"Zelda, his wife"
Zelda Sayre
Public DomainZelda Sayre - Credit: Sidney Lanier High School

Scott Fitzgerald met Alabama-born belle Zelda Sayre (1900-1948) at a dance at Camp Sheridan in April 1918. Young, headstrong and radically non-conformist, Zelda was the very embodiment of the era's flapper: 'without a thought for anyone else… I did not have a single feeling of inferiority, or shyness, or doubt, and no moral principles.' The pair fell in love and were engaged the following year. However, Scott was possessive from the outset -- a sure recipe for trouble when combined with Zelda's flirtatious ways -- and the ups and downs of the engagement would be borne out in the marriage that finally took place in 1920.


Many have theorised about the union that left Scott an alcoholic and Zelda in an asylum. Some have corroborated Hemingway's observations, claiming that Zelda -- clearly experiencing mental issues -- was a drain on Scott's resources and an obstacle to his talent. Others have conjectured that it was Scott who was at fault, starving Zelda of her artistic expression. It was probably something in between. Whatever the true reasons behind the relationship's breakdown, the love story certainly captured popular imagination. Fitzgerald's second novel, The Beautiful and the Damned (1922), which is said to be based on the couple's relationship, has been adapted to both screen and stage. A new film of the same name, thought to be starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Scott and Keira Knightley as Zelda, is scheduled for release in 2010. For more on Zelda's mental health see 'Bookmark' for page 111: 'Scott did not write anything any more...'.