Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Gone with the Wind published on this day in 1936

Gone with the Wind was published on this day in 1936. Every Southern girl of my generation knows the story well. And as we know today, and here I am quoting a source on the Internet: "Many historians regard the book as having a strong ideological commitment to the cause of the Confederacy and a romanticized view of the culture of the antebellum South."

Whatever you think about the book, Southerners know it well so I thought some background trivia would be appropriate today.

"As several elements of Gone with the Wind have parallels with Margaret Mitchell's own life, her experiences may have provided some inspiration for the story. Mitchell's understanding of life and hardship during the American Civil War, for example, came from elderly relatives and neighbors passing war stories to her generation.

While Margaret Mitchell used to say that her Gone with the Wind characters were not based on real people, modern researchers have found similarities to some of the people in Mitchell's own life as well as to individuals she knew or she heard of.

Mitchell's maternal grandmother, Annie Fitzgerald Stephens, was born in 1845; she was the daughter of an Irish immigrant, who owned a large plantation on Tara Road in Clayton County, south of Atlanta, and who married an American woman named Ellen, and had several children, all daughters.

Researchers believed Rhett Butler to be based on Mitchell's first husband, Red Upshaw. She divorced him after she learned he was a bootlegger. Other historical evidence suggests the Butler character to be based on George Trenholm, a famous blockade-runner.

Martha Bulloch Roosevelt, the mother of US president Theodore Roosevelt may have been an inspiration for Scarlett O'Hara. Roosevelt biographer David McCullough discovered that Mitchell, as a reporter for The Atlanta Journal, conducted an interview with one of Martha's closest friends and bridesmaid, Evelyn King Williams, then 87. In that interview, she described Martha's physical appearance, beauty, grace, and intelligence in great detail. The similarities between Martha and the Scarlett character are striking."

Tomorrow is another day.


Gwen said...

Elizabeth, this is so interesting. My mother loved Gone with the Wind. She read the book. I don't think she ever saw the film. I can imagine that as a girl growing up on the prairie of Kansas she was enchanted with the descriptions of the elegant southern life...and also felt a kindred spirit as Scarlett struggled amid the hardships of war.

So, reading your post brought memories of my mother, her love of reading and the significance of this story for her. And for me... a feeling of melancholy and sadness in the absence of my mother.

Thanks for posting this.

Shawn said...

I guess I'll be the one to stir the pot. I think "Gone With The Wind" is a shitty novel that was made into an even worse movie.

Having said that, I will now watch the latest devastation of Atlanta as the Braves seem intent on losing another game. The Braves and the Saints are the reason I drink so much. That and southern women like Scarlett.

Elizabeth said...

Yes, Shawn, that's why I qualified my post. I had a college professor who cruelly mocked any of his students who read that book and thought it was 'literature.' It's such a great read though, but I don't think any of us confuses Margaret Mitchell with Flaubert. :)

Gwen said...

Shawn, you are at your usual "stirring the pot" here. But, Quite Frankly My Dear, I'd much prefer to watch Scarlett and Rhett than a bunch of beefy jocks ramming each other on a football field...oh, I guess it must be baseball season...better, but still... : )... : )

Casey Ann said...

GWTW was always my favorite book, and I used to be ashamed to admit it. I loved it because Scarlett was such a strong female role model - and those were hard to come by.