Synopses & Reviews
Gone With the Wind
is an American phenomenon. Arguably the most popular American novel of all time, it sold over a million copies in its first six months (in the heart of the Depression), won a Pulitzer Prize for its author, and more remarkable still, returned to the New York Times
Best Seller list fifty years after its first appearance. Crowning its glory, David O. Selznick transformed the novel into one of the great films of all time, lifting its characters--especially the unforgettable Scarlett O'Hara and her lover-antagonist Rhett Butler--to the pinnacle of American popular culture.
Now, in Southern Daughter, Darden Pyron provides an absorbing biography of Margaret Mitchell, the author of this American classic. In a solidly researched, sprightly narrative informed by a deep knowledge of Southern culture, Pyron reveals a woman of unconventional beauty, born into one of Atlanta's most prominent families, and imbued from childhood with tales of the Civil War. Mitchell was a rebellious child, an independent woman who wanted a career and not a family (children made her wince), and a Catholic who defiantly left the Church, divorced her first husband, Red Upshaw (a ne'er-do-well and sometime bootlegger), and married John Marsh (who had been Upshaw's best man). Fans of Gone With the Wind will find several chapters in Southern Daughter that trace how these elements in Mitchell's biography made their way into her fiction, including the most surprising identity for the fictional Rhett Butler. As a further surprise to most Americans who know only the film version of Gone With the Wind, Pyron reveals how Mitchell intended her book as a repudiation of the then popular "moonlight on the magnolias" genre of Civil War romance. Equally interesting is his portrait of Mitchell after the novel's success: the incredible flood of letters (in the 13 years before her death, Mitchell wrote at least ten thousand letters, an astonishing number of which ran pages and pages); the filming of Gone With the Wind, whose script ultimately required seventeen writers, including F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ben Hecht; and the lavish film premier in Atlanta.
Whether describing Mitchell's earliest writing (such as The Cow Puncher and Phil Kelley, Detective, in which she played Zara the female crook), or discussing her final years, which were marred by constant pain and illness, wrangles with agents and publisher, and her increasing affection for litigation, this perceptive, sympathetic, and engagingly written biography illuminates the life of a major writer and the book she created, a work peopled with characters who still loom large in the American imagination.
"Riveting reading....Pyron offers a compelling portrait of the spirited, complex author of Gone With the Wind, a perceptive psychological analysis of the novel, and an examination of the work's changing critical fortunes as the South has been transformed....The reader is swept right along....A fascinating portrait."--Kirkus Reviews
"Not just a biography of an interesting woman (although it certainly is that). It is also a fascinating portrait of the 'smart set' of the interwar South, a class itself now gone with the wind, yet one that in its time produced a remarkable outpouring of literary and journalistic talent. Pyron's account deserves the attention of anyone interested in twentieth-century Southern letters--or twentieth-century Southern life."--John Shelton Reed, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
About the Author
About the Author -
Darden Asbury Pyron is Professor of History at Florida International University.