please realize that it was not from any sense of not turning first to you—but just time and other ill-regulated elements that made me so bombastic about Max.

I have two stories that I save to show you, and a fantastic sketch.

I am going to begin a play as soon as I can find out about length etc—for which I ordered Baker’s book—


Goofo, please love me—life is very confusing—but I love you. Try, dear—and then I’ll remember when you need me to sometime, and help.

I love you—


The numbers and check marks in the margin are Fitzgerald’s. Editorial footnotes are identified by the letters A-E.

A. September 1931 Mafia murders.

B. Zelda Fitzgerald had written the first version of Save Me the Waltz at Phipps and sent it directly to Maxwell Perkins, Fitzgerald’s editor at Scribners. When Fitzgerald learned about it, he was bitterly angry because he felt she had used material that belonged to him. The first draft of Save Me the Waltz does not survive.

C. Fitzgerald’s note; there had recently been a tornado in Alabama. The words “of Alabama” are smeared.

D. Probably underlined by Fitzgerald.

E. George Pierce Baker, professor of playwriting.

April 1932
ALS, 2 pp. Princeton University
Phipps Clinic, Baltimore, Maryland


Of cource, I glad submit to anything you want about the book or anything else. I felt myself the thing was too crammed with material upon which I had not the time to dwell and consequently lost any story continuity. Shall I wire Max to send it back? The real story was the old prodigal son, of cource. I regret that it offended you. The Pershing incident which you accuse me of stealing occupies just one line and will not be missed. I willingly relinquish it. However, I would like you to thoroughly understand that my revision will be made on an aesthetic basis: that the other material which I will elect is nevertheless legitimate stuff which has cost me a pretty emotional penny to amass and which I intend to use when I can get the tranquility of spirit necessary to write the story of myself versus myself. That is the book I really want to write. As you know my contacts with my family have always been in the nature of the raids of a friendly brigand. I quite realize that the quality of this book does not warrant so many excursions into the bizarre—As for my friends: first, I have none; by that I mean that all our associates have always taken me for granted, sought your stimulus and fame, eaten my dinners and invited “the Fitzgeralds” place. You have always been and always will be the only person with whom I have felt the necessity to communicate and our intimacies have, to me, been so satisfactory mentally that no other companion has ever seemed necessary. Despised by my supiors, which are few, held in suspicion by my equal, even fewer, I have got all external feeding for my insignifgant flames from people either so vastly different from myself that our relations were like living a play or I have cherished my inferiors with color; to wit; Still [  ] etc. and the friends of my youth. However, I did not intend to write you a treatise on friendship in which I do not believe. There is enough difficulty reconciling the different facets in one single person to bear the context of all human communication, it seems to me. When that is accomplished, the resultant sense of harmony is what is meant by benevolent friendship.

D.O. I am so miserable at not being able to help you. I know how upset you get about stories. Don’t worry. If we have less money—well, we can always live. I promise to be very conciliatory and want nothing on earth so much as for you to feel that you can write what you want.

About my fish-nets: they were beautiful gossamer pearl things to catch the glints of the sea and the slow breeze of the weaving sea-weed and bubbles at dawn. If a crab filtered in and gnawed the threads and an octpus stagnated and slimed up their fine knots and many squids shot ink across their sheen and shad laid comfortable row on their lovely film, they are almost repaired once more and the things I meant to fish still bloom in the sea. Here’s hope for the irridiscent haul that some day I shall have. What do you fish with, by the way? that so puts to shame my equipment which I seriously doubt that you have ever seen, Superior Being—

With dearest love, I am your irritated


1. In Book I, Chapter 18 of Tender Is the Night, Abe North pretends to be General Pershing at the Paris Ritz.

2. Possibly underlined by Fitzgerald.

3. Possibly underlined by Fitzgerald.

March 1934
ALS, 6 pp. Princeton University
Craig House, Beacon, New York

Dear Scott:

I quite realize the terrible financial pressure of the last year for you, and I am miserable that this added burden should have fallen on your shoulders. All the beauty of this place must cost an awful lot of money and maybe it would be advisable to go somewhere more compatible with our present means. Please do not think that I don’t appreciate the strain you are under. I would make the best possible effort to rehabilitate myself under any less luxurious conditions that might be more expedient.

Please don’t give up Scottie’s music. Though she is at an age when she resents the practice, I feel sure that later she will get an immense satisfaction out of the piano. About the French, do as you think best. She will never forget it at her age and could pick it up again quickly as soon as she heard it around her.

