During WWI, F. Scott Fitzgerald was assigned as a lieutenant in an infantry near Montgomery, Alabama.
In a country club there, he met and instantly fell in love with Zelda Sayre, the wealthy daughter of an Alabama Supreme Court justice and the woman whom Fitzgerald would later anoint “the first American flapper.”
The courtship continued through the war and once it ended, Fitzgerald — an aspiring writer working for an advertising agency and living in a single-room occupancy in Manhattan’s Morningside Heights — finally convinced Zelda to marry him.
On 3 April, 1920 — exactly a week after Fitzgerald’s debut novel, This Side of Paradise, was published — the two exchanged wedding vows at New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
One of literary history’s most turbulent and dramatic relationships ensued — Scott was a ladies’ man since boyhood and Zelda developed an intoxicating obsession with ballet, which swept her into a downward spiral of physical and mental illness, which culminated with a breakdown in the spring of 1930.
Perhaps ironically, despite spending the latter half of her life in and out of hospitals and psychiatric wards, Zelda outlived Scott, who died from a heart attack after years of heavy drinking, only to perish herself in a fire at Highland Hospital.
Theirs was a love that burned with such a destructive flame that it charred both of them into the ground.
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