Welcome to the official home of Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald
To speak of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald is to invoke the Jazz Age, romance, and outrageous early success with all its attendant perils. Their names summon flappers, reckless spending, gleaming hotel lobbies, smoky speakeasies, ocean journeys, white suits, smart dresses, and a nostalgia for lost innocence. In spite of leading short, nomadic lives they defined an era and left an abundance of artistic achievements.
In this site, we, their family, present Scott and Zelda's meteoric rise, their tragic tumble, their enduring romance and their brilliant legacy, told in Scott and Zelda's own words as much as possible, as they tell it best. Besides, wrote their daughter Scottie, "they were a couple of very honest people."Scroll To Experience ↓
St. Paul, MN
September 24 1896 Francis Scott Fitzgerald is born in St. Paul, Minnesota. He shows exceptional literary talent in grade school; he’s a precocious observer of money, power and character.
Scott enters Princeton University with the class of 1917.
July 24, 1900 Zelda Sayre is born in Montgomery, Alabama. Her father is a judge and a pillar of the community. As the youngest of five children, Zelda's enthusiasms are indulged by her devoted mother.
Zelda graduates from Sidney Lanier High School. She is a wildly popular belle of regional renown, and a talented dancer, painter, and writer.
Scott is stationed at Camp Sheridan near Montgomery. Expecting to die in the trenches of Europe, he hurriedly writes his first novel, The Romantic Egoist, about his education and personal awakening. He submits it to Scribner’s. It is rejected but the editors would like to see revisions.
Scott and Zelda meet at a country club dance in Montgomery. Scott is captivated by Zelda although she keeps several suitors on a string.
Zelda writes to Scott about an afternoon she spends in the Oakwood Cemetery. He attributes her musings to Amory Blaine, his novel’s protagonist.
The Great War has ended and Scott is discharged from the army. He finds employment in New York City at an advertising agency. He makes three visits to Montgomery. Scott, a penniless Yankee and unpublished writer, does not win the approval of Zelda’s parents. When he proposes marriage, Zelda declines.
New York, NY
When This Side of Paradise is accepted by Scribner’s, Zelda accepts Scott’s proposal of marriage.
New York, NY
A week before their wedding, Scott’s first novel, This Side of Paradise, is published to instant acclaim. Zelda’s painting commemorates their wedding on April 3, 1920. The entire city seems to celebrate. A magnanimous hand showers theater tickets on the crowd, as the wedding party merges with an Easter parade. Scott and Zelda are overnight celebrities and spokespeople for their generation. Scott chronicles the dawn of the Jazz Age (a term he invents) --"the greatest, gaudiest spree in history."
New York, NY
Scott publishes his first collection of short stories, Flappers and Philosophers
Zelda is his highly quotable side-kick, the quintessential flapper, his accomplice in high-jinx and the model for most of his romantic heroines. They are reckless with their resources and they party with the abandon. Throughout, Scott remains productive. Early in the marriage, when Scott felt compelled to find them a permanent home, Zelda talked him right out of it.
Westport & Montgomery
Zelda and Scott take a road trip from their rented house in Westport, CT to Alabama. The resulting story, Cruise of The Rolling Junk , was published in Motor Magazine.
Europe & St. Paul
Scott & Zelda travel to Europe before the birth of their baby.
Scott and Zelda’s only child, Frances Scott Fitzgerald, is born October 26, 1921. in St. Paul, Minnesota. They call her Scotty (and later, Scottie). A nanny now joins the family entourage. March 1922 Scott’s second novel, The Beautiful and Damned, is published. Zelda reviews the book, claiming parts of it were poached from her diaries — the first sign of their struggles to come.
The family settles on Long Island where Scott observes the privileged through his moral mid-western lens. Here he conceives The Great Gatsby. This iconic American novel embodies the American Dream. Gatsby, a self-made man, is a romantic who invents his past and hopes to recapture his first love.
Scott’s story, The Diamond as Big As The Ritz is published in Smart Set. Sometimes accused of being an apologist for the rich, Scott’s relationship to the rich is far more complex.
Scott publishes Tales Of The Jazz Age, his second collection of short stories. He also writes a play, The Vegetable, that flops when it opens in Atlantic City. Zelda and Scott spend his earnings like millionaires, squandering their funds.
Although The Great Gatsby is conceived on Long Island, frequent parties and excessive drinking encroach on Scott’s work. In 1923 he makes a serious appraisal of their finances. This year he has earned $28,000 but has spent $36,000. Either they can budget for half a nanny, Scott writes, a one-legged butler, or they can move to Europe.
The Fitzgeralds steam to France on the Minnewaska, - escaping prohibition, the high cost of living in America, and, they hope, their own bad habits. "Besides," says Zelda, "I hate a room without an open suitcase in it -- it seems so permanent."
The Fitzgeralds rent the Villa Marie in Saint-Raphaël. Scott writes the Great Gatsby.
Through their expatriate friends, Sara and Gerald Murphy, Scott and Zelda join the Lost Generation, mingling with Fernand Leger, Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Ernest Hemingway, and Gertrude Stein. Zelda's ambitions are sparked and she begins to seek an artistic identity of her own
Scott makes final revisions to The Great Gatsby in Rome. Zelda takes her first painting lessons on the Island of Capri.