It’s too bad about Willie         She was the best cook we’ve ever had in years and I’ve always held Essie in suspect: there’ve been such a long succession of rows over missing things since she became part of the household.

The trunk arrived. I am very much oblidged. However, I would also like my blue bathing-suit which may be in the box with moth balls in the back room on the third floor, and also the rest of my clothes: a blue suit, a green checked skirt and the evening clothes, ALSO PLEASE ask Mrs Owens to send me a $2 pointed camel’s hair brush from Webers and the two unfinished canvases from Phipps, and a pound can of Weber’s permalba.

Dear: I am not trying to make myself into a great artist or a great anything. Though you persist in thinking that an exaggerated ambition is the fundamental cause of my collapse, knowing the motivating elements that now make me wa[nt] to work I cannot agree with you and Dr Forel—though of cource, the will-to-power may have played a part in the very beginning. However, five years have passed since then, and one matures. I do the things I can do and that interest me and if you’d like me to give up everything I like to do I will do so willingly if it will advance matters any. I am not headstrong and do not like existing entirely at other peoples expense and being a constant care to others any better than you like my being in such a situation.

If you feel that it is an imposition on Cary to have the exhibition, the pictures can wait. I believe in them and in Emerson’s theory about good-workman-ship. If they are good, they will come to light some day.

About my book: you and the doctors agreed that I might work on it. If you now prefer that I put it aside for the present I wish you would be clear about saying so. The short story is a form demanding too concentrated an effort for me at present and I might try a play, if you are willing and don’t approve of the novel or something where the emotional purpose can be accomplished by accurate execution of an original cerebral conception. Please say what you want done, as I really do not know. As you know, my work is mostly a pleasure for me, but if it is better for me to take up something quite foreign to my temperament, I will—Though I can’t see what good it does to knit bags when you want to paint pansies, maybe it is necessary at times to do what you don’t like.

Tilde ’phoned that she and John would drive over to see me. I will be very glad to see them.



1. Zelda Fitzgerald failed to show improvement at Phipps, and Fitzgerald moved her to Craig House in Beacon, N.Y., where the minimum rate was $175 a week.

2. Her paintings and drawings were shown at Cary Ross’s gallery in Manhattan March 29-April 30, with a smaller exhibit at the Algonquin Hotel.

3. A second novel that was never finished.

4. Clothilde Palmer, Zelda’s sister.

April 1934
ALS, 1 p. Princeton University
Craig House, Beacon, New York

Dear—The book is grand. The emotional lift sustained by the force of a fine poetic prose and the characters subserviated to forces stronger than their interpretations of life is very moving. It is tear-evoking to witness individual belief in individual volition succumbing to the purpose of a changing world. That is the purpose of a good book and you have written it—Those people are helpless before themselves and the prose is beautiful and there is manifest an integrity in the belief of both those expressions. It is a reverential and very fine book and the first literary contribution to what writers will be concerning themselves with some years from now.



1. Tender Is the Night was published on April 12.

After 12 April 1934
ALS, 3 pp. Princeton University
Craig House, Beacon, New York

Dearest D.O.:

I was afraid you might worry about some of the silly reviews which I have not seen until to-day Please don’t         All the opinion which you respect has said everything you would like to have said about the book. It is not a novel about the simple and the inarticulate, nor are such a fitting subject for literature one of whose primary functions is to enrich the human mind. Anybody granted a certain talent can express direct action, or even emotion segregated from the activities of the world of their day but to present the growth of a human tragedy resultant from social conditions is a big feat. To me, you have done it well and at the same time preserved the more simple beauties of penetrating poignancy to be found in the use of exquisite prose.

Don’t worry about critics—what sorrows have they to measure by or what lilting happiness with which to compare those ecstatic passages?

The atomists who followed Democritus said that quantity was what differentiated one thing from another—not quality—so critics will have to rise one day to the high points of good books. They cannot always live on reproductions of their own emotions in simple enough settings not to distract them: the poor boy having a hard time which is all very beautiful because of the poverty, etc.

It’s a swell heart-breaking book, because the prose compels you to respond to the active situations—which is as it should be.

I am very worried about the finances, PLEASE don’t hesitate to do anything that would relieve the strain on you.



1. The reviews of Tender Is the Night were mixed, with several critics expressing confusion at the structure of the novel.

