Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind: A Bestseller’s Odyssey from Atlanta to Hollywood


In the over seventy-five years since Gone With the Wind's publication, millions of people the world over have speculated about what happened after Rhett Butler told Scarlett O’Hara he didn’t give a damn. Whether author Margaret Mitchell envisioned a reconciliation for her famous lovers is one of many intriguing questions surrounding the legendary novel and its enigmatic creator.

Granted unprecedented access to GWTW records and correspondence, Ellen F. Brown and John Wiley, Jr., examine the biggest mystery of them all: how a disorganized and incomplete manuscript by an unknown Southern writer was discovered by a major New York publisher and became one of the most popular, profitable, and controversial novels in literary history. Various Mitchell biographies and several compilations of her letters tell part of the story, but until now no single source has delved into the full saga.

This entertaining and informative account traces Gone With the Wind from its origins in the Civil War-era experiences of Mitchell’s relatives through its status today as a pop culture icon that still generates impressive profits for her estate. At the core of the story is Mitchell’s struggle to capture on paper the sights, sounds and smells of antebellum Georgia and how she dealt with her book’s stunning success. Mitchell had no affinity for the celebrity status or legal complexities associated with being a bestselling author but accepted them with resignation and went on to build an international publishing empire amidst the Great Depression and World War II. Brown and Wiley answer the question once posed by the author’s husband, “How in the hell did she do it?”

Along the way, rumors are debunked and mysteries are solved – from who really deserves credit for unearthing and editing the manuscript to, at long last, Mitchell’s answer to the burning question of whether Scarlett gets Rhett back.


"[T]he authors expertly turn even the most technical subjects into an adventure."

   ---Publishers Weekly

"A must-read for aficionados, Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind is engaging history...."

   --- Richmond Times-Dispatch

Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind: A Bestseller's Odyssey from Atlanta to Hollywood is a “detailed and well-documented account of the creation, publication, and ongoing product management of Margaret Mitchell’s famous novel of the Civil War South” that will “appeal to all fans of the book or the film, as well as popular literary history buffs and writers."

   ---Library Journal

"Granted unprecedented access to records and correspondence about the book’s publishing, the movie that followed and the legacy that remains, the authors reveal the whole saga – worthy of a fainting spell from Scarlett herself."

   ---Deep South Magazine

"Oh my goodness, what a beautiful book! I started reading and couldn’t put it down. A real winner."

   ---Pamela Roberts, Executive Producer of Georgia Public Broadcasting's documentary "Margaret Mitchell"

"Who would have thought that reading a book about the writing of Gone with the Wind could be almost as riveting as the real thing? In this deep examination of the life and times of GWTW, Brown and Wiley have inked a masterwork of their own. Booklovers of all stripes—not just those who bleed scarlet when pricked—will be enthralled by this story of one of the great literary successes of modern times."

   ---Dean King, author of Skeletons on the Zahara and Unbound

"A fascinating exploration of literature, culture, and film, Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind: A Bestseller's Odyssey from Atlanta to Hollywood is a fine read and highly recommended."

   ---Midwest Book Review

"History is one of my loves and any book that delves into the hidden, behind-the-scenes stories of great events fascinates me. Ellen Brown and John Wiley have written just such a book, explaining the untold story of Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind. This is a must read for any aficionado of this classic in American literature."

   ---Steve Berry, New York Times Bestselling Author

"Brown and Wiley give Mitchell’s monumental novel its due here. Drawing on meticulous research and unprecedented access to private papers, they follow Gone With the Wind from the glimmer of an idea to its explosion as a global bestseller, hugely popular film, and subject of heated copyright battles. This is a vivid, highly readable account of the life of a story—and, incidentally, of its spirited, scrappy author. It is also a remarkable contribution to publishing history and literary studies."

   ---Susann Cokal, author of the novels Mirabilis and Breath and Bones

"In a narrative as engaging and well-paced as that of Gone with the Wind itself, Brown and Wiley chronicle the journey of the story that captured the world’s imagination and the woman whose tireless efforts changed the way books are made, sold, and read. This is a celebration of the unique power great books have to shelter, heal, and unite us and it is a must-read for anyone who has wondered what life is like for the artists whose work changes our lives."

   ---Rebecca Joines Schinsky, The Book Lady's Blog

Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind: A Bestseller's Odyssey from Atlanta to Hollywood tells the story of the most popular novel ever written—from its creation in the late 1920s through its continuing appeal in the 21st century. Brown and Wiley go beyond the lore about Miss Mitchell and Gone With the Wind that has sprung up over the years, and even die-hard GWTW fans will learn things they never knew."

   ---Herb Bridges, internationally recognized GWTW authority

“Ellen F. Brown and John Wiley, Jr., have written a unique, important, and wonderful book about the history of the novel Gone With the Wind. Thoroughly researched and carefully written, their book is, among other fine things, the first to trace the background of the numerous foreign editions, and to document the many legal and copyright issues resulting from the extraordinary success of Margaret Mitchell’s grand Civil War epic. Their book is an engaging, thoughtful, and comprehensive study of Gone With the Wind.”

   ---Marianne Walker, author of Margaret Mitchell and John Marsh: The Love Story Behind Gone With the Wind.