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Margaret Mitchell - Gone with the Wind - MARGARET MITCHELL and SCARLETT O'HARA

In her Atlanta apartment, which she called "The Dump," Margaret Mitchell works on a manuscript she eventually titled Gone with the Wind. Image by Kenneth Rogers/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/AP Photo. Provided here as fair use for educational purposes.

 

An Atlanta debutante, who took the nickname “Peggy” during her time at Smith College (in 1918), Margaret Mitchell created a Southern heroine called Scarlett O’Hara.

Was Scarlett autobiographical? Was Scarlett the antithesis of Margaret Mitchell?

Perhaps there was a combination of the two in the young antebellum woman who wore gorgeous skirts with big hoops—until financial losses, during America’s civil war, forced her to use household drapes as dress material?

One of Georgia’s first female reporters, Margaret—who was around 4' 10" tall and used “Peggy Mitchell” as her byline—rebelled against the social restrictions which American society—particularly in the South—placed on women of her generation. She didn’t believe that females were better-off staying home than roaming around town in search of a good newspaper story.

With an Underwood No. 5 typewriter, which she used while working for The Atlanta Journal, Mitchell turned-out lots of words on a page. She called one of her stories—which appeared in The Atlanta Journal Magazine on July 19, 1926—“Honest Man” Wakes Up to Find Himself a Thief.

In that unlikely tale, a man battling amnesia seeks the help of the Atlanta police who soon determine that he is actually “an escaped convict from Florida.” Within a decade, the writer of such interesting stories would author one of the world’s most-popular novels.

Not content to make a path which only benefitted herself, Mitchell spent some of the money she earned from her royalties and licenses to fund projects in which she believed. One of those projects was to provide an education for African-Americans who wanted to become physicians.

With her help, the South graduated its first African-American doctors.

Although Gone with the Wind provided financial well-being for its author, its accompanying notoriety greatly bothered Margaret. She didn’t like the spotlight. She didn’t like the publicity which usually accompanies writers of hugely popular novels. She even gave orders, in her Will, to burn GWTW’s manuscript after her death.

We can see a bit of Mitchell’s personality in Scarlett. On the one hand, Margaret was charismatic and fun-loving. But as much as she had a great sense of humor, she also had bouts of depression.

She lost Clifford Henry, her fiancé (who died fighting in France during October of 1918). Barely four months later, in January of 1919, she lost her mother to influenza (during the Spanish Flu Pandemic).

Perhaps we can see a bit of Peggy in Scarlett’s love life, too. Mitchell was such a flirt that, in 1922, a gossip columnist wrote this about her:

...she has in her brief life, perhaps, had more men really, truly “dead in love” with her, more honest-to-goodness suitors than almost any other girl in Atlanta. (“Polly Peachtree,” quoted by Margaret Ripley Wolfe, in Daughters Of Canaan: A Saga of Southern Women, at page 150.)

In that same year, Mitchell had a failed first marriage. Berrien “Red” Upshaw—whom Mitchell married (in 1922) against the wishes of her family—was a heavy drinker who abused his wife during their short-lived marriage.

Red left—just a few months after his wedding—and agreed to an uncontested divorce when John Marsh (his former roommate and best man) gave him a loan (and his wife agreed not to press assault charges).

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5124stories and lessons created

Original Release: May 13, 2016

Updated Last Revision: Jun 17, 2016


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"MARGARET MITCHELL and SCARLETT O'HARA" AwesomeStories.com. May 13, 2016. Oct 21, 2017.
       <https://www.awesomestories.com/asset/view/MARGARET-MITCHELL-and-SCARLETT-O-HARA-Margaret-Mitchell-Gone-with-the-Wind>.
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