The family travels through France and settles in Paris. They will spend their lives in hotels and rentals, never owning a home.
The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby is published, greeted by tepid reviews and disappointing sales. The Fitzgeralds spend the summer of 1926 at Villa St. Louis in Juan-les-Pins. The Great Gatsby is followed by publication of a story collection, All The Sad Young Men.
Return To America
The Fitzgeralds return briefly to America on the Conte Biancamano. They settle in a rented house in Wilmington, Delaware where Zelda begins dance lessons. In January Scott works on the film script for Lipstick in Hollywood. He and Zelda stay at the Ambassador Hotel.
Scott & Zelda return to France. Zelda, age 28, begins rigorous ballet training with Lubov Egorova in Paris. After a year Zelda is invited to dance Aida with the Royal Ballet of Italy, an offer she declines. She also writes several short stories for College Humor.
Scott, always a heavy drinker, has become an alcoholic. Just as the stock market crashes in America, Scott and Zelda's fairy tale lives are becoming a cautionary tale.
Zelda, after a manic period of ballet training, is hospitalized for nervous exhaustion. Soon after, she is diagnosed with schizophrenia. In June she enters Prangins clinic in Switzerland. Scottie remains in school in Paris. Scott visits when doctors allow it. He is mired in financial troubles. His 4th novel, Tender is the Night, is stalled for seven years.
The Great Depression brings smaller fees for Scott’s short stories, the family's only reliable income. They are broke, with mounting medical expenses. A cycle begins of Scott borrowing money from his agent and publisher, then trying to write himself out of debt. Zelda and Scott’s love endures these calamities.
With Zelda in remission, the Fitzgeralds return to Montgomery. Scott spends months in Hollywood working on a script for Red-Headed Woman. While he’s gone, Zelda begins a novel and writes several short stories.
Zelda relapses and enters the Phipps Psychiatric clinic in Baltimore. Scott and Scottie rent a house nearby. Within a couple of months at Phipps, Zelda completes her novel, Save Me The Waltz. Before it is published, Scott and Zelda fiercely dispute their rights to their shared autobiographical material. Scott, as the breadwinner, lays claim to parts of their history for his novel Tender Is the Night.
Zelda’s play, Scandalabra, is produced in Baltimore. At her doctors’ urging, she turns her talents from writing to painting and is an out-patient at John’s Hopkins Hospital. Scott, feeling emotionally bankrupt, drinks heavily and goes deeper into debt. He moves into an apartment in Baltimore. Zelda enters Craig House, a clinic in Beacon, N.Y
Tender Is The Night
Tender Is The Night, Scott’s fourth novel, is published, followed, in 1935 by a story collection, Taps At Reveille. 1935-36 Scott writes The Crack-Up essays, published serially in Esquire Magazine. These confessional writings reinforce the public perception that he’s washed up as a writer.
Zelda enters Highland Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina. Scott lives partly in Tryon & Asheville, and partly in Baltimore where Scottie, age 15, attends school. When Scottie enters boarding school, Scott’s literary agent, Harold Ober, and his wife Anne, become her surrogate parents.
In the depths of the Depression, Scott accepts work as a screenwriter for Metro Goldwyn Mayer in Hollywood. Now sober, he hopes this will be his Second Act. Scott develops a tempestuous relationship with Hollywood gossip columnist, Sheilah Graham, which she later chronicles in her book, The Beloved Infidel. Scott repays his debts and writes a now-famous series of letters to Scottie, in an attempt to parent long-distance.
When MGM doesn't renew Scott’s contract, he turns to creating the brilliant and humorous Pat Hobby Stories, about a deadbeat screenwriter. He draws on his own experience in the movie industry. In New York, Scottie enters Vassar College.
Zelda's last glimpse of Scott is when they take a brief trip to Cuba. He drinks so heavily that Zelda has to make arrangements for him to be hospitalized. She returns to Highland Hospital alone, making no mention of her chaperon’s behavior to hospital authorities, and for this discretion Scott thanks her.
Dec 21, 1940 Scott dies suddenly of a heart attack, age 44. Still the bench mark for talent and elegant prose, Scott’s literary legacy includes 5 novels and 170 short stories which are enjoyed the world over. The Last Tycoon, Scott’s unfinished novel about Hollywood, is published posthumously, in 1941.
New York City
Scottie marries ensign Jack Lanahan. Zelda is not well enough to attend the wedding.
Zelda finds inspiration with the birth of her grandson, Tim. She makes him a portfolio of paper dolls, fairy tales and Biblical illustrations. From memory, she also paints many of the places she lived with Scott. For months at a time, Zelda is able to live quietly at her mother’s home in Montgomery, working in her garden, and painting in a studio she sets up in the garage.
Zelda dies in a fire at the Highland Hospital in Asheville. Her vibrant paintings are among the few tangible mementos of Scott & Zelda’s lives.
A fragment of Zelda's fiction, begun in 1942, after Scott's death, sings the last refrain. "Nobody has ever measured, even the poets, how much a heart can hold, though much poetic resource has been dedicated to its running over... tomb-stones tell the story of a really broken heart..."The End