Zelda: A Biography

( 22 )

Overview

Zelda Sayre started out as a Southern beauty, became an international wonder, and died by fire in a madhouse. With her husband, F. Scott Fitzgerald, she moved in a golden aura of excitement, romance, and promise. The epitome of the Jazz Age, they rode the crest of the era to its collapse and their own.

As a result of years of exhaustive research, Nancy Milford brings alive the tormented, elusive personality of Zelda and clarifies as never before her relationship with Scott ...

See more details below
Paperback (Reissue)
$10.12
BN.com price
(Save 36%)$15.99 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (23) from $1.99   
  • New (7) from $4.52   
  • Used (16) from $1.99   
Zelda: A Biography

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$11.49
BN.com price

Overview

Zelda Sayre started out as a Southern beauty, became an international wonder, and died by fire in a madhouse. With her husband, F. Scott Fitzgerald, she moved in a golden aura of excitement, romance, and promise. The epitome of the Jazz Age, they rode the crest of the era to its collapse and their own.

As a result of years of exhaustive research, Nancy Milford brings alive the tormented, elusive personality of Zelda and clarifies as never before her relationship with Scott Fitzgerald. Zelda traces the inner disintegration of a gifted, despairing woman, torn by the clash between her husband’s career and her own talent.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062089397
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 11/29/2011
  • Series: P.S. Series
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 223,541
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Nancy Milford holds both an M.A. and a Ph.D. from Columbia University where Zelda was her dissertation. She has held a Guggenheim Fellowship in Biography, and has served on the boards of the Authors Guild, the Society of American Historians, and the Writers Room, of which she is a founder. Her most recent book is Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay. She lives in Manhattan.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One



If there was a confederate establishment in the Deep South, Zelda Sayre came from the heart of it. Willis B. Machen, Zelda's maternal grandfather, was an energetic entrepreneur tough enough to endure several careers and robust enough to outlive two of his three wives. He came to Kentucky from South Carolina as a boy when the new state was still a frontier. Young Machen began his career refining iron with a partner in Lyon County; soon he was successful enough to open his own business. It failed, and he was nearly ruined; but he managed to repay his debts and begin again. He built turnpikes until a severe injury forced him to turn in a completely fresh direction, the law. He never failed again. Soon he had built up a large clientele in the southwestern part of the state, and he became a member of the convention that framed the constitution of Kentucky.

He served as a state senator until the outbreak of the Civil War, at which time Kentucky, a border state, was violently embroiled in choosing sides. Although the state formally declared its allegiance to the Union, the secessionists, Machen prominent among them, set up a provisional state government. He was elected to the Confederate Congress by residents of his district and by the soldiers in the field. At the close of the war, fearing reprisals, he fled to Canada. His third wife and their young daughter Minnie joined him shortly afterward.

Machen was pardoned and returned to Kentucky. He was urged to accept the nomination for governor of the state but declined because of some confusion about his eligibility. In 1872 he wasappointed to the United States Senate, in which he served for four months. At the Democratic National Convention in Baltimore in July of the same year his name was presented by the delegationfrom Kentucky for the Vice-Presidential nomination. It was a distinction he did not achieve.

By 1880 Machen was a powerful member of the Kentucky railroad commission and his patronage was eagerly sought. He chose to retire to his fine red-brick manor house, Mineral Mount, near Eddyville, Kentucky; it stood on three thousand acres in the fertile valley of the Cumberland River, and there he raised tobacco. The pastoral elegance of Machen's splendid home must have been somewhat diminished by the running of the Chesapeake & Ohio railroad line past the foot of the hill upon which Mineral Mount was built. Still, Machen had achieved the pinnacle of Southern society, for as both planter and lawyer he belonged to the ruling class. And it was in that atmosphere of privilege that young Minnie grew up.

In a scrapbook which Zelda kept during her girlhood there is a photograph of her mother taken when Minnie Machen was nineteen. Her curling hair is caught up in a braided bun behind her pierced ears, from which fall small jeweled earrings in the shape of flowers. It is a pretty face, which with maturity would become handsome, for it is wellboned and definite. Her nose is straight, her square chin determined-looking, and only the thinness of her lips mars a face that would otherwise have been called beautiful. Beneath the photograph is the inscription "The Wild Lily of the Cumberland."

Minnie was the artistic member of her family and her poems and short sketches were frequently published in local Kentucky newspapers. She was an ardent reader of fiction and poetry, and when she ran out of books to read she turned to the encyclopedia.

But her dreams centered upon the stage. She had a small clear soprano voice and she played the piano nicely. Her father sent her for "finishing" to Miss Chilton's School in Montgomery, Alabama. His good friend Senator John Tyler Morgan lived in Montgomery, and it was at a New Year's Eve ball given by the Morgans that Minnie met a nephew of Senator Morgan's, the quiet and courtly young lawyer Anthony Dickinson Sayre, whom she would eventually marry.

She was not, however, so smitten by Mr. Sayre that she would relinquish a trip to Philadelphia which she had persuaded her father to allow her. She spent the winter season in Philadelphia with friends of her family, and while there she pursued her secret ambition by studying elocution. When Georgia Drew, the head of the famous Drew-Barrymore theatrical family, held a tryout for one of her plays, Minnie read for her and was offered a role in the company. Machen learned of his daughter's adventure and was outraged. He ordered her home at once, telling her that he would rather see her dead than on the stage. Minnie returned to Kentucky immediately, but she had suffered a disappointment she never forgot. Years later, with her family grown and out of her home, she shifted the story slightly, remarking to a neighbor that if she hadn't married judge Sayre she would have had a career in the opera or on the stage; she reconciled herself by singing in the choir of the Church of the Holy Comforter, which she attended without her husband.

