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Monday, 13 April 2015

Gone With the Wind

Margaret Mitchell wrote Gone With the Wind between 1926 and 1929. The journalist started her epic novel while convalescing in bed nursing a broken ankle.

Having got through a number of historical books borrowed from the public library, her husband, John Marsh, suggested she wrote one of her own. Mitchell wrote the book for her own amusement, typing it out on an old Remington typewriter. Embarrassed at the reaction to her efforts of her friends, she hid the reams of pages under towels, in her closets or under her bed.

Margaret Mitchell

In Mitchell's early drafts, the main character was named "Pansy O'Hara" and the O'Hara plantation we know as Tara was called "Fountenoy Hall."

Mitchell is thought by many to have based the lead character Scarlett o’Hara on herself.

It was only several years later in 1935 after meeting a MacMillan publisher, Howard Latham, that the book was published. It went on to sell more copies than any other hard-cover book apart from the Bible.

Her original title for the book was Tomorrow Is Another Day; It was Mitchell's publisher who changed it to Gone With the Wind.

The title came from a poem called Non Sum Qualis Eram Bonae sub Regno Cynarae by Ernest Dowson:
“I have forgot much, Cynara! gone with the wind,
Flung roses, roses riotously with the throng,
Dancing, to put thy pale, lost lilies out of mind."

Gone With the Wind, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction on May 3, 1937.

First edition cover

Margaret Mitchell had never written a book before Gone With the Wind and never wrote a book afterwards.

When the Gone With The Wind movie was premiered at Loew's Grand Theatre in Atlanta on December 15, 1939, a parade came before it. There were also three days of parties in which the stars of the movie wore costumes and many stores in the city were redecorated to look like they would have been in the Civil War.

When co-star Clark Gable heard black actress Hattie McDaniel (see below) was barred from the première he threatened to boycott it until McDaniel convinced him to go.

Clark Gable was instrumental in having the segregation of the on-set toilet facilities lifted.

Leslie Howard thought he was too old to play Ashley Wilkes and hated the role so much that he and Vivien Leigh, a perfectionist, clashed on set as she thought he wasn't focused enough.

'Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn' – cinema's most famous line – was almost never used because of the Hays ruling on bad language in films. But producer David O Selznick argued cutting such a petty word as 'damn' would make Hollywood a laughing stock. So it stayed.

Gone With the Wind was the first film to win the Best Picture Oscar that wasn't in black and white.

Margaret Mitchell was so overwhelmed by the attention her book received she eventually stopped signing copies for anyone – even Vivien Leigh.

On August 11, 1949 Margaret Mitchell was crossing an Atlanta street on her way to the theater when she was hit by a speeding cab.  The off-duty taxi driver was racing down Peachtree Street — where her heroine Scarlett O’Hara had many adventures — and knocked her unconscious. he died of her injuries five days later.

Source Daily Mail

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