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