This selection of Zelda Fitzgerald’s letters —the bulk published here for the first time — was originally put together as a kind of worksheet for a playwright preparing a drama based on Zelda’s tragic life. The letters were put into this form by an actress. Lane Yorke, who longed to perform the role of Zelda on the stage. In Georgetown Mrs. Yorke met Scottie Fitzgerald Smith, the only child of Zelda and Scott, who gave her permission to research the Fitzgerald archives at the Firestone Library at Princeton. The Zelda letters, then a haphazard collection of some 1700 items kept in large cardboard boxes, were often difficult to decipher. Written on plain stationery, the letters had neither headings as to the locale of their origins, nor were they dated, except, occasionally, with a reference to the month. The punctuation was infrequent and inconsistent. The handwriting varied so greatly among the letters over their twenty-eight-year period that it seemed there were several different authors. Some examples variation are reproduced within the following text.
Mrs. Yorke first edited the letters as a guide for playwright Bill Luce, the author of The Belle of Amherst, a Broadway-produced play about Emily Dickinson. Luce worked on the play about Zelda throughout 1979. In 1980, with Lane Yorke in the title role, the play, which was entitled Zelda, was performed for three weeks at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina. Lane Yorke was the star for an hour and forty minutes of what was essentially a single-role dramatization (a doctor put in a brief appearance).
Mrs. Yorke has divided this worksheet into five sections—geographical locations where Zelda was at the time the letters were composed. She has also provided introductory notes for each section, and an epilogue. In the interest of readability, the following worksheet has been slightly altered and reedited for magazine publication, although an effort has been made to preserve many of Zelda’s original quirks of hyphenation and punctuation. Asterisks denote substantial editorial deletions and ellipses are used to indicate minor omissions. The letters are addressed to F. Scott Fitzgerald unless otherwise indicated.