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Margaret Mitchell

Margaret Mitchell

Overview
Margaret Munnerlyn Mitchell (November 8, 1900 – August 16, 1949) was an American author and journalist. Mitchell won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction has been awarded for distinguished fiction by an American author, preferably dealing with American life. It originated as the Pulitzer Prize for the Novel, which was awarded between 1918 and 1947.-1910s:...

 in 1937 for her epic American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 era novel, Gone with the Wind
Gone with the Wind
The slaves depicted in Gone with the Wind are primarily loyal house servants, such as Mammy, Pork and Uncle Peter, and these slaves stay on with their masters even after the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 sets them free...

, which was the only novel by Mitchell published during her lifetime.

Margaret Mitchell was born in Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta is the capital and most populous city in the U.S. state of Georgia. According to the 2010 census, Atlanta's population is 420,003. Atlanta is the cultural and economic center of the Atlanta metropolitan area, which is home to 5,268,860 people and is the ninth largest metropolitan area in...

 in 1900 to Eugene Muse Mitchell, a lawyer, and Mary Isobel "May Belle" Stephens, a suffragist of Irish Catholic
Irish Catholic
Irish Catholic is a term used to describe people who are both Roman Catholic and Irish .Note: the term is not used to describe a variant of Catholicism. More particularly, it is not a separate creed or sect in the sense that "Anglo-Catholic", "Old Catholic", "Eastern Orthodox Catholic" might be...

 origin.
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Encyclopedia
Margaret Munnerlyn Mitchell (November 8, 1900 – August 16, 1949) was an American author and journalist. Mitchell won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction has been awarded for distinguished fiction by an American author, preferably dealing with American life. It originated as the Pulitzer Prize for the Novel, which was awarded between 1918 and 1947.-1910s:...

 in 1937 for her epic American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 era novel, Gone with the Wind
Gone with the Wind
The slaves depicted in Gone with the Wind are primarily loyal house servants, such as Mammy, Pork and Uncle Peter, and these slaves stay on with their masters even after the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 sets them free...

, which was the only novel by Mitchell published during her lifetime.

Family


Margaret Mitchell was born in Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta is the capital and most populous city in the U.S. state of Georgia. According to the 2010 census, Atlanta's population is 420,003. Atlanta is the cultural and economic center of the Atlanta metropolitan area, which is home to 5,268,860 people and is the ninth largest metropolitan area in...

 in 1900 to Eugene Muse Mitchell, a lawyer, and Mary Isobel "May Belle" Stephens, a suffragist of Irish Catholic
Irish Catholic
Irish Catholic is a term used to describe people who are both Roman Catholic and Irish .Note: the term is not used to describe a variant of Catholicism. More particularly, it is not a separate creed or sect in the sense that "Anglo-Catholic", "Old Catholic", "Eastern Orthodox Catholic" might be...

 origin. Margaret Mitchell's brothers were Russell Stephens Mitchell, who died in infancy in 1894, and Alexander Stephens Mitchell, born in 1896.

Mitchell's family on her father's side included several generations of wealth and political prominence. They were descendants of Thomas Mitchell, originally of Aberdeenshire
Aberdeenshire
Aberdeenshire is one of the 32 unitary council areas in Scotland and a lieutenancy area.The present day Aberdeenshire council area does not include the City of Aberdeen, now a separate council area, from which its name derives. Together, the modern council area and the city formed historic...

, Scotland, who settled in Wilkes County, Georgia
Wilkes County, Georgia
Wilkes County is a county located in the U.S. state of Georgia. As of 2000, the population was 10,687. The 2007 Census estimate shows a population of 10,262. The county seat is the city of Washington. Referred to as "Washington-Wilkes", the county seat and county are commonly treated as a...

 in 1777, and served in the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

. William Mitchell, Margaret Mitchell's great-great-grandfather, was a soldier in the War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

. Her grandfather, Russell Crawford Mitchell, enlisted in the Confederate States Army
Confederate States Army
The Confederate States Army was the army of the Confederate States of America while the Confederacy existed during the American Civil War. On February 8, 1861, delegates from the seven Deep South states which had already declared their secession from the United States of America adopted the...

 in July 1861, and was later severely wounded at the Battle of Sharpsburg
Battle of Antietam
The Battle of Antietam , fought on September 17, 1862, near Sharpsburg, Maryland, and Antietam Creek, as part of the Maryland Campaign, was the first major battle in the American Civil War to take place on Northern soil. It was the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, with about 23,000...

. After the Civil War, he made a large fortune in real estate and timber lands. Russell Mitchell had twelve children from two wives; the oldest was Eugene, who graduated from the University of Georgia law school.

Mitchell's family on her mother's side were originally from Ireland. Her great-grandfather, Phillip Fitzgerald, emigrated to America and settled on a plantation in Jonesboro, Georgia, where he had seven daughters with his wife, Eleanor. Mitchell's grandparents were Annie Fitzgerald and John Stephens, who had also emigrated from Ireland and was a Captain in the Confederate States Army. They had twelve children together; one of them was May Belle Stephens, who married Eugene Mitchell. May Belle Mitchell had studied at the Bellevue Convent in Quebec and completed her education at the Atlanta Female Institute.

Childhood and influences


On summer vacations, May Belle Mitchell brought her daughter to visit her maternal great-aunts, Mary "Mamie" and Sarah "Sis," who still lived at her great-grandparent's plantation home in Jonesboro
Jonesboro
Jonesboro or Jonesborough is the name of a number of settlements in the United States and the United Kingdom:USA*Jonesboro, Arkansas**Jonesboro massacre, a school shooting incident*Jonesboro, Georgia, originally Jonesborough...

