Gone with the Wind, one of the best-selling novels of all time and the basis for the blockbuster 1939 movie was published June 30, 1936
Serious injuries forced Mitchell to quit her job as a reporter at the Atlanta Journal. Living in a small apartment with her second husband John R. Marsh, Margaret found she had too much time on her hands. Using the gift of a Remington typewriter from her husband she began telling the story of an Atlanta belle named Pansy O’Hara.
By tracing Pansy’s tumultuous life from the antebellum South through the Civil War and into the Reconstruction era, Mitchell drew on stories she had heard from her parents and relatives. Confederate war veterans she met as a young girl also served to give authenticity to the story.
Mitchell eventually gave the manuscript to Harold Latham, an editor from New York’s MacMillan Publishing, who encouraged her to complete the novel on the understanding that she change the heroine’s name to Scarlett to which she agreed. Scarlett is now one of the most memorable names in the history of literature.
Gone with the Wind caused a sensation in Atlanta when it was published in 1936 and went on to sell millions of copies not only in the United States, but throughout the world. Some critics said that it portrayed a romanticized view of the Old South and its elite slaveholders. Nevertheless, its epic tale of war, passion and loss captivated readers far and wide.
A movie project as already in the works when Margaret Mitchell won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction. The movie was produced by then Hollywood giant David O. Selznick who paid her a record-high $50,000 for the film rights to her book.
Hundreds of unknowns and big-name stars were tested to play Scarlet before Selznick hired British actress Vivien Leigh to play the part. Clark Gable was on board as Rhett Butler, Scarlett’s handsome love interest.
In spite of being plagued with on-set problems, Gone with the Wind became one of the highest-grossing and most acclaimed movies of all time
Mitchell didn’t take part in the film adaption of her book, but did attend its premier in December 1939 in Atlanta. Tragically, she died only 10 years later after being struck by a speeding car when she was crossing Atlanta’s Peachtree Street.