After 12 April 1934
ALS, 4 pp. Princeton University
Craig House, Beacon, New York

Dearest Do-Do:

I was so worried that you would be upset about some of those reviews—What critics know about the psychology of a psychiatrist, I don’t know, but the ones I saw seemed absurd, taking little account of the fact that a novel not in 18 volumes can’t cover everything but must rely on the indicative  You know yourself that as people yours are moving and heart-rending creations; as instruments of your artistic purpose they arrive at an importance which they would otherwise not have had, and that is the function of characters in a novel, which is, after all, a way of looking at life  Do you suppose you could get Menken to write an intelligent review? The rest do not seem to know what they think beyond the fact that they have never thought of such problems before. And don’t let them discourage you. It is a swell evokation of an epoch and a very masterly presentation of tragedies sprung from the beliefs (or lack of them) of those times which bloomed from the seeds of despair planted by the war and of the circumstance dependent on the adjustment of philosophies—Woolcot might be good to review it, since he had some appreciation of the spectacle which it presents, but I have seen some very silly and absurd commentaries of his lately, and he may have succumbed to the pseudo-radical formulas of Kaufman and Gershwin by now.

Let Bromfield feed their chaotic minds on the poppy-seed of farm-youth tragedies and let them write isolated epics lacking any epic quality save reverence  Yours is a story taking place behind the scenes, and I only hope that you will not forget that most of the audience has never been there—

Anyway, they all seem to realize that much thought and a fine equipment has gone into its making and maybe—if they only could understand—

D.O.—darling—having reached the people you wanted to reach, what more can you ask? Show man ship is an incidental consideration, after all—they have its glittering sequins in the circus and the Hippodrome and critics yelling for more in literature seems a little like babies crying for things they can’t have between meals—put card-board cuffs on their elbows—Those antiquated methods are the only ones I know.

x x x x

Since writing your letter has come. Of cource, I missed all but a few reviews. Bill Warren has a swell sense of the dramatic and I hope he’ll separate out the points that will appeal to Mr. Mayer. My advice is to revert to the money-triangle as you can’t possibly use the incest. Or make the man a weak and charming figure from the first, always gravitating towards the center of things: which would lead him, when he was in the clinic, to Nicole and later to Rosemary. Regret could be the motif of the last section—Naturally, it’s only advice, and I don’t know if a male star would like to play something so far removed from Tarzan and those things about the desert where people are so brave, and only minor figures make mistakes



1. Alexander Woollcott did not review Tender Is the Night. George S. Kaufman collaborated with George and Ira Gershwin on Of Thee I Sing (1931) and Let ’em Eat Cake (1933).

2. Novelist Louis Bromfield.

3. Charles Marquis Warren was working on a screenplay of Tender Is the Night that Fitzgerald hoped to sell to MGM.

4. Louis B. Mayer, head of MGM.

April 1934
ALS, 4 pp. Princeton University
Craig House, Beacon, New York

Dearest Scott:

I am glad you did not let those undiscerning reviews upset you—You have the satisfaction of having written a tragic and poetic personal drama against the background of an excellent presentation of the times we matured in. You know that I have always felt that the chief function of the artist was to inspire feeling and certainly “Tender” did that. What people will live on for the next ten years I do not know: because, with the synchronization of light and sound and color (still embryonicly on display at the world’s Fair) there may be a tremendous revision of aesthetic judgments and responses. Some of the later movies have cinematic effects unachievable with a brush—all of which tends to a communistic conception of art, I suppose. In this case, I writing might become the most individualistic of all expressions, or a sociological organ.

Anyway, your book is a sustained and exalted piece of prose—

Bill Warren, in my opinion, is a silly man to get to transcribe its subtleties to a metier that is now commanding the highest talents: because people will be looking thus expecting to be carried along by visual emotional developments as well as story and you will be robbed of the inestimable value of your prose to raise and cut and break the tension. But you know better than I. In the movies, one symbolic device is worth a thousand feet of explanation (granted you haven’t at your disposal those expert technicians who have turned out some of the late stuff)  Go to see Ruth Chatterton and Adolph Menjou in the last thing about murder. It’s a swell straight psychological story—I simply thought that with all the stuff in your book so much could have been done: the funicular, the beach umbrellas, the garden high above the world, and in the end the two people swimming in darkness.

When Mrs O. sends

1) Dramatic Technique

2) Golden Treasury

3) Pavlowa’s Life

4) The Book on Modern Art, I will return Scottie’s Treasury. Until then, I have nothing to read as I can’t stand the Inferno or the pseudo-noble-simplicity of that book Dorothy P. gave me.

