The Life and Times of Zelda Fitzgerald

Zelda Fitzgerald an American IconWe all have our idols. We change our outfits, diets, home decor, and hair to be as similar to them as possible. We identify with them and know that if they could just meet us they would understand that we are destined to be best friends. However, every once in a while, there is someone who transcends the position of role model and becomes an icon. They shape and represent their time era and region for generations. They surpass trends and become classics - forever frozen in their prime. When those words are used, "iconic" and "classic" images of Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, and Jackie Kennedy instantly come to mind, but, if you go a little further back, you'll find another hallmark of American history.

Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald 1920The Belle of the Ball

Born in Montgomery, Alabama in July of 1900 Zelda Fitzgerald stood out as exceptional. From a young age she showed passion and unique aptitude for ballet and continued to outshine her peers on and off the stage. Zelda was raised as the stereotypical southern belle. For her, that meant lots of events at the country club, where, after high school she met her future husband F. Scott Fitzgerald at a dance. After their initial meeting, Zelda told her family that she thought he was nice enough, but his goals for writing would not support a family. He, however, would not be so easily dissuaded. Their relationship bloomed from flirtation to long-distance courtship. Though courtship was the most common way for couples to interact before marriage at the turn of the century, and even courtship through letters wasn't uncommon, Zelda found a way to be unique in her relationship as well. Though she would one day become his wife, she left him in no doubt of how many options she had and continued to court other men until their marriage.
After Scott started being published Zelda strove to find a way to express her own creativity. This first was demonstrated through a phase when she vigorously studied ballet and eventually moved to publishing articles and short stories in magazines. As a byproduct of the growing fame, and Scott's alcoholism, among other things, Zelda was admitted to the Sheppard Pratt Sanatorium and was diagnosed with what was then thought to be schizophrenia, but based on her case notes was more likely bipolar disorder. Though their marriage was difficult, he husband was known to call her, "The first American flapper" and it is a title that stuck with her through all her other accomplishments. Both Zelda and Scott published novels, "Save Me the Waltz" (1932) and "Tender is the Night" (1934) respectively, which both held semi-autobiographical accounts of their relationships. In 1936 Zelda was finally moved to Highland Mental Hospital in Asheville. While Asheville wasn't her home from the beginning of her life, it was the last place she saw her husband alive, where she found out he had died, where she spent her last years writing and painting, and where she had finally died in 1948.
Asheville reaches out to even the most tortured of souls and applies a salve that no where else can offer. Zelda went from a brilliant youth to a bitter marriage and was misunderstood through it all. Asheville was finally a place she could find peace and acceptance for her creative expression and if she could find it, goodness knows you can too.
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