I finally made it to the Fitzgerald Museum in Montgomery, Alabama. This museum has
been on my list of
things to do for several years, but each time I get near Montgomery it seems like I get... Anyway, I
made it and had a fantastic visit. I highly recommend this museum.
The Fitzgerald House, built in 1910, was the residence of F. Scott, Zelda and their daughter, Scottie, from 1931 to 1932. The house was saved from demolition in 1986, making it the only remaining residence (and museum dedicated to the honor) of this famous couple. The house is now the Fitzgerald Museum, a non-profit organization dedicated to celebrating the life and works of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.
The folks at the museum have done a wonderful job collecting and presenting artifacts that depict the lives of the Fitzgerald's. If you get a chance to visit the museum, make sure you take the guided tour. Willie does a wonderful job bringing the Fitzgerald's history to life. Thanks again, Willie.
The relationship between Scott and Zelda is like an American Tragedy - a clash of cultures. Scott, 21-year-old army second lieutenant with limited income from the north stationed in the Deep South, meets and falls in love with Zelda, a young woman whose family is an influential part of the local culture. Zelda Sayre was the youngest child of Alabama Supreme Court Justice Anthony Dickson Sayre and Minnie Buckner Machen Sayre, a prominent middle-class couple with roots in both Montgomery and Confederate history. (Judge Sayre's uncle William was a prominent Montgomery merchant whose home eventually became Jefferson Davis's first White House; Mrs. Sayre's father was a Kentucky senator in the Confederate Congress).
Scott asks Zelda to marry him and the story begins. Zelda's initial response was that she did not believe he could afford to keep her in the life-style she was accustomed to. But after much persistence, the young struggling novelist and the southern socialite were married. Her father was so against the marriage that he does not attend the wedding.
Scott is now widely regarded as one of the twentieth century's greatest writers. He is considered a member of the "Lost Generation" of the 1920s. He finished four novels, This Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and Damned, Tender Is the Night and The Great Gatsby. A fifth, unfinished novel, The Love of the Last Tycoon was published posthumously.
Although Zelda is best known for her extravagant public persona and descent into mental illness, she is also remembered as an artist and author in her own right, and both her vivacity and tragedy live on in the many characters she inspired in her husband's novels and short stories.
During this period, Scott and Zelda became popular-culture icon who helped to establish the Roaring Twenties image of liberated womanhood. They embraced the freedoms and excesses of the 1920s Jazz Age, and Zelda was an icon of the "flapper" lifestyle and a symbol of the emerging cultural fascination with youth, conspicuous consumption, and leisure. I believe they were the Kardashians of their time.
Scott Fitzgerald's passion lay in writing novels. His first two novels sold well, but he had to find other ways to support the opulent lifestyle that he and Zelda adopted as New York celebrities. (The Great Gatsby, now considered to be his masterpiece, did not become popular until after his death.) Because of this lifestyle, as well as, the bills from Zelda's medical care, Fitzgerald was constantly in financial trouble. Scott turned to writing shortstories and often required loans from his literary agent, Harold Ober, and his editor at Scribner's, Maxwell Perkins. When Ober decided not to continue advancing money to Fitzgerald, the author severed ties with his longtime friend and agent. (Fitzgerald offered a good-hearted and apologetic tribute to this support in the late short story "Financing Finnegan.")
Fitzgerald began working on his fourth novel during the late 1930s but was sidetracked by financial difficulties that necessitated his writing commercial short stories, and by the schizophrenia that struck Zelda in 1930. Her emotional health remained fragile for the rest of her life. In 1932, she was hospitalized at the Phipps Clinic at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland. During this time, Scott rented the "La Paix" estate in the suburb of Towson, Maryland to work on his latest book, the story of the rise and fall of Dick Diver, a promising young psychiatrist who falls in love with and marries Nicole Warren, one of his patients.
After being diagnosed with schizophrenia, Zelda was increasingly confined to specialist clinics, and the couple was living apart when Scott died suddenly of a heart attack on December 21, 1940. Zelda died later in a fire at her hospital in Asheville, North Carolina March 10, 1948.
Tuesday thru Saturday 10 am till 3 pm
Sunday 10 am till 5 pm
Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum
919 Felder Ave.
Montgomery, Alabama 36106