A First Edition of Gone with the Wind, Inscribed by Margaret Mitchell, Together With a Personal Signed Letter From Mitchell on Her Stationery, and A Short Signed Note Accompanying a Brief List of Bibliographical Sources Used By Her in Researching Her American Classic.Margaret Mitchell. Gone with the Wind. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1936.
First edition, first printing, with "Published May, 1936" on copyright page and no note of other printings. In first issue dust jacket with Gone with the Wind listed in the second column of Macmillan Spring Novels list on back panel. Octavo. 1037 pages. On the front free endpaper is a warm personal inscription in ink from Margaret Mitchell to a fan: "For Jewel Allen with sincere hopes for a speedy and complete recovery - Margaret Mitchell. Oct. 12, 1936 Atlanta, Ga."
Original gray cloth decoratively stamped and lettered in blue on front cover and spine. Minor rubbing along rear joint and to head of spine. Light foxing to top edge. Tiny spot to front pastedown, and very light toning and foxing to endpapers. The dust jacket is fresh and bright, with virtually no fading. The top corner of the front flap has been clipped, but the $3.00 price is still present at the bottom corner of the front flap. A couple of small chips along edges at folds. Very light foxing to jacket's rear panel, and one small closed puncture to rear panel at spine edge. Overall, a very good copy of a highly desirable book.
Mitchell's Typed Letter, Signed Twice
Letter is on cream-colored stationery, with "Margaret Mitchell" stamped in blue at the top left of the page. The one-page letter, folded twice and typed on one side, measures 7.25 x 11 inches. There is evidence of the letter having been tipped into a scrapbook, with remnants of paper still adhering to the verso of the letter, at the tips of each corner; recto shows some offsetting/bleedthrough at these points, most noticeably at the top right corner. The letter is signed twice with Mitchell signing as both "Margaret Mitchell" and "Mrs. John R. Marsh" at the bottom of the page. Overall, this letter is in fine condition.
Mitchell's Personally Compiled Brief Civil War Bibliography, With Initialed Hand-Written Note
Two sheets of a carbon copy on onionskin paper with handwritten note on page two, signed by Margaret Mitchell with her initials. Both pages are folded in half, then folded in thirds. Page one measures 8.5 x 11 inches, and appears to have been tipped in to a scrapbook with evidence of the scrapbook paper still attached at tips of all four corners on verso of page. There is also a shallow paper clip indentation to top left corner, a shallow crease to top right corner and very faint foxing along the left edge of the page. Page two measures approximately 8.5 x 10 inches with the bottom inch or so of the page missing, having been neatly cut on the horizontal. Paper remnants from scrapbook still attached to tips of top two corners on verso, with shallow indentation of paper clip to top left corner; quarter-inch slit intersecting with one-inch closed tear to top left hand corner and very faint foxing along the left edge of the page. Overall, fine condition.
This wonderful and revealing lot contains not only a desirable inscribed first edition of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Gone With the Wind, one of the bestselling novels in publishing history, it also contains a signed personal letter from author Margaret Mitchell and a short specially-selected bibliography of some of the Confederate history sources she used in researching her epic novel, appended with a handwritten note explaining how she had come to compile that very specific list. Mitchell's gracious notes contained in this lot offer a look at an extremely private woman who had never wanted nor courted the limelight but had found herself suddenly famous and engulfed in an absolute deluge of attention upon the release of her landmark novel, published in June, 1936.
Jewel Allen, a Tennessee native who had been a Red Cross nurse in the early 1930s, had been diagnosed with tuberculosis and had spent long hours of her recuperation reading Margaret Mitchell's instant bestseller, Gone With the Wind. When she finished the book, the 24-year old young woman wrote to Mitchell to tell her how much she had enjoyed the book, and she tentatively inquired if she might send the book and have it signed. She made sure to mention that she was suffering from T.B., concerned that the author might have a fear of possible infection.
By the end of 1936, over a million copies of Gone With the Wind had sold, and Margaret Mitchell's life had been turned upside down - only a couple of weeks after publication of the book she wrote her publisher that "life has been so much like a nightmare." There were incessant and relentless demands on her time, and she was shocked by the lack of civility demonstrated by members of the press and by many of her fans who showed up at her home uninvited, who phoned her night and day, and who followed her all over Atlanta demanding attention and autographs (she was followed into department store dressing rooms and even to family funerals!). By the end of the year she was unable to handle the crush of autograph-seekers, and she politely refused to sign any more copies of the book after December of 1936. Mitchell was overwhelmed, and in August of 1936, her husband, John Marsh, sent a telegram to Time magazine stating "Mrs. Marsh sick in bed as result of strain of becoming famous too suddenly."