Won’t you ask her to? Also the paint from Webers. She said she would—They would mail it.



1. Journal of a Crime.

After 13 June 1934
ALS, 3 pp. Princeton University
Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital
Towson, Maryland

Dearest Do-Do:

Do-Do you are so sweet to do those stories for me. Knowing the energy and interest you have put into other people’s work, I know how much trouble you make appear so easy. Darling—

I will correct the stories as soon as I can—though you know this is a very regimented system we live under with every hour accounted for and not much time for outside interests. There was a better, later version of the dance story—but maybe I can shift this one since I remember it.

You talk of the function of art. I wonder if anybody has ever got nearer the truth than Aristotle: he said that all emotions and all experience were common property—that the transposition of these into form was individual and art. But, God, it’s so involved by whether you aim at direct or indirect appeals and whether the emotional or the cerebral is the most compelling approach, and whether the shape of the edifice or the purpose for which it is designated is paramount that my conceptions are in a sad state of flux. At any rate, it seems to me the artists business is to take a willing mind and guide it to hope or despair contributing not his interpretations but a glimpse of his honestly earned scars of battle and his rewards. I am still adamant against the interpretive school. Nobody but educators can show people how to think—but to open some new facet of the stark emotions or to preserve some old one in the grace of a phrase seem nearer the artistic end. You know how a heart will rise or fall to the lilt of an a-laden troche or the sonorous dell of an o—and where you will use these business secrets certainly depends on the author’s special evaluations. That was what I was trying to accomplish with the book I began: I wanted to say “This is a love story—maybe not your love story—maybe not even mine, but this is what happened to one isolated person in love. There is no judgment.”—I don’t know—abstract emotion is difficult of transcription, and one has to find so many devices to carry a point that the point is too often lost in transit—

I wrote you a note which I lost containing the following facts

1) The Myers have gone to Antibes with the Murphys—

2) Malcolm Cowley arrested for rioting in N.Y.

3) I drink milk, one glass of which I consider equal to six bananas under water or two sword-swallowings—

There didn’t seem to be anything else to write you except that I love you. We have a great many activities of the kind one remembers pleasantly afterwards but which seem rather vague at the time like pea-shelling and singing. For some reason, I am very attached to this country-side. I love the clover fields and the click of base-ball bats in the deep green cup of the field and the sky as blue and idyllic as parts of your prose. I keep hoping that you will be in some of the cars that ruffle the shade of the sycamores. Dr. Ellgin said you would come soon.

It will be grand to see Mrs. Owens—I wish it were you and Scottie. Darling.

Don’t you think “Eight Women” is too big a steal from Dreiser—I like, ironicly, “My Friends” or “Girl Friends” better. Do you suppose I could design the jacket. It’s very exciting.

My reading seems to have collapsed at “The Alchemist.” I really don’t care much for characters named for the cardinal sins or cosmic situations. However I will get on with it—

Thanks again about the book—and everything—In my file there are two other fantasies and the story about the judge to which I am partial—and I would be most grateful if you would read “Theatre Ticket” to see if it could be sold to a magazine maybe—


Why didn’t you go to



Do you think the material is too dissimilar for a [co]llection? It worries me.

1. Unpublished

2. Isabelle Owens, Fitzgerald’s secretary.

3. Theodore Dreiser’s Twelve Men. (1919).

4. By Ben Jonson.

5. Unpublished.

June 1935
ALS, 4 pp. Princeton University
Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital
Towson, Maryland

Dearest and always

Dearest Scott:

I am sorry too that there should be nothing to greet you but an empty shell. The thought of the effort you have made over me, the suffering this nothing has cost would be unendurable to any save a completely vacuous mechanism. Had I any feelings they would all be bent in gratitude to you and in sorrow that of all my life there should not even be the smallest relic of the love and beauty that we started with to offer you at the end.

You have been so good to me—and all I can say is that there was always that deeper current running through my heart: my life—you.

You remember the roses in Kinneys yard—you were so gracious and I thought “he is the sweetest person in the world” and you said “darling.” You still are. The wall was damp and mossy when we crossed the street and said we loved the south. I thought of the south and a happy past I’d never had and I thought I was part of the south. You said you loved this lovely land. The wistaria along the fence was green and the shade was cool and life was old.

