On Friday, January 27, Amazon Prime Video will be releasing a 10-episode bio-series on the life of writer and icon Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald. The Amazon Original, titled “Z: The Beginning of Everything,” stars Christina Ricci as Zelda Fitzgerald and follows the Southern Belle turned flapper on a wild ride through the Jazz Age.
The series, loosely based on Therese Anne Fowler’s Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, gives Zelda the spotlight instead of her husband and acclaimed novelist, F. Scott Fitzgerald (David Hoflin). While the series recounts the romance and the turmoil, it also allows attention to be on the immensely talented, ambitious, daring individual that inspired countless heroines. Before she has her chance to shine, here are some interesting facts about Zelda Fitzgerald.
1. Zelda was a rebellious, free spirit
Named after Robert Edward Francillon’s gypsy heroine in the short story “Zelda’s Fortune,” Zelda Sayre was the pinnacle of rebellion in her hometown of Montgomery, Alabama, often sneaking out and anxious to be on her own. After her high school graduation, Zelda’s live-for-the-moment spirit shined when she wrote: “Why should all life be work, when we can all borrow? Let’s think only of today, and not worry about tomorrow.”
2. Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald frequently stole from one another
They stole ideas that is. There was no question that Zelda was her husband’s muse. Several of Fitzgerald’s heroines were based on Zelda as well as the couple’s interactions and experiences. In The Great Gatsby, for example, Fitzgerald wrote Jay Gatsby’s first encounter with Daisy Buchanan to fictionalize his own first encounter with Zelda. However, eventually the line has to be drawn, especially when lifting diary entries nearly verbatim. According to The New York Times, Fitzgerald often drew “freely from Zelda’s diaries, letters and experiences…for his own work.”
Zelda fought back and within two months her autobiographical novel, Save Me the Waltz, was published detailing such themes as “a married couple in free-fall; a wife hospitalized.” Fitzgerald later accused her of stealing the ideas he was going to use in Tender Is the Night as well as the name of a previous character.
3. Zelda was an artist
In addition to being a strong writer, Zelda Fitzgerald was also a gifted artist. In 1996, her granddaughter, Eleanor Anne Lanahan, compiled 140 illustrations and 80 paintings all done by her grandmother into Zelda: An Illustrated Life: The Private World of Zelda Fitzgerald. Her artwork includes paper dolls crafted for her daughter, Scottie, illustrations from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, and many scenes from New York City where she resided with Fitzgerald for some time.
4. Zelda was a ballet dancer
Adding to her list of talents, Zelda decided to pursue ballet with acclaimed Russian dancer, Madame Lubov Egorova. Though nearing her 30’s, Zelda was determined to reach professional standards, the pursuit becoming an obsession. She practiced for hours to reach perfection until ultimately suffering from a mental collapse.
5. In 1948, Zelda was killed in a fire
Following her mental collapse in 1930, Zelda was in and out of facilities for mental illness. She was maintaining residence at Highland Hospital in Ashville, North Carolina when a fire broke out March 10, 1948. Zelda and eight other women were killed. She was laid to rest with Fitzgerald who passed in 1940 from a heart attack. Inscribed on their tomb is the very last line of The Great Gatsby. It reads:
“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
Written by Carlie Sisco