Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Gone With the Wind: A Literary Pilgrimage

Posted by Connie (yes, Connie!)

Hello, my dear, dear bookish friends! It has been several weeks since I've last been able to post anything, but right now I am just bursting with ideas for posts and topics I want to discuss with you. Who knows if I will have the time to write them all, but I thought I would chip away at them with this post, which will allow me to gush over one of my favorite books of all time -- Gone with the Wind.

This past weekend while meeting up with my in-laws in Atlanta, Georgia, we got to do one of my favorite touristy things to do in any city -- visit a literary landmark there. And what a literary landmark there is to see in Georgia! We went to the home of Margaret Mitchell, author of the truly great American novel, Gone With the Wind, the apartment in which she actually wrote the novel.

First of all, I just need to express sincere appreciation for those champions of literature who help in preserving houses like this. Apparently, developers in the 1980s tried to tear down the house to put up two high rises in its place, and thanks to the mayor of the time, it was preserved as a historic landmark.

Though not much else from Mitchell's life there remains -- the desk that she worked on and the clipboard she used while making edits -- the museum dedicated to her life and work was just wonderful, and it also featured a great exhibit dedicated to the movie (which I also love).

Perhaps my favorite part of the visit was getting to do one of my favorite literary nerdy things -- buy a copy of the book in the house where it was written. Yes, I do realize that they overcharge and I am a sucker for doing it, but I can't help it -- it's one of my favorite souvenirs. I did the same thing at the Charles Dickens house in London, and I still regret that I didn't do so at the Brontë parsonage. I just love getting the little stamp or sticker that shows where you got it.

My pretty hardcover copy

See the pretty sticker showing where I purchased it? *sigh*

In the spirit of my literary pilgrimage, here are some fun facts about Margaret Mitchell that I learned:

  • She worked as a journalist, and it wasn't until she suffered an ankle injury that she began writing the book -- out of sheer boredom.
  • As with her journal articles, she started Gone With the Wind by writing the last chapter first, so she knew to what she should build. After that, she wrote chapters randomly and in no particular order, keeping each one in its own manila folder. The stack, by the time she was done, came up to eye level on her (she was only 4'11", but regardless, it's a pretty high stack).
  • She was killed in a car accident in 1949 when a car swerved to miss her husband but hit her instead.
  • She made her husband promise to destroy her entire manuscript when she died, believing that an author should only be judged by his or her published work. For that reason, pretty much none of it exists today.
All right, gush over. What literary landmarks have YOU visited? Do you have any nerdy traditions like my book tradition?

The Margaret Mitchell House is located at 990 Peachtree Street in Midtown, Atlanta, Georgia. It is open for guided tours daily. Tickets cost $13 for adults, $10 for seniors and students, and $8.50 for children ages 4-12. For more information, visit