—I wish I had thought something else—but it was a confederate, a romantic and nostalgic thought. My hair was damp when I took off my hat and I was safe and home and you were glad that I felt that way and you were reverent. We were gold and happy all the way home.

Now that there isn’t any more happiness and home is gone and there isn’t even any past and no emotions but those that were yours where there could be any comfort—it is a shame that we should have met in harshness and coldness where there was once so much tenderness and so many dreams. Your song.

I wish you had a little house with hollyhocks and a sycamore tree and the afternoon sun imbedding itself in a silver tea-pot. Scottie would be running about somewhere in white, in Renoir, and you will be writing books in dozens of volumes. And there will be honey still for tea, though the house should not be in Granchester—

I want you to be happy—if there were justice you would be happy—maybe you will be anyway—

Oh, Do-Do



I love you anyway—even if there isn’t any me or any love or even any life—

I love you.

1. Rupert Brooke, “The Old Vicarage Grantchester” (1912).

ALS, 4 pp. Princeton University
Highland Hospital, Asheville, North Carolina

Dearest, dearest Do-Do:

What a funny picture of you in the paper. I wish we had just been swimming together, the way it seems—I’ll be so glad when you come home again. When will we be three of us again—Do you remember our first meal in the Biltmore when you said “And now there’ll never be just two of us again—from now on we’ll be three—” And it was sort of sad somehow and then it was the saddest thing in the world, but we were safer and closer than ever—Oh, I’ll be so glad to see you on the tenth.

Scottie was as sweet as I had imagined. She’s one inch shorter than I am and weighs four pounds more—and I am her most devoted secret admirer—

Maybe I can come home—

That’s what we said on the softness of that expansive Alabama night a long long time ago when you envited me to dine and I had never dined before but had always just “had supper.” The General was away. The night was soft and gray and the trees were feathery in the lamp light and the dim recesses of the pine forest were fragrant with the past, and you said you would come back from no matter where you are. So I said and I will be here waiting. I didn’t quite believe it, but now I do.

And so, years later I painted you a picture of some faithful poppies and the picture said “No matter what happens I have always loved you so. This is the way we feel about us; other emotions may be superimposed, even accident may contribute another quality to our emotions, but this is our love and nothing can change it. For that is true.” And I love you still.

It was me who said:

I feel as if something had happened and I don’t know know what it is

You said:

—Well and you smiled (And it was a compliment to me FOR you had never heard “well” used so before) if you don’t know I can’t possibly know

Then I said “I guess nobody knows—


you hoped and I guessed

Everything’s going to be all right—

So we got married—

And maybe everything is going to be all right, after all.

There are so many houses I’d like to live in with you. Oh Wont you be mine—again and again—and yet again—

Dearest love, I love you


Happily, happily foreverafterwards—the best we could.

1. Zelda Fitzgerald became a patient at Highland in April 1935; she remained there until 1940, after which she returned intermittently.

ALS, 2 pp. Princeton University
Highland Hospital, Asheville, North Carolina

Dear D.O.:

It rains, and sleets; and is indeed as malevolent a time as ever attacked. The hills are steeped in Cosmic regrets and the valleys are flooded with morose and aimless puddles.

However, the stores bloom and blossom and ingratiates themselves with the brighter of spring-times and the newest of aspirations. The drugstores are still fragrant of chocolate and aromatic of all sorts of soaps and bottled miracles. This town is so redolent of hushed rendezvous: I always think of you when I wait in Faters for the bus or hang around Eckerts before a movie—or even after a movies, thus making orgy.

“The Hunchback of Notre Dame” is the most magnificent fusion of music and action and the signifigance of lines that I have seen. The acting is far more than usually compelling: and the orchestration does not confine itself to the music but includes the whole performance.

There does not seem to be any news: which some people think of in terms of an advantage, but which, to me, presents itself vaguely in terms of disaster. Well anyway we’re better off than the Finns + the Russians.

I cant understand about your stories. The school that you started and the vogue which you began are still dictating the spiritual emulation of too many people for your work to be irrelevant: and certainly the tempo of the times ought to bring you some success.

Would it be a good idea if you tried Harold Ober again? That seems to me a most sensible way of handling the situation: Ober knows so much better than anybody else how to handle your work.



Peter Liddle might be a lucky nom-de-plume.

1. Finland and Russia were at war.

2. Fitzgerald’s literary agent.

3. Fitzgerald was considering submitting his short stories under a pen name.

Published in Zelda Fitzgerald: The Colleceted Writings collection (1991).