Auctions | March 29, 2013

Handwritten Fitzgerald Poem is Unearthed for Auction on April 2

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — "Rarely can you see, let alone own, a handwritten manuscript by someone like F. Scott Fitzgerald," said Nate D. Sanders, who is auctioning the original poem. "It's an extraordinary finding that comes along maybe once every 10 to 20 years."

Unearthed from the estate of actress Helen Hayes, whom Fitzgerald became close to during the 1930s, Fitzgerald's poem is written to Hayes' daughter, Mary, who was almost 8 years old at the time.

Part of the 6-stanza poem reads,

"...What shall I do with this bundle of stuff

Mass of ingredients, handful of grist 

Tenderest evidence, thumb-print of lust 

Kindly advise me, O psychologist

She shall have music -- we pray for the kiss 

of the god's on her forehead, the necking of fate 

How in the hell shall we guide her to this..."

Interestingly, Helen Hayes left out one stanza -- touching upon Zelda Fitzgerald's mental illness -- when she published this poem in her 1965 book, "A Gift of Joy." The omitted stanza reads,

"Solve me this dither, O wisest of lamas,

Pediatrician - beneficent buddy

Tell me the name of a madhouse for mammas

Or give me the nursery - let her have the study"

Zelda, F. Scott Fitzgerald's wife, was first committed to a mental institution in 1930 and just a year prior to this poem, was moved to a different one in Asheville, North Carolina, where she remained until her death. At the time Fitzgerald wrote this poem, in late 1937, he had just moved to Hollywood and fell in love with Sheilah Graham, although he never divorced Zelda.

"It's likely that Helen Hayes was protecting her friend, F. Scott Fitzgerald, by removing a portion of the poem that she thought was too personal for public consumption," said Sanders of Nate D. Sanders Auctions. "This part of the poem not only deals with Zelda's confinement, but also his estrangement from her, and perhaps how it affected their own daughter."

The poem will be auctioned on April 2nd and is expected to sell for $75,000-$100,000. The lot also includes an additional, shorter, poem handwritten by Fitzgerald, and a signed first edition of "Tender Is The Night." Photos of the poems, and the full transcripts, can be found here: 

F. Scott Fitzgerald Handwritten Poem


About Nate D. Sanders Auctions

An industry leader in memorabilia and autographs, Nate D. Sanders has conducted auctions in Los Angeles since 1990 and now conducts major auctions on a monthly basis. He is recognized for his knowledge of Hollywood, historical and sports memorabilia.