The Gumption of Margaret Mitchell

Today marks the day in 1937 that Margaret Mitchell won the Pulitzer Prize for Gone With the Wind.

For nine years, Mitchell, a journalist in Atlanta, Georgia, had secretly struggled to pen the epic, stashing pages in closets, drawers, and bookshelves. One evening, a friend introduced her to publisher Harlold Latham of Macmillan. He said he had heard rumor through a friend that she had a longer project in mind, but Mitchell denied it, embarrassed of what she perceived to be the novel’s poor quality. Only after hearing the catty remark of a frenemy later that evening, “Imagine anyone as silly as Margaret writing a book!” did she track down Latham and send him the manuscript. Seventy-three years later, its sales are second only to the Bible.

“If the novel has a theme, it is that of survival. What makes some people able to come through catastrophes, and others, apparently just as able, strong and brave, go under? It happens in every upheaval…. I only know that the survivors used to call that quality ‘gumption.’ So I wrote about the people who had gumption, and the people who didn’t.” – Margaret Mitchell, quoted in Who the Hell is Pansy O’Hara: The Fascinating Stories Behind 50 of the World’s Best Loved Books by Jenny Bond and Chris Sheedy

One Comments

  1. Gone With the Wind may be second in sales to the Bible, but it has been MY bible. What Margaret Mitchell wrote has gotten many people through hardships, I’m sure I was not the first. The gumption her characters have gave me gumption myself. I’m thankful everyday for her amazing novel, and for the “frenemy” that got it to publication.

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