As The Beautiful and Damned neared publication, Burton Rascoe, the freshly appointed literary editor of the New York Tribune, approached Zelda for an opportunity to entice readers with a cheeky review of Scott's latest work.
In her review, she made joking reference to the use of her diaries in Scott's work, but the lifted material became a genuine source of resentment: To begin with, every one must buy this book for the following aesthetic reasons: First, because I know where there is the cutest cloth of gold dress for only 0 in a store on Forty-second Street, and, also, if enough people buy it where there is a platinum ring with a complete circlet, and, also, if loads of people buy it my husband needs a new winter overcoat, although the one he has done well enough for the last three years ...
He was so taken by Zelda that he redrafted the character of Rosalind Connage in This Side of Paradise to resemble her, Zelda was more than a mere muse, however—after she showed Scott her personal diary, he used verbatim excerpts from it in his novel, at the conclusion of This Side of Paradise, the soliloquy of the protagonist Amory Blaine in the cemetery, for example, is taken directly from her journal.
It seems to me that on one page I recognized a portion of an old diary of mine which mysteriously disappeared shortly after my marriage, and, also, scraps of letters which, though considerably edited, sound to me vaguely familiar; in fact, Mr.
Fitzgerald—I believe that is how he spells his name—seems to believe that plagiarism begins at home.
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.
The family was descended from early settlers of Long Island, who had moved to Alabama before the Civil War. In 1914, Sayre began attending Sidney Lanier High School, she was bright, but uninterested in her lessons.