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Fitzgerald Walking Tour

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F. Scott Fitzgerald

Welcome to the F. Scott Fitzgerald Tour, presented by Special Collections and University Archives at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. This tour can be taken online or in-person, although transportation will be needed to navigate Asheville and the surrounding areas.

F. Scott Fitzgerald is best known for his works that depict America at the height of the Jazz Age. He and his wife Zelda traveled to the grandest cities in America and Europe, and spent time in western North Carolina during the later years of their lives. In 1936, Zelda was moved to Highland Hospital in Asheville to treat her schizophrenia, and Scott stayed at the local Grove Park Inn during the summers of 1935 and 1936. At the Grove Park Inn, he rented two rooms, one for living and one for writing. It is said that he requested a room to give him the best view of interesting women arriving.

It was during his time in western North Carolina that Fitzgerald wrote "The Crack Up," an essay in which he details his struggled with his own mental health issues. The essay was panned at the time for its vulnerability and personal revelations. He also wrote a poem, now lost, about the ice cream served at a pharmacy in Tryon, North Carolina.

Meanwhile, Zelda’s treatment did seem to be working, and in her later years she took up painting. The couple rarely visited one another, because they found that in moments of fragility they only exacerbated one another’s problems. The last time they saw each other was in 1938, after a trip to Cuba, when Scott was hospitalized after returning to the United States injured and intoxicated. Scott went west in 1937 in an attempt to reignite his career, and begun working on The Last Tycoon. He never completed the manuscript, dying in 1940 in Hollywood, California. Zelda grew increasingly lonely at Highland Hospital and that same year was allowed to live with her mother in Montgomery, Alabama, returning to Asheville frequently for further treatment.

It was on one such visit in 1948 that a fire broke out in the hospital. Zelda and nine other women died that night, unable to escape when the wooden fire escape was also set aflame. At the time she had been working on her own novel: Caesar’s Things. The two were buried together in Rockland, Maryland. In the end, the mountains of North Carolina proved to be a brief respite in their chaotic lives.

 

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