On May 3, 1937, novelist Margaret Mitchell won a Pulitzer Prize for her novel "Gone with the Wind." More than 30 million copies of Mitchell’s Civil War masterpiece have been sold worldwide, and it has been translated into 27 languages. Here are five interesting facts about Gone with the Wind...
It's the Second-Most Popular Book of All-Time After the Bible. According to Adweek, Gone with the Wind is more popular among Americans than both the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings series along with other classics like To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye, and The Great Gatsby. To-date, the book has sold more than 30 million copies and interestingly enough, crosses party lines: it is the most popular book among both Republicans and Democrats.
Margaret Mitchell Wrote the Book Out of Boredom. Margaret Mitchell was a 25-year-old journalist in Atlanta when she took a leave of absence from her job to recover from injuries related to an auto crash. She was a voracious reader, and her husband got sick of lugging books from the local library to keep her occupied, so he suggested she write her own instead. Margaret spent the next ten years on the book, keeping her work a secret from almost everyone and never intending actually to publish it. After submitting the manuscript in a spur of the moment decision (that she immediately regretted), an editor at MacMillan realized he had a masterpiece on his hands and moved forward with publishing the novel.
It Took $50,000 and 16 Writers to Turn the Book Into a Movie. And that doesn't include the actual production costs of the film. Movie mogul David O. Selznick spent a record (for the time) $50,000 to acquire the film rights to the book shortly after publication in 1936. Sixteen different writers—including F. Scott Fitzgerald—took a swing at adapting the novel. In the end, it all paid off: the film went on to win 11 Academy Awards and gross $390 million globally at the box office.
Scalped Tickets to the Atlanta Premiere Sold for Over $3,500 a Piece. That's more than a lot of people spend to go to the Super Bowl. The Atlanta premiere of the film was so hyped up that Georgia's governor declared the day a state holiday and the mayor organized three days of parades and parties to celebrate the film. High-profile attendees included the Vanderbilts, Rockefellers, and Astors, along with J.P. Morgan and of course, the author herself, Margaret Mitchell. A group of Confederate Army veterans was in attendance at the film premiere as well.
Margaret Mitchell Was Fatally Struck by a Car Ten Years After the Film's Release. On August 11, 1949, Mitchell was crossing the street with her husband on the way to see a film when a speeding vehicle struck her. Margaret died five days later of her injuries at the age of 48. Some controversy—including an ebook published by the daughter of the man who accidentally struck Mitchell—surrounds the accident. Whether it was a murderous cover-up or an accident, the sad truth remains: we lost one of America's great authors before she could write her second novel.