“I had every detail clear in my mind about Gone With The Wind
before I sat down to the typewriter.”
She only had one book published while she was alive, but that work alone won her the 1937 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
She was born Margaret Munnerlyn Mitchell on November 8, 1900 in Atlanta, Georgia and she wrote the bestselling novel, Gone with the Wind.
As most of us know, the novel was adapted into the iconic 1939 film starring Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara and Clark Gable as Rhett Butler.
Margaret Mitchell was an Atlanta housewife, a former newspaper woman, when she showed a suitcase full of manuscript to a talent scout for the Macmillan Company in 1935. The 1,037 page manuscript of the South made her an international writer.
The fame which came with her book brought her an estimated $1,000,000 in book royalties, movie payments and other allied returns in less than four years, but disrupted her way of living. She said one day, in a fit of exasperation as she left for a mountain hideaway from the throngs which besieged her by telephone, telegraph and in person, that she had determined never to write another word as long as she lived.
When asked about her ambitions at the height of the fame of Gone With the Wind she said that she hoped to put on weight, become “fat and amiable,” grow old gracefully.
Unfortunately, Mitchell would not grow old. At just 49 years of age, she was struck by a speeding automobile in Atlanta with her husband, John Marsh, while on her way to see the movie A Canterbury Tale on the evening of August 11, 1949. She died at Grady Hospital five days later without fully regaining consciousness.
In 1996, eighty years after it was written her romance novella, Lost Laysen, was published and became a New York Times Best Seller. The book was discovered after her boyfriend Henry Love Angel died in 1945 and years later his family came across some letters she had written to Henry. She wrote the book when she was just fifteen years old but it would become her second only book to be published.
Like most prolific writers, critics greeted Gone With The Wind not all in praise, although much of it was lavish. But, Miss Mitchell wrote a book which cannot be denied was the most phenomenal best seller ever written by an unknown author of a first novel.