. Mitchell recalled her childhood was spent, "on the bony knees of veterans and the fat slippery laps of great aunts," who had lived through the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

.

Education


Margaret Mitchell graduated from Atlanta's Washington Seminary (now The Westminster Schools
The Westminster Schools
The Westminster Schools is a private school in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Founded in 1951 and tracing its origins to 1878, Westminster has the largest endowment of any non-boarding school in the United States...

) in 1918, and then became engaged to a young soldier, Clifford West Henry. On September 14th of the same year, while she was enrolled at Smith College
Smith College
Smith College is a private, independent women's liberal arts college located in Northampton, Massachusetts. It is the largest member of the Seven Sisters...

, in Northhampton, Massachusetts, Henry was mortally wounded in action in France and died on October 17th. On January 25, 1919, her mother, May Belle Mitchell, died of pneumonia in the Spanish flu pandemic. After finishing her freshman year at Smith, Mitchell returned to Atlanta to take over the household for her father, and never returned to college.

Marriage and career


Margaret Mitchell married Berrien β€œRed” Upshaw in September 1922, and the best-man at her wedding was John R. Marsh, who would become her second husband. By December the marriage to Upshaw had dissolved and he left. Mitchell suffered physical and emotional abuse, the result of Upshaw's alcoholism and violent temper. Upshaw agreed to an uncontested divorce after John Marsh gave him a loan and Mitchell agreed not to press assault charges against him. On July 4, 1925, 24-year-old Margaret Mitchell and 29-year-old John Marsh were married in the Unitarian-Universalist Church.

While still legally married to Upshaw and needing income for herself, Mitchell got a job writing feature articles for the Atlanta Journal Sunday Magazine. Her first story, Atlanta Girl Sees Italian Revolution, by Peggy Mitchell, appeared on December 31, 1922.

Several months after marrying Marsh in 1925, Mitchell quit her newspaper job due an ankle injury that would not heal properly and to become a full-time wife. During the four years Mitchell worked for the Atlanta Journal, she had written 129 articles in the Sunday Magazine section.

Novelist


In Mitchell's teenage years, she is known to have written a novel about girls in a boarding school titled, The Big Four, as well as a story about "Little Sister" who hears her older sister being raped and shoots the rapist, and a romance novella
Novella
A novella is a written, fictional, prose narrative usually longer than a novelette but shorter than a novel. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Nebula Awards for science fiction define the novella as having a word count between 17,500 and 40,000...

 that takes places on a South Pacific
South Pacific
-Geography:* Australasia, a region of Oceania, including: New Zealand, Australia, Papua New Guinea and neighbouring islands* Oceania, a geographical, often geopolitical, region consisting of numerous lands - mostly islands in the Pacific Ocean and vicinity, usually including: Micronesia, Melanesia...

 island titled, Lost Laysen
Lost Laysen
Lost Laysen is a novella written by Margaret Mitchell in 1916, although it was not published until 1996.Mitchell, who is best known as the author of Gone with the Wind, was believed to have only written one full book during her lifetime. However, when she was 15, she had written the manuscript to...

. Mitchell gave Lost Laysen, which she had written in two composite notebooks, to a boyfriend, Henry Love Angel. Angel died in 1945 and the novella remained undiscovered among some letters she had written to him until 1994. In the 1920s, Mitchell completed a novelette
Novelette
A novelette is a piece of short prose fiction. The distinction between a novelette and other literary forms is usually based upon word count, with a novelette being longer than a short story, but shorter than a novella...

 titled, Ropa Carmagin, about a southern white girl who loves a biracial man. She also started another novel set in the 1920s, but it was not completed.

Death



Margaret Mitchell was struck by a speeding automobile as she crossed Peachtree Street
Peachtree Street
Peachtree Street is the main street of Atlanta. The city grew up around the street, and many of its historical and municipal buildings are or were located along it...

 at 13th Street in Atlanta with her husband, John Marsh, while on her way to see a movie on the evening of August 11, 1949. She died at Grady Hospital five days later without regaining consciousness. The driver, Hugh Gravitt, was an off-duty taxi driver who was driving his personal vehicle when he struck Mitchell. After the accident, Gravitt was arrested for drunken driving and released on a $5,450 bond until Mitchell's death. It was discovered that he had been cited 23 times previously for traffic violations. The Governor of Georgia, Herman Talmadge
Herman Talmadge
Herman Eugene Talmadge was an American politician from the U.S. state of Georgia. He served as governor of Georgia briefly in 1947 and again from 1948 to 1955. His term was marked by his segregationist policies. After leaving office Talmadge was elected to the U.S...

, later announced that the state would tighten regulations for licensing taxi drivers. Gravitt was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and served 4 months in jail.

Further reading



  • Brown, Ellen F. and John Wiley. Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind: A Bestseller's Odyssey from Atlanta to Hollywood. Lanham: Taylor Trade, 2011. ISBN 978-1589795679.
  • Edwards, Anne
    Anne Edwards
    Anne Edwards is an author best known for her biographies of celebrities that include Princess Diana, Maria Callas, Judy Garland, Katharine Hepburn, Vivien Leigh, Margaret Mitchell, Ronald Reagan, Barbra Streisand, Shirley Temple and Countess Sonya Tolstoy...

    . Road to Tara: The Life of Margaret Mitchell New Haven: Tichnor and Fields, 1983.
  • Farr, Finnis. Margaret Mitchell of Atlanta: The Author of Gone With the Wind.New York: William Morrow, 1965.
  • Pyron, Darden Asbury. Southern Daughter: The Life of Margaret Mitchell and the Making of Gone With the Wind. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.
  • Walker, Marianne. Margaret Mitchell & John Marsh: The Love Story Behind Gone With the Wind. Atlanta: Peachtree, 1993.

External links