Knightley lined up to play Scott Fitzgerald's Zelda in biopic
Zelda Sayre was one of the most controversial literary figures of her time. Some claim that her marriage to F Scott Fitzgerald inspired him to produce the Jazz Age's best novels. Others say she stifled his creativity.
The debate will be sparked again, as their troubled relationship is examined in a new biopic, The Beautiful and the Damned. Keira Knightley is said to be in negotiations to play the lead.
Zelda was a leading light of the roaring Twenties, and Fitzgerald was the era's most brilliant writer. When the two married in 1920, they were seen as the perfect society couple. But their marriage was far from ordinary – thanks, in part, to Zelda's outrageous behaviour and schizophrenia. Some literary experts suggest that it was her influence that led Fitzgerald into spiralling fits of jealously and alcoholism.
But Cathia Jenainati, associate professor of English writing at Warwick University, said: "It was Ernest Hemingway, who was friends with Fitzgerald, who started this myth that Fitzgerald's loss of social control resulted from Zelda's influence over him... But I think it is too simplistic to draw a connection between male genius and female influence. His writing did suffer but I'm not sure it was because of her influence."
The film is written by Hanna Weg, who also wrote Enigma, and directed by Nick Cassavetes. It is to begin shooting in April, although the role of Fitzgerald has not yet been cast.
The film's title is taken from Fitzgerald's second novel, which tells the story of Anthony Patch, an alcoholic socialite, and his wife Gloria. On its publication in 1922 it was hailed as a searing portrait of the eastern American elite of the Jazz Age.
Zelda grew up in a wealthy Southern family. Soon after finishing high school, she met Fitzgerald at a dance, and although he is said to have professed his infatuation, she continued seeing other men. After marrying, they spent the early part of the 1920s as literary celebrities in New York.
The strain of their union allegedly led Scott to increased alcoholism, with some noting that he never regained the critical acclaim he received for his celebrated third novel, The Great Gatsby, published in 1925. It also inflamed Zelda's mental instability, leading to her admittance to a sanatorium in 1930.
Feminists, however, have championed Zelda as a woman who stood up to an emotionally abusive partner.
While in a clinic in Maryland, Zelda wrote the novel Save me the Waltz. Fitzgerald was incensed that she had used some real-life material from their marriage even though he did the same for Tender Is The Night, in 1934. Both books presented contrasting yet insightful portrayals of their troubled marriage.
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros
Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awardsTheatre
Grace DentChannel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Rarest Beanie Baby bought for just £10 at car boot sale could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 2 Katie Hopkins and The Sun editor David Dinsmore reported to police for incitement to racial hatred following migrant boat column
- 3 Parma, Missouri: 80 per cent of town's police quit after first black mayor is elected
- 4 Australian student Tommy Connolly, 23, adopts his pregnant, homeless 17-year-old cousin to give her a chance at 'a better life'
- 5 Google search history can now be downloaded in its entirety, mass embarrassment expected
Britain's Got Talent 2015: RSPCA investigating Marc Metral's miming dog after cruelty complaints
Star Wars 7: George Lucas admits he hasn't seen The Force Awakens trailer
Star Wars: Rogue One trailer: Watch the teaser for the Jedi-less Death Star heist film
Avengers Age of Ultron 'after credits' scene leaks online days before cinema release
Groundhog Day musical to premiere at Old Vic from Matilda theatre director
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate