Yoon Joung Lee
The author of Gone With the Wind, one of the most popular books of all time, Margaret Mitchell, was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1900. Her father was a historian and lawyer, and her mother was a suffragist. Since her young age, she loved to hear other’s stories and write in her own way. As a child, she was fascinated by the Civil War stories she heard from Confederate veterans. She also wrote, produced, and directed plays. She cast her friends and performed her stories on the porch in front of her neighbors.
In 1918, she entered Smith College, but soon she had to drop out the school to take her place as mistress of the household after her fiance, Clifford Henry, died in action in World War I and her mother died during a flu epidemic, the following January. In 1922, she married Berrien “Red’ Upshaw who was an ex-football player from a prominent Raleigh, North Carolina, family. During their short period of marriage, she began writing for the Atlanta Journal Sunday Magazine while under financial pressures. However, their marriage didn’t last long. Upshaw left Atlanta for the Midwest four months after the wedding and he never came back.
Within a year she married John Marsh who was a former suitor and an editor at the paper. There, she wrote 129 articles while working as an advice columnist and a proofreader. After four years at the paper, she had to leave the job due to a series of injuries including a broken ankle. During this time, she wrote the book which made her famous.
In 1936, her book Gone With the Wind was published and Mitchell was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. This book made her a celebrity overnight and she remained very much in the public spotlight. In 1939, the book was made into an equally famous motion picture, starring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable and the film’s world premiere was held at the Loew’s Grand Theater in Atlanta.
Gone With the Wind was Mitchell’s only published novel. Since international copyright laws were different from country to country and those were ambiguous, she spent so much time working to protect the copyright of her book abroad. She also spent much of her time answering every letter she received about her book. During the World War II outbreak, she worked for the American Red Cross.
In 1949, Mitchell and her husband crossed the street to go to a movie theater. Mitchell was hit by a speeding taxi cab driven by a drunken driver. She was rushed to Grady hospital but never regained consciousness. She died at the hospital five days after the accident and was buried in Atlanta’s Oakland Cemetery in 1949. She was listed in Georgia Women of Achievement in 1994 and the Georgia Writers Hall of fame in 2000.