Zelda was the daughter of an Alabama Supreme Court judge. She grew up in Montgomery, Alabama, and at the age of eighteen, during the First World War, was pursued by the young F. Scott Fitzgerald
, then a U.S. Army lieutenant. They got engaged, but after Scott was demobbed and became a struggling advertising copywriter, Zelda broke the engagement . Then, when she was twenty, Fitzgerald published his first book, This Side of Paradise
, and Zelda married him a week later. In 1921, their only child, Frances (called Scottie), was born.
In the early years of the Fitzgerald marriage, Zelda, like Scott, wrote short stories and magazine articles, and she was seen as one of the chroniclers of the Jazz Age. After a few years, while they were living in Paris, she began to study ballet, and was bitterly disappointed to find that she had taken it up too late in life to make a success of it. Then, in the late 1920s, Zelda descended into schizophrenia, ending up as a long-term patient in mental hospitals. While in hospital, she wrote her one book, Save Me the Waltz
Fitzgerald died of a heart attack in 1940. Zelda outlived him, dying in a hospital fire in 1948.