Land, Katie Scarlett O’Hara, isn’t the only thing that lasts. For more than three-quarters of a century, Gone with the Wind has endured as a romanticized ode to the antebellum South and a gritty, if racially ignorant, tale of Reconstruction. Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 novel and its 1939 film adaptation have spawned generations of fans. This year, Colorado-based Taylor Trade Publishing celebrates the movie’s seventy-fifth anniversary with a trio of books about the phenomenon that ensures pop culture historians will never be hungry again.
1. Road to Tara: The Life of Margaret Mitchell
By Anne Edwards
This is the commemorative reprint of the 1983 biography by Hollywood scribe Edwards, who became interested in Mitchell while researching a book about GWTW star Vivien Leigh. Edwards leads readers through Mitchell’s Atlanta childhood, to New York publishers discovering her as a former writer for the Journal, to her death as an artist tortured by the popularity of her creation. There are plenty of fascinating tidbits along the way, like the inspiration for scenes that would become iconic:
Atlanta and Jonesboro were to be Peggy’s locales. Her heroine’s plantation would be more of a farm, like her mother’s ancestral home, than the stereotypical plantation, and it would be called Fountenoy Hall. She was not entirely satisfied with this name, but it was of her own making and she wanted to be sure that no plantation in Clayton County could be identified.
2. The Scarlett Letters: The Making of the Film “Gone With the Wind”
Edited by John Wiley Jr.
Readers get a glimpse of the hometown author’s baptism into the film industry through Mitchell’s correspondence with Hollywood players like producer David O. Selznick and mega-famous cast members such as Clark Gable, Olivia de Havilland, and Hattie McDaniel. Letters, like this one to her publisher in 1936, show that Mitchell had misgivings early in the process of her book’s pages being translated into celluloid:
I won’t be tough-mouthed about the changes—that is, some changes . . . I know that some changes are necessary in transferring any book to the screen . . . But there are a few changes I wouldn’t put up with. I wouldn’t put it beyond Hollywood to have General Hood win the Battle of Jonesboro, Scarlett seduce General Sherman and a set of Negroes with Harlem accents play the back woods darkies.
3. The Complete “Gone With the Wind” Trivia Book
By Pauline Bartel
Even if you’ve read the novel and you watch the four-hour movie every year wearing green velvet drapes, you’ll still be stumped by this collection of quizzes, puzzles, and who-said-it games that include GWTW’s cultish following and the authorized, if ill-advised, sequels.
This article originally appeared in our October 2014 issue under the headline “Not Going Anywhere”