Well, I declare. Someone has found part of the “Gone With the Wind” history that scholars had considered gone forever. And just in time for the 75th anniversary of the novel’s publication.
Here’s how the New York Times writes about the news:
Long thought to have been burned the way the North set fire to the cotton at Tara, the final typescript of the last four chapters of Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone With the Wind” has turned up in the Pequot Library in this Yankee seaport town. If not quite a spoil of war, the manuscript is a relic of some publishing skirmishes, and it will go on exhibit starting on Saturday, before traveling to Atlanta, Mitchell’s hometown, in time for the 75th anniversary of the novel’s publication in June.
On the same day that I read about this discovery, I made a discovery of my own. I realized only by accident that Margaret Mitchell’s last home was in an apartment building designed by Neil Reid at 1 S. Prado. A plaque outside the building, sitting just across from the entrance to the Atlanta Botanical Garden, tells visitors that Mitchell’s housekeeper burned the GWTW manuscript in the boiler room at the author’s request, upon her death.
The New York Times corroborates some of this story but says it was Margaret’s husband, John Marsh, who lit the match on the manuscript and most of the publisher’s typescript.
It turns out that Mitchell kept her personal manuscript neatly typed on newsprint in a series of envelopes in her home. That original manuscript is apparently still lost for the ages. That would be the document that shows the true evolution of the author’s ideas and how they become the story we know today.
Until now, only two chapters of the publisher’s typescript were thought to have survived the fire. Chapters 44 and 47 are stored in a vault somewhere here in Atlanta. (Let me know if you know the location!) Scholars assumed these were the only two chapters from the original typescript to survive.
As the Times reports, “The chapters, which contain some of the novel’s most memorable lines — like, “My dear, I don’t give a damn” and “After all, tomorrow is another day” — were given to the Pequot (Library) in the early 1950s by George Brett Jr., the president of Macmillan, Mitchell’s publisher, and a longtime benefactor of the library.”
Those chapters will soon end up in Atlanta, just across Peachtree Street from my home.
I can’t find any details but I do know the Atlanta History Center has scheduled a celebration at the Margaret Mitchell House to honor the 75th anniversary. Please tell me if you have any additional details.