Margaret Mitchell

(1900-1949), American Novelist and Journalist

Margaret Munnerlyn Mitchell was an American journalist and novelist popularly known for her historical fiction novel titled, Gone with the Wind. She was born at the end of the nineteenth century on November 8, 1900, in Atlanta, Georgia.

Although she started writing stories from her childhood, Gone with the Wind is the only of her fictional stories published in her lifetime and she won many awards for it.

Life Facts

  • Margaret Mitchell was born in Atlanta, Georgia on November 8, 1900.
  • She was born into a wealthy family. Her father was an attorney and her mother was a suffragist for women. She was an only daughter but had a brother.
  • She was a journalist and reporter for the Atlanta Journal.
  • Her mother died of pneumonia and influenza on January 25, 1919, during the ‘Spanish Flu’ pandemic.
  • Margaret Mitchell was killed by a speeding car on August 11, 1949.

Interesting Facts

  • She was very accident-prone. She had a fire accident when she was three years old but was unharmed, always had injuries from riding horses, and eventually died in a car accident when she was forty-eight years old.
  • The house where she lived in Atlanta is now listed as a historical building called Margaret Mitchell House and Museum.
  • She was a college dropout.
  • She was known by other names besides Margaret Mitchell—she was nicknamed Jimmy from age three until she was fourteen years old.  Her pen name as a journalist was Peggy Mitchell
  • She began writing from childhood but apart from Gone with the Wind, none of her writings was published in her lifetime.

Early Life

Margaret had a fire accident when her dress caught an iron grate at age three (3). Although she emerged unharmed, the incident contributed in molding her personality into a tomboy because the fear of another fire accident made her mother dress her in boy’s pants and it earned her the nickname Jimmy, a character from the cartoon Little Jimmy.

She attended Washington Seminary in Atlanta, a private school for girls. After Washington Seminary, she attended Smith College, Massachusetts but dropped out after one year because she didn’t believe she would excel in academics and because she needed to be by her father’s side and run the household with him after her mother’s death.

She once got engaged to a young soldier, Clifford West Henry, but he died in action during World War I in the year 1918. She later married Berrien “Red”   Kinnaird Upshaw. Divorced him in October 1924, then married John Robert Marsh in July 1925 and this second marriage lasted until her death in 1949.

Literary Career

Margaret Mitchell began writing from childhood, imagining stories about animals and about romance as she grew older. She was said to write her childhood stories on tablet papers bound together by herself and would design the cover arts to her liking. She was an active member of the Drama Club in her school and would stage and dramatize popular plays. She also joined the Literary society in her school where two of her short stories were published in her school Yearbook.

She was a reporter for the Atlanta Journal from 1922 to 1926 when she was forced to resign due to a leg injury. Throughout her career in Atlanta Journal, Margaret Mitchell wrote a total of 129 feature articles,85 news stories, and numerous book reviews.

She started writing fiction again as an adult in 1926 when she quit her job as a reporter and started writing Gone with the Wind. The novel became her greatest legacy as a writer and won her many awards including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Later Life and Death

Margaret Mitchell’s life was cut short before she could get to old age. She was hit by a speeding car on August 11, 1949, on her way to see a movie with her then-husband John Marsh died five days later on August 16, 1949, at age forty-eight (48).

Before her death, Margaret Mitchell requested that her husband, John Marsh destroy the Manuscript of Gone with the Wind whenever she dies. It was a request John Marsh granted, burning bulk of the manuscript but eventually saving a few pages of the manuscript proof of Margaret Mitchell’s authorship of the novel.

Influence from other Writers

Margaret Mitchell’s favorite children’s books were Five Children and It (1902) and The Phoenix and the Carpet (1904) both from the same author, Edith Nesbit. It is said that a copy of each of those children’s books remained on her desk even in adulthood and that she would buy Christmas Presents for the books.

Margaret Mitchell also claims she was greatly influenced by Thomas Dixon and Mary Johnston.  She also read the works of popular writers like William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, and Sir Walter Scott among others.

Literature by Margaret Mitchell

Explore literature by Margaret Mitchell below, created by the team at Book Analysis.