Photo of Zelda Sayre( a.k.a Zelda Fitzgerald)


Lifetime: 1900 - 1948 Passed: ≈ 76 years ago


Novelist, short story Writer, Poet, Dancer, Painter, Socialite


United States

Zelda Fitzgerald

Born in Montgomery, Alabama, Zelda Sayre was the youngest of six children. Her mother, Minerva Buckner "Minnie" Machen (November 23, 1860 - January 13, 1958), named her after characters in two little-known stories: Jane Howard's "Zelda: A Tale of the Massachusetts Colony" (1866) and Robert Edward Francillon's "Zelda's Fortune" (1874). A spoiled child, Zelda was doted upon by her mother, but her father, Anthony Dickinson Sayre (1858-1931)—a justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama and one of Alabama's leading jurists—was a strict and remote man.

As a child, Zelda Sayre was extremely active. She danced, took ballet lessons and enjoyed the outdoors in 1914, Sayre began attending Sidney Lanier High School. She was bright, but uninterested in her lessons. Her work in ballet continued into high school, where she had an active social life. She drank, smoked and spent much of her time with boys, and she remained a leader in the local youth social scene. 

A newspaper article about one of her dance performances quoted her as saying that she cared only about "boys and swimming." She developed an appetite for attention, actively seeking to flout convention—whether by dancing or by wearing a tight, flesh-coloured bathing suit to fuel rumours that she swam nude. Her father's reputation was something of a safety net, preventing her social ruin, but Southern women of the time were expected to be delicate, docile and accommodating. Consequently, Sayre's antics were shocking to many of those around her, and she became—along with her childhood friend and future Hollywood starlet Tallulah Bankhead—a mainstay of Montgomery gossip. Her ethos was encapsulated beneath her high-school graduation photo:

Why should all life be work, when we all can borrow? Let's think only of today, and not worry about tomorrow.

Books by Zelda Fitzgerald