It was during this fevered time that Margaret Mitchell received Jewel Allen's letter. In Ms. Mitchell's warm response to Miss Allen's letter, particularly in regard to her concern for Miss Allen's health and in the deft way she puts her at ease ("It was nice of you to think of the possible chance of infection but that doesn't worry me. I have known and visited too many friends who were suffering from tuberculosis to have any fear."), one feels that she was touched by Miss Allen's polite and heartfelt expression of praise and appreciation. ("That was a fine letter you wrote me and I appreciated it very much. The fact that you are ill - and yet took the trouble to write such a nice letter makes me thank you all the more for it.")
Mitchell's five-paragraph letter expresses genuine concern for Miss Allen ("I am so very glad that you like the book and I hope that it helped divert you for a while. But it is so heavy and I am wondering if your hands did not get very tired holding it up?"), while at the same time dismissing her own previous injury of a broken ankle which she says paled in comparison to Miss Allen's consumption ("[It] took forever to heal and kept me hopping about on crutches for an eternity but I wasn't really laid up, as, for instance, you are"). (It's interesting that Mitchell shrugs off her own illness when in other letters she describes this broken ankle and the severe arthritis that set in soon after as being a three-year period when she was on crutches "with no prospect of ever walking again.")
She closes the letter by sharing six of her favorite Confederate books by women writers that she thinks Miss Allen would enjoy. ("Most of these books are out of print but when you can get hold of them they are charming reading. But probably you've already read them.")
In addition to the typed letter on her personal stationery, Mitchell also sent Miss Allen a carbon copy of a roughly-typed list of bibliographic sources she had prepared in response to a "Northern woman" who had recently "demanded some references to back up my statements about the conduct of Sherman's troops in Georgia." The short list of 37 titles on Sherman and/or Georgia during the Civil War is only a tantalizing sliver of the collection of source materials Mitchell pored over in the years of research leading up to the publication of Gone With the Wind. (Mitchell states in the handwritten note that appears at the end of the list that "I haven't had time to get up my bibliography which runs in the thousands.") The note closes with these remarks: "Knowing of your interest in this period, I thought you might like to see this. Perhaps there are a few here which may interest you." She signs the note with a very informal "M. M. M."
This incident in which a "Northern woman" had insisted to Time magazine that Mitchell had lied about Federal troops looting and desecrating Southern cemeteries had been a definite sore point with Mitchell (she was still incensed about it twelve years after the incident). On August 3, 1936 Time queried her about sources that would back up her assertions of these desecrations, and on August 29, 1936 she supplied the magazine with the sources. In the letter she cites only four specific references, but it appears that this query persuaded Mitchell to put together the longer bibliography here offered. She writes to a friend in 1948 that in her original response to Time she had "four or five references [...], but when dealing with people like Time it was better to have more, and so I spoke to some of my reference librarian friends," and they appear to have banded together to help Mitchell compile this list. It is unclear whether this same list was attached to her response to Time, but it is interesting to note that she refers to the still-fresh-in-her-mind incident in her handwritten note to Miss Allen. It appears that this list may not have been previously published.
Also included in this lot is what appears to be a rough draft of "The Private Life of Margaret Mitchell" by Edwin Granberry; the article appeared in the March 13, 1937 issue of Collier's magazine. The draft is on seven pages of 8.5 x 11 inch paper, and is typed, single-spaced, containing several typographical errors. The first page appears to be an original page, the other six are carbon copies. The sheets are generally clean and uncreased, aside from marks left by paper clips. Edwin Granberry wrote one of the first glowing reviews of Gone With the Wind and became a close friend of Mitchell. It has been reported that Mitchell requested Granberry write this "official" article about her in response to the insatiable demand for details about her life. In a letter to Granberry written the week the article appeared, Mitchell wrote: "This is just a line to tell you how marvelous the article looked. My family and friends liked it so much and already strangers are beginning to write me about it." Jewel Allen's family speculates that she may have come into possession of this draft during the course of the freelance work she did as an editor in order to supplement her disability income. A nice association item.
Also included in this lot is Jewel Allen's copy of the December 28, 1936 issue of Life magazine, with several pages on Margaret Mitchell and the staggering success of her novel. Very good condition.
Jewel Allen, the Tennessee woman who received these notes and whose book was graciously inscribed by Ms. Mitchell, lived another 37 years after this exchange, and, though never fully-recovered from her bout with tuberculosis, lived a full life and, according to her family, always prized this special correspondence with Margaret Mitchell, author of perhaps the most loved book of the twentieth century.
Reference: Richard Harwell. Margaret Mitchell's "Gone With the Wind" Letters, 1936-1949. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1976.
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