Anthony Sayre's family took pride in having been among the early settlers of Long Island, and they eventually came to Alabama, via New Jersey and Ohio, after the territory achieved statehood in 1819. By the time of the Civil War, some forty years later, their sentiments were entirely Southern.

Anthony's father founded and edited a newspaper in the rural town of Tuskegee and later moved to Montgomery, where he was editor of the Post. Sayre Street, which ran through the most fashionable section of Montgomery, was named in honor of Anthony's uncle, who had built the White House of the Confederacy for Jefferson Davis and who was a founder of the First Presbyterian Church. Anthony's mother, Musidora Morgan, was the sister of Senator John Tyler Morgan, who served in the United States Senate for thirty-one years...

Zelda. Copyright © by Nancy Milford. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 22 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(9)

4 Star

(4)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(6)

1 Star

(2)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 22 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 4, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Poor Zelda

    I never thought I'd even want to read about Zelda Fitzgerald because I read all about Hemingway first and he didn't like her and I admit that influenced my opinion of her. Then one day I read that she died in a fire in mental hospital. That piqued my interest so I bought the book and am glad to say was not disappointed. I still don't "like" Zelda, but do understand her as a person more because of this extremely detailed book. It is one of the better biographies I've ever read. F.Scott Fitzgerald is part of the package of course. After reading Zelda, I don't feel the need to read his bio, Nancy Milford has told me everything I ever wanted to know about him too. I like reading about the 20's and all those glamourous Americans abroud in the years between the wars. This book gives you all the details, and I was not surprised at all that none of them really had as grand a time as the pictures make it look. What a price they all paid for all the debauchery. I liked the book, it provoked a sense of pity for this fragile, mentally ill china doll that was Zelda. I won't read it again, not because it's not good, but because it is more of an educational book than one I turn to for pleasure. It is the most thourough book I've read on life between the wars.

    11 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2005

    Left me with as many questions as it answered

    Love the writings of Scott Fitzgerald and have always heard rumor of Zelda and their tragic romance which sounded intriguing to me so I decided to read this book. It was very interested and written very well, except that there were many things that I did not understand about Zelda after I finished reading the book; mainly, how did she start out being such a strong person and then finally end up in the state that she was in. The book did not make that clear to me, I was able to speculate a lot of reasons why this may have come about from the information that she gave but was never clear about it. None-the-less, I did enjoy the book, interesting whether you are interested in the Fitzgerald's, women's topics, that certain era in history, or just a good story, this book would fulfill any of those need.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2004

    Another excellent window into the lives of American writers and writing in the early 20th century

    Once again, Mitford does not disappoint. I picked this up casually as I am teaching a bit of Fitzgerald (F. Scott, that is) and thought it might provide interesting insight into the work. Finding that I just couldn't put it down, I read it in two sittings. While Mitford tries valiently to remain neutral, the conclusions one must of necessity draw from the facts she persuasively sets forth puts an entirely new face on the canon and renders the Fitzgerald's decline and early deaths far more understandable. I found the portions dealing with Hemingway of particular interest. An excellent read, hugely interesting to those who read and study the Fizgeralds' work.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 28, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    Zelda was a deeply tortured soul. The author (Nancy Milford) br

    Zelda was a deeply tortured soul. The author (Nancy Milford) brings her story to life in a breathtaking way.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2008

    Informative Read...

    Scott and Zelda were the ¿it couple¿ of the twenties. Milford uses both narrative and the selected writings of both the Fitzgeralds to paint a marriage that is glamorous and troubled from the beginning to each of these stars tragic ends. High recommended for any fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald, women¿s studies or for those wanting a glimpse into a vanished age.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2014

    Well researched bio

    Nancy Milford always does well researched bios and Zelda is no exception. She recreates Zelda,s world with interviews from many people who knew Zelda and Scott personally. Fascinating read which takes you back to the twenties and beyond. Some of the writings of Zelda are given and while not always interesting are a look into a brilliant mind that was very ill.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2004

    incredible

    i actually picked up this book at random... and couldn't put it down. the excerpts from zelda's letters and writing are amazing. it was interesting to hear the back-story to some of the greatest books of all time.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2014

    Miku

    Im going to my dads so i wont b on for a week bye.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2014

    The critique of writer seems to be alcoholic

    These bios of dysfunctioning artists less the appeal of their books she was also bi polar just finished two novels and find they both have a tell all book about their time as a drunk and drugs

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2014

    Zeldas tragedy Scotts inspiration? TEDIOUS

    Zelda wrote ,but not well enough to be published,or successsful. This book recaps the smallest details of all of these stories from a very mentally ill Zelda. The reading is tedious!
    Zeldas illness may have been one of the most important factors in Scots being such a great writer.

    I would not read this unless you love Fitzgerald!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 24, 2014

    Not so hot

    In fact, it was so uninteresting that I read only enough to find out I didn't like it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2014

    Alright...

    ... somewhat interesting but wouldn't recommend it to a friend

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2013

    Link to the rescue!

    Here I come.

    0 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2013

    An excellent book

    I read this years ago, and I am delighted it's available on the Nook. It is a well-researched biography and also a good read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2013

    Okay

    Not what I expected. Kind of long and drawn out.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2002

    my favorite biography

    From the author of the recent award-winning, best-selling Savage Beauty (a bio of Edna St. Vincent Millay), this is the exhaustively researched story of the original flapper. Zelda's life reads like fiction. But how else could it read considering she was the tortured wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald? That's not to say that Scott wasn't a little tortured himself. It's no use debating who drove who to destruction. You have only to read a bit of Fitzgerald to solve that mystery.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 22 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)