Read Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind Online

Authors: Ellen F. Brown,Jr. John Wiley

Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind

BOOK: Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind
11.94Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub


Published by Taylor Trade Publishing
An imprint of The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc.
4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanham, Maryland 20706

Estover Road, Plymouth PL6 7PY, United Kingdom
Distributed by National Book Network

Copyright © 2011 by Ellen F. Brown and John Wiley, Jr.
First printing

All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote passages in a review.

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Information Available

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Brown, Ellen Firsching, 1969–
Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the wind : a bestseller's odyssey from Atlanta to Hollywood / Ellen Firsching Brown and John Wiley, Jr.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-1-58979-567-9 (cloth : alk. paper)—
ISBN 978-1-58979-527-3 (electronic)
1. Mitchell, Margaret, 1900–1949. Gone with the wind. 2. Best sellers—History—20th century. 3. Publishers and publishing—History—20th century. 4. Book industries and trade—History—20th century. 5. Mitchell, Margaret, 1900–1949—Film and video adaptations. I. Wiley, John, 1958–II. Title. III. Title: Gone with the wind.
PS3525.I972B76 2011

The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of American National Standard for Information Sciences—Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992.
Printed in Canada

With love to Orran, Read, and Drew,
for their endless encouragement and patience.


To Mom, who first took me to see the movie
Gone With the Wind
To Dad, a Southern gentleman in every sense of the word.
To Linda, who bought me my first copy of
Margaret Mitchell's novel.


In memory of Emyl Jenkins Sexton,
who had Scarlett's zest for life and Margaret Mitchell's
love for the written word.

Cast of Characters

Margaret Mitchell Marsh, author
Stephens Mitchell, her brother and legal adviser
John Marsh, her husband and business manager
Margaret Baugh, her longtime secretary


Lois Dwight Cole Taylor, assistant editor and friend of Margaret
Harold Latham, vice president and editor in chief
George Brett, Jr., president
Richard Brett, treasurer
James Putnam, vice president and assistant to the publisher
Alec Blanton, sales manager
Marion Saunders, foreign rights agent
Walbridge Taft, lawyer


Annie Laurie Williams, movie rights agent
Kay Brown, Selznick's story editor, later agent for Mitchell Estate
David O. Selznick, movie producer


nyone writing about Margaret Mitchell's
Gone With the Wind
stands on the shoulders of a vast body of work, including at least five biographies of the author, three collections of her letters, and numerous essays about the novel's place in the American literary canon. A complete bibliography of every book and article published about
Gone With the Wind
)—including those on the famous 1939 movie version—would fill a large volume. So, why another?

Timed to coincide with the seventy-fifth anniversary of
Gone With the
's 1936 release, we present the first comprehensive history of how Mitchell's novel became an international publishing blockbuster. This is not a biography of the author but rather the life story of her book, from its origins in Mitchell's childhood to its status today as a controversial cultural phenomenon. We follow the novel on its journey from a small apartment in Atlanta to the Macmillan Company's Fifth Avenue headquarters in New York, and then across the country and around the world. We tell how Mitchell's book was developed, marketed, and groomed for success in a bygone era of typewriters and telegrams, as well as of the author's love-hate relationship with her publisher and agents, each of whom held divergent views on how best to manage the book and its legacy. Along the way, Mitchell changed the course of international copyright law through her struggles to maintain control over the
literary rights. As one of the first U.S. authors since Mark Twain to cause an international sensation, she fended off unauthorized editions of her book around the globe, calling attention to the inadequacy of copyright protection for American writers. And, because this is not a biography of the author, the story does not end at her death. The saga continues to the present day, exploring the tumultuous years since her passing during which Mitchell's husband, then her brother, and finally a group of Atlanta lawyers protected and capitalized on one of the world's most valuable literary properties.

Readers familiar with the history of
Gone With the Wind
will notice that the version of events we tell varies in some respects from previously published accounts. Many of the differences are attributable to our having access to information never before available to
researchers, most importantly, a private archive of correspondence between Mitchell and Lois Cole, the associate editor at Macmillan who discovered the manuscript. These documents—including an initial assessment of the novel by Cole, the first person outside the Mitchell family to read
Gone With the Wind
—offer a new understanding of how the manuscript made its way to Macmillan and was developed there. We are grateful to Cole's children, Linda Taylor Barnes and Turney Allan Taylor, Jr., for entrusting us with this rich resource. In addition, the
Literary Rights office recently donated a large volume of its business records to the University of Georgia. These files offer fascinating details about the novel's early history, as well as more recent developments. Also, Paul Anderson and Thomas Hal Clarke, lawyers who have worked with the literary rights for decades, agreed to be interviewed for this project. Their comments offered valuable insights into the complexities of the

Of course, there is an inherent risk in attempting to re-create history from the records of a born storyteller like Margaret Mitchell. As a friend of the author's once said, you could run into her at a department store when you both were exhausted and in foul moods and then later hear her tell the story of your meeting and barely recognize the two lighthearted and attractive people she described. Many of the other characters involved in this story also did not lack a silver tongue; the truth was often not as important as telling a good story, and if that story changed from telling to telling, so be it. Taking such embroidery into account, we have done our best not to accept anything at face value. We have been cautious in handling contradictory, incomplete, or otherwise questionable descriptions of events and noted when we were unable to meld various accounts. Throughout this process, we have come away with new interpretations of events that have become treasured parts of
lore. We have solved mysteries, corrected misunderstandings, and hopefully offer readers the most thorough, accurate, and up-to-date exposition on the remarkable life of a remarkable book. We do not claim to have rewritten the history of
Gone With the Wind
, but we have refocused the lens.

BOOK: Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind
11.94Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

Scholar's Plot by Hilari Bell
On the Blue Comet by Rosemary Wells
Beneath Us the Stars by David Wiltshire
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
WINDWEEPER by Charlotte Boyett-Compo
The Evasion by Adrienne Giordano
The Beast's Bride by Myles, Jill
Red (Black #2) by T.L Smith