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    Margaret Mitchell reveals many of her sources for Gone With the Wind

    Margaret Mitchell Autograph Letter Signed "Peggy." Two pages, 7" x 11", Atlanta, Georgia, December 1, 1935. While writing her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell writes this letter to "Lola" to recommend her bibliography - particularly women authors and historians of Georgia - used for her novel. According to the letter, Mitchell and Lola were having a conversation in "the Ladies Johnny" about "'War and Reconstruction' women writers" when they were interrupted. This letter is a continuation of that conversation. It reads in part:

    "About the 'War and Reconstruction' women writers we were discussing in the Ladies Johnny when so rudely interrupted by conversation on Man's future destiny and present plight - I cannot find my bibliography. But I have clawed my memory in to some activity and I think one book was 'The War Time Diary of a Georgia Girl' by Eliza Francis Andrews. Another was 'A Woman's War Time Journal' by Dolly Sumner Lunt (Mrs. Thomas Burger). A third was 'Life in Dixie During the War' by Mary Gay. I have read so much of this period during the last year that I can not exactly remember whether these writers lived in Fulton or DeKalb counties or in more distant places. However, I'm pretty sure Mary Gay lived in Decatur. However, you'd better check me on all of these. I believe they're all at the Library.

    By the way, if you want a classification for 'Historians' there's plenty there. And some are women, Frances Letcher Mitchell, Mildred Rutherford and I believe that M. Wooley Thompson author of 'Reconstruction in Georgia' is a woman. I believe but am not certain that she's an Atlanta woman. As for men historians, I'll list a few but I am not sure all are Fulton-DeKalb people. Reed, Col. J. W. Avary . . . [ten male historians are listed] and Wilbur Kurtz who writes historical articles for the papers and is an artist, too. He is an acknowledged authority in Georgia history and would be glad to furnish names of other historians that I do not know or have forgotten."

    In her only novel, Margaret Mitchell adroitly presented one of the most memorable Southern female protagonist's in American literature - Scarlett O'Hara - but only after reading deeply into original narratives and letters of Southern women who recorded their accounts of life during the Civil War and Reconstruction. Looking at the list of sources she recommends to "Lola," one can see why, apart from the fact that Mitchell had grown up hearing stories of the Civil War from a Southern perspective, Gone With the Wind has an overtly Southern point of view.

    When Mitchell wrote this letter, she had been working on Gone With the Wind for several years. She had signed a contract with MacMillan earlier in August 1835, and she finally completed the story two months after writing this letter. Five months later it was published and became a huge success, winning Mitchell the Pulitzer Prize in 1937. The novel was so successful, that, in many ways, Mitchell's Southern viewpoint of the Civil War became the national viewpoint. The film version premiered in 1939. This letter is toned paper with some separation beginning at the smoothed folds. From the Judith Kaplan Women's History Collection.




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    Auction Dates
    April, 2011
    8th-9th Friday-Saturday
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