F Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald
They were gorgeous and extreme, talented and self-destructive, beautiful and damned. Together they defined the American Jazz Age, in its excess, glamour, style and thoughtlessness. Scott met Zelda at a dance in Montgomery Country Club, Alabama. She was the daughter of a judge, well-connected, independent-minded and ambitious - but there was a history of mental instability in her family. When his first novel, This Side of Paradise, was accepted for publication in 1920, he proposed to Zelda by wire and she accepted. It was the start of a gorgeous dream. They became fixtures in the public prints - jumping fully clothed into hotel swimming pools, whooping it up at fashionable parties, driving through Manhattan in convertibles. Then things turned sour. On the French Riviera, Zelda began to have affairs; their income stream grew thinner, and they both started to drink heavily. Zelda was the most theatrical of wives: she flung herself off a restaurant parapet when Scott flirted with Isadora Duncan, threw herself under his car wheels after a row, and burnt the clothes he'd bought her. Eventually she was admitted to a sanitarium, while Scott entered the first of several drying-out clinics, and found comfort with Sheilah Graham. But they left a legacy of spirit, energy and hopeless glamour that still inspires a certain kind of romanticism.