Lucia Joyce, Vivienne Eliot and Zelda Fitzgerald, muses of the Jazz Age (via The Book Bench)
Lucia and Zelda would spend time in the same sanatorium, Les Rives de Prangins, under the care of Dr Oscar Fogel, and were diagnosed schizophrenic, the illness believed to have been brought on by their obsession with dance. (In this, both Fitzgerald and Joyce agreed with the doctor’s attribution of blame.) But it might be argued that dance had been their most serious creative outlet; their only way out of the passivity of the muse role.
Vivienne Eliot was first sent to a sanatorium towards the end of 1925, beginning a pattern of movement into and out of psychiatric hospitals lasting until her final incarceration in 1938. In 1930, Zelda agreed to enter Malmaison, a hospital outside Paris. Lucia’s first stay at a sanatorium came in 1932. Vivienne died in Northumberland House, a private mental hospital, in 1947; Zelda at Highland Hospital in 1948. Lucia spent the last 30 years of her life at St Andrew’s Hospital in Northampton, where she died in 1982.
These are the tragic ends of the rebel muses, the flapper girls who wanted more from life than simply to inspire. It is ironic that the very age that launched them with such hope was also the age that failed to save them.
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