National Book Month: Gone With the Wind

In 1936, Margaret Mitchell‘s epic Civil War-era novel hit the shelves—the only of her works published in her lifetime. Gone With the Wind was an instant success, winning Mitchell the Pulitzer Prize in 1937, and remaining the number one bestseller for two years.

The tragic love story of Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler, which plays out under the backdrop of the Old South on the brink of Reconstruction, is one familiar to every self-respecting Southern girl (among millions of other people). Being the unconventional Southerner that I am, though, I didn’t read this classic until long after my peers—convinced I would hate it because of its classification as a romance novel. But if there’s any label that inaccurately describes this literary behemoth, it’s simply calling it a romance. Sure, there are plenty of marriages and a lot of talk of love, but Mitchell’s ability to create dynamic characters with complex, intertwined relationships goes far beyond such a simplified definition.

The wild success of the book led to a film adaption that just as quickly captured the hearts of its audiences. Produced in 1939 and starring Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh, Gone With the Wind won 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and held the title of highest-grossing film of all-time until 1966.

Mitchell’s timeless story of the ill-fated Scarlett O’Hara remains an iconic piece of American culture today. This tale of the South is still just as alive and beloved as it was over 75 years ago.

Gone with the Wind TM, its characters and elements are trademarks of Turner Entertainment Company and the Stephens Mitchell Trusts.