Zelda Fitzgerald

(Montgomery, Alabama, 1900 - 1948, Asheville, North Carolina)

North America, American

Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald was “the first American flapper” in the 1920s. She was dubbed that by her husband, famous American novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald. The couple had a glamorous, wild lifestyle and a tumultuous marriage that received extensive public scrutiny due to their celebrity. When Zelda saw that Scott had plagiarized her diaries and used their life together as fodder for his fiction, she sought her own artistic identity through writing, dance and painting. Her dream of becoming a ballerina never came to fruition, but her novels, short stories and articles were published during her lifetime.
Although Zelda had had art instruction as a child, she began studying seriously in 1925. A mental breakdown led to her hospitalization in 1930 and she was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia. Her doctors encouraged her to continue painting as part of her therapy. Her subjects included flowers, landscapes and cityscapes, portraits and fairy tales. She also made several series of very charming paper dolls for her daughter. Zelda spent the rest of her life in and out of hospitals. No matter what the environment, she devoted her time to writing and painting. Her death, in a hospital fire in 1948, aroused new interest in her life. In the 1960s her writings began to receive serious scholarly; the publication of a biography in the 1970s turned her into a feminist icon.

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