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Who Was Zelda Fitzgerald? 5 Fascinating Facts

She was the ultimate wild child, the first American flapper, and yet Zelda Fitzgerald is often reduced to nothing more than the troubled wife of The Great Gatsby writer F. Scott Fitzgerald.

facts about Zelda Fitzgerald

Without a doubt, Zelda Fitzgerald's tragic life was frequently overshadowed by her husband's stardom, but Zelda was a creative and enthralling individual in her own right. Here are 5 fascinating facts about the queen of the Jazz Age.

1. She had a toxic relationship with F. Scott Fitzgerald

Zelda's marriage to Scott was quite tumultuous and reportedly peppered with alcoholism, mutual infidelity, and bitter jealousy. At one point, she accused Scott of having a romantic relationship with fellow writer Ernest Hemingway, and Hemingway documented the mutual dislike which existed between him and Zelda in his autobiographical book A Moveable Feast.

Although the couple never divorced, after Zelda's diagnosis of schizophrenia in 1930 and subsequent internment into a sanatorium, she and Scott were estranged up until his death in 1940.

Save Me the Waltz by Zelda Fitzgerald

2. She only published one novel

Some of the animosity between Zelda Fitzgerald and her husband can be put down to professional jealousy. Both often accused the other of plagiarism, and Scott frequently undermined Zelda's desires to be a novelist.

As a result, Zelda Fitzgerald only published a single book in her lifetime, Save Me The Waltz. Her first and last book paralleled aspects of her husband's life and the semi-autobiographical nature of the work reportedly angered Scott.

3. Creativity was her outlet

Despite only completing and publishing a single novel, Zelda Fitzgerald never gave up on her dream of being a writer. She was intensely creative throughout her entire lifetime, at one point training to be a ballet dancer and later on using painting and writing as ways to cope with her mental illness.

At the time of her death, Zelda had been working on her second novel called Caesar's Things. She was also a prolific painter and enjoyed painting Biblical scenes and, perhaps understandably, scenes from Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

The Great Gatsby word poster

4. She's featured in two of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novels

Despite disliking the way Zelda used details of their relationship in her book, Save Me The Waltz, Scott Fitzgerald wasn't shy about taking inspiration from his wife and infusing it into his own novels.

In his second novel, The Beautiful and the Damned, he parallels the breathtaking early days of his characters's marriage with his and Zelda's own. Later, in Tender is the Night, Scott Fitzgerald details the melancholy collapse of that beautiful dream and the difficult realities of his wife's mental illness.

5. She died in a fire

The exact details of Zelda's death aren't clear, but it is a known fact that she died in a tragic fire at a sanitarium. In the 1940s, following Scott's death, Zelda Fitzgerald was living at Highland Hospital in North Carolina.

According to reports, Zelda was scheduled for electroshock therapy and therefore was sedated and locked in a waiting room when the fire broke out. It quickly spread, taking the lives of eight women, including that of Zelda Fitzgerald.

Have you read Save Me The Waltz by Zelda Fitzgerald?

Tell us in the comments which fact your find the most interesting and why!

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