“Every once in a while a book appeals to generation after generation, and makes for itself a permanent place in our literature [....] Gone With the Wind is one of those classics… Her novel of the Civil War and Emancipation deals with themes that are endlessly fascinating.” –Jacques Barzun
“To tell the truth, I do not know what happened to this obstinate couple after the end of the book …” -Margaret Mitchell, in the present letter
MARGARET MITCHELL DENIES KNOWING THE FATE OF RHETT AND SCARLETT AND WRITES EARNESTLY ABOUT THE UPCOMING MOVIE AND NEWFOUND FAME.
Penned only a year after the release of Margaret Mitchell's sweeping and quintessentially Southern novel Gone with the Wind to public and critical claim, this letter considers its unresolved and intriguing ending—a subject that was a great matter of speculation by international and national audiences alike. Mitchell herself was unprepared for the colossal success of this novel (it was a record-breaker in sales and a 1937 recipient of the Pulitzer Prize), writing here that “my life, since the publication of my novel a year ago, has been lived in the middle of a tornado.”
Mitchell in this letter also address the forthcoming release of a movie based on her book. Despite the fact that Mitchell had distanced herself from the project, David Selznick’s 1939 film won ten Academy Award nominations and ten Oscars, including best picture, which all but “guaranteed the novel’s immortality” ( American National Biography ). While plans for the film were underway at the time this letter was written, the highly publicized ‘search for Scarlett’ had not yet begun; production only took off when Clark Gable was released from his MGM contract. Walter Connolly, in fact, did not play Gerald O’Hara, as Mitchell indicates in this note: that part was ultimately filled by Irish-American actor Thomas Mitchell.
Dated July 27, 1937 and addressed to English fan Mrs. Blanche Maidwell, the letter, typed on Mitchell’s letterhead, reads in full:
My dear Mrs. Maidwell:
Thank you so much for your letter about “Gone With the Wind.” I never thought when I was writing it that Scarlett and Rhett would find friends in England and this knowledge makes me very happy.
No, I do not contemplate writing a sequel to the “Gone With the Wind.” To tell the truth, I do not know what happened to this obstinate couple after the end of the book. Answering your questions –– I have never written any other book and I am not working on any book now. Even if I had the urge to write another book, I do not know where I would find the time for my life, since the publication of my novel a year ago, has been lived in the middle of a tornado. Yes, “Gone with the Wind” will be made into a film sometime next year. At present only of the cast has been chosen,– Walter Connolly will play the part of Gerald O’Hara. I have no connection whatever with the film production and do not intend to go to Hollywood or to have anything to do with the matter.
I am enclosing a pamphlet printed by my publishers which I hope will be of interest to you.
With many thanks for your letter,
[signed] Margaret Mitchell Marsh
[typed] Margaret Mitchell Marsh
(Mrs. John R. Marsh)
Atlanta, GA: 27 July 1937. One sheet (approx. 7x11 inches), with printed heading “Margaret Mitchell” in blue. With original typed envelope with original stamp and postage and Mitchell’s return address in Atlanta printed on back. Usual folds (with small closed tears at extreme edges of folds); envelope torn at opening and soiled. Signature exceptionally strong. Housed in beautiful custom presentation folder.
A RARE LETTER WITH MITCHELL SPEAKING SO CANDIDLY ABOUT HER MASTERPIECE, GONE WITH THE WIND.