On this day 78 years ago, the American reading public was introduced to what would later on be hailed as one of the greatest works of literature ever written.
Although the American bestselling epic “Gone with the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell was published on June 10, 1936, it took exactly 20 more days before it was finally released to the reading public. “Gone with the Wind” was set during the American Civil War and followed the life of Scarlett O’Hara, a spoiled daughter of a plantation owner. “Gone with the Wind” was also the title of the Victor Fleming-helmed classic film that starred Vivian Leigh and Clark Gable as Rhett Butler, Scarlett’s love interest:
Mitchell began work on “Gone with the Wind” after she was forced to quit as a reporter for the Atlanta Journal due to being afflicted with physical injuries. Did you know that she initially named her lead character as Pansy O’Hara? It was only upon the advice of editor Harold Latham of MacMillan Publishing that she changed Pansy from Scarlett! Pansy doesn’t quite have the same ring as Scarlett, now, does it?
Anyway, Mitchell was said to have drawn from stories by her parents, relatives, and Confederate war veterans that she had met. “Gone with the Wind” became controversial mainly because of its depiction of slavery and for supposedly “romanticizing” the Old South, yet despite these the book became hugely popular among readers across the USA and, eventually, around the world. For her novel, Mitchell was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1937 as well as the National Book Award from the American Booksellers Association. “Gone with the Wind” has spawned two official sequels written by Alexandra Ripley (“Scarlett,” 1991) and Donald McCaig (“Rhett Butler’s People,” 2007), both of whom were authorized to do so by Mitchell’s estate. “Gone with the Wind” was the only novel by Mitchell that was published during her lifetime.