A letter to Scott | Zelda Fitzgerald, 1931


Zelda at the beach in Westport, Connecticut. The Fitzgeralds rented a house on Compo Beach in the summer of May 1920 where they spent a riotous summer entertaining New York friends.

“I don’t suppose I really know you very well – but I know you smell
like the delicious damp grass that grows near old walls and that your hands
are beautiful opening out of your sleeves and the back of your head is a mossy sheltered cave
when there is trouble in the wind and that my cheek just fits in the depression in your shoulder…”

Zelda Fitzgerald in a letter to F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1931

Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald
“I wish we could spend July by the sea, browning ourselves and feeling water-weighted hair flow behind us from a dive.
I wish our gravest concerns were the summer gnats.
I wish we were hungry for hot dogs and dopes, and it would be nice to smell the starch of summer linens
and the faint odor of talc in blistering summer bath houses …
We could lie in long citoneuse beams of the five o’clock sun on the plage at Juan-les-Pins
and hear the sound of the drum and piano being scooped out to sea by the waves.”
Zelda Fitzgerald in a letter to F. Scott Fitzgerald

4 thoughts on “A letter to Scott | Zelda Fitzgerald, 1931

  1. La Paix, Rodgers' Forge
    Towson, Maryland

    August 8, 1933

    Dear Pie:

    I feel very strongly about you doing duty. Would you give me a little more documentation about your reading in French? I am glad you are happy — but I never believe much in happiness. I never believe in misery either. Those are things you see on the stage or the screen or the printed pages, they never really happen to you in life.

    All I believe in in life is the rewards for virtue (according to your talents) and the punishments for not fulfilling your duties, which are doubly costly. If there is such a volume in the camp library, will you ask Mrs. Tyson to let you look up a sonnet of Shakespeare's in which the line occurs "Lillies that fester smell far worse than weeds."

    Have had no thoughts today, life seems composed of getting up a Saturday Evening Post story. I think of you, and always pleasantly; but if you call me "Pappy" again I am going to take the White Cat out and beat his bottom hard, six times for every time you are impertinent. Do you react to that?

    I will arrange the camp bill.

    Halfwit, I will conclude.

    Things to worry about:

    Worry about courage
    Worry about Cleanliness
    Worry about efficiency
    Worry about horsemanship
    Worry about. . .

    Things not to worry about:

    Don't worry about popular opinion
    Don't worry about dolls
    Don't worry about the past
    Don't worry about the future
    Don't worry about growing up
    Don't worry about anybody getting ahead of you
    Don't worry about triumph
    Don't worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault
    Don't worry about mosquitoes
    Don't worry about flies
    Don't worry about insects in general
    Don't worry about parents
    Don't worry about boys
    Don't worry about disappointments
    Don't worry about pleasures
    Don't worry about satisfactions

    Things to think about:

    What am I really aiming at?
    How good am I really in comparison to my contemporaries in regard to:

    (a) Scholarship
    (b) Do I really understand about people and am I able to get along with them?
    (c) Am I trying to make my body a useful instrument or am I neglecting it?

    With dearest love,


    P.S. My come-back to your calling me Pappy is christening you by the word Egg, which implies that you belong to a very rudimentary state of life and that I could break you up and crack you open at my will and I think it would be a word that would hang on if I ever told it to your contemporaries. "Egg Fitzgerald." How would you like that to go through life with — "Eggie Fitzgerald" or "Bad Egg Fitzgerald" or any form that might occur to fertile minds? Try it once more and I swear to God I will hang it on you and it will be up to you to shake it off. Why borrow trouble?

    Love anyhow.

    A letter F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote to his 11-year-old daughter when she was at camp.
    [ Zelda and Scottie Fitzgerald ]

  2. And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer. *

    Strange children should smile at each other and say, "Let's play.” ~

    For a moment the last sunshine fell with romantic affection upon her glowing face; her voice compelled me forward breathlessly as I listened – then the glow faded, each light deserting her with lingering regret, like children leaving a pleasant street at dusk. *

    All good writing is like swimming underwater and holding your breath.

    F. Scott Fitzgerald / *The Great Gatsby /1925 / ~Tender Is the Night /1933


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