Margaret Mitchell was an interesting personality. She was an enigmatic petite woman who caused great controversies with her popular novel and defied many gender norms of her time with her journalism career. Below are ten interesting facts about her.
At three years old, Margaret Mitchell had a fire accident
Margaret Mitchell had a fire accident when she was only three years old. Her dress caught fire on an iron grate. Thankfully, she was unharmed by the incident.
Due to the fire incident, Margaret Mitchell’s mother started dressing Margaret in pants and because of it, she was nicknamed Jimmy after the cartoon character from Little Jimmy she would bear that name until she was fourteen years old. She continued to dress in men’s clothes long after she was no longer called Jimmy and she loved acting as male characters in her school drama
Margaret Mitchell dropped out of school
Margaret Mitchell had her secondary education in Washington Seminary, Atlanta. After completing Secondary School, she enrolled at Smith’s College in Massachusetts but she dropped out and returned to Atlanta after just a year.
Her mother’s death was part of the reason she dropped out because she felt she had to be by her father’s side who was distraught by his wife’s death. and another reason for leaving school was because Margaret Mitchell felt she was not exceptional in academics.
She lost her mother to influenza
Margaret Mitchell’s mother died in January 1919 of influenza just after the first World War. Margaret had rushed home to Atlanta from Massachusetts at the news of her mother’s illness but arrived only to meet the news of her death.
Mitchell alluded to this in her novel Gone with the Wind when Scarlett returned to Tara from Atlanta only to hear that her mother Ellen had died a few days before.
Gone with the Wind is the only book she wrote and published in her lifetime
She is reported to have started writing from childhood but the only book that was completed and published in her lifetime remains Gone with the Wind which was published in 1936.
Her other writings were compiled and published after her death. The first was a novella titled Lost Laysen discovered after her death and published in 1996. The others were Margaret Mitchell: Reporter and Before Scarlett: Girlhood Writings of Margaret Mitchell both of which were published as biographies in the year 2000.
She was married twice in her lifetime to two friends
Margaret Mitchell’s first marriage was to Berrien “Red” Upshaw. The marriage lasted from September 1922 to October 1924. Then in July 1925, she married John Marsh who had been Berrien Upshaw’s friend and the best man at her first wedding.
Margaret was said to have been courting five men simultaneously but never lied to any of them about exclusively dating them. Eventually, she chose Berrien Upshaw out of her five suitors and got married to him. But the marriage was an abusive marriage that eventually led to an uncontested divorce after Margaret Mitchell agreed not to press assault charges against him.
Then Margaret Mitchell married John Marsh who was a copy editor and their marriage lasted until Margaret Mitchell’s tragic death in 1949.
The House where she lived is currently listed in The National Register of Historical Places as a Museum
Margaret Mitchell’s apartment where she lived while writing Gone with the Wind is now a historical building and museum where guests visit to learn details of her life and her writing. Margaret Mitchell lived in an apartment of the building as a tenant between 1925 and 1932 and it was in that duration that she wrote what came to be the best-known writing from her. The house was originally built in 1899 and the antiquity of the building along with the famous writer that was once its occupant was among the reasons the house was listed in The National Register of Historic Places in the year 1996.
She did not know the South lost the American Civil War
Margaret Mitchell’s folks always told her stories of war, but according to her, the images they painted with their stories made her believe the South had won the American Civil War, she only learned the truth when she was ten years old. Her elderly Southern folks had told her so much about the war without mentioning that the South had lost the war and Mitchell said she was shocked to learn that the South had lost the war.
She had initially refused to give Gone with the Wind manuscript out for publication
Harold Latham, an executive at Macmillan Publishers was looking for new writers to publish and had heard about Margaret Mitchell’s journalism, he approached her and asked if she had a book and she said she was working on one but that it wasn’t ready to be seen by the world. She would eventually change her mind and give him the manuscript after an acquaintance reportedly made a condescending comment about her ability to write a book.
She was killed by a speeding car when she was forty-eight years old
Margaret Mitchell died tragically in the Grady Health System Atlanta on August 16, 1949, five days after being hit by a speeding car on August 11, 1949, as she and her husband John Marsh were crossing Peachtree street on their way to the movies. She was unconscious for five days after being hit and had friends and fans crowding the Grady Health System trying to know how she was faring. The driver that hit Margaret Mitchell was convicted of drunken driving and involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to jail after the accident.
Margaret Mitchell was buried in Oakland Cemetery, Georgia. And her husband John Marsh was buried next to her grave after he died in 1952.
She requested the Destruction of her Manuscripts
Margaret Mitchell requested that her husband destroy the Gone with the Wind manuscript upon her death. And her husband granted her request and destroyed the manuscripts. He only saved a few pages of the manuscript to keep as proof that Margaret Mitchell was truly the author of the sensational novel.
What is Margaret Mitchell known for?
Margaret Mitchell was an American journalist and novelist that was best known for her 1936 historical fiction novel Gone with the Wind which was made more popular by its 1939 movie adaptation. The novel earned her a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and became an American bestseller in 1937.
What else did Margaret Mitchell write?
Gone with the Wind is the only book Margaret Mitchell wrote and published in her lifetime. But another book, a novella titled Lost Laysen was discovered and published posthumously in 1999. Mitchell was also a journalist and wrote many news stories, feature articles, and book reviews. Her journalistic writings have been compiled in book form and published with the title Margaret Mitchell: Reporter. Her childhood writings have also been compiled into a book titled Before Scarlett: Girlhood Writings of Margaret Mitchell.
Is Margaret Mitchell still alive?
No, Margaret Mitchell is not alive. She was hit by a speeding car on August 11, 1949, while crossing Peachtree Street on her way to the movies with her husband, John Marsh. She eventually died five days later on August 16, 1949, just a few months before her 49th birthday.