Margaret Mitchell (born November 8, 1900 in Atlanta, Georgia; died August 16, 1949 in Atlanta, Georgia) was the author of Gone With the Wind, winner of the 1937 Pulitzer Prize for fiction and the basis for the Academy Award-winning film of the same name released in 1939.
Mitchell left Smith College when her mother died from Spanish flu in 1918, taking over household duties. In the spring of 1922 she accepted an invitation from her close friend and Birmingham News society page editor Augusta Dearborn to stay with her, in the guest quarters of the Alexander Dearborn residence in Anderson Place, and to assist her at the newspaper. Reports of the length of her stay vary from "about a week" to "several weeks".
Dearborn served as Mitchell's maid-of-honor at her marriage that December to Berrien "Red" Upshaw. They couple returned to Atlanta where she, as "Peggy Mitchell", was able to parley her experience in Birmingham into a job as a feature writer for the Atlanta Journal Sunday magazine.
Mitchell found Upshaw to be abusive and was soon divorced. In 1925 she married John Marsh, publicity director for what became the Georgia Power Company. A year later, forced to leave reporting due to a broken ankle, Mitchell, with her husband's support, began writing what was published in June 1936 as Gone With the Wind.
Shortly after the novel's appearance, former Birmingham mayor George Ward wrote to Eugene Mitchell, Margaret's father, enclosing press clippings about the new book as well as a bound copy of testimony that had been given by his mother, Margaret Ward, to a U.S. Senate Committee studying the relations between capital and labor in 1883, about her time in Georgia in the years surrounding the Civil War. Mrs Marsh wrote back, proclaiming the speech, "undoubtedly the most perfect and valuable and complete picture of a long gone day," and requesting a copy for her library and one to deposit in the Atlanta Carnegie Library, "where the children of the South would have access to it." In follow-up correspondence she asked for additional copies of the testimony and insisted on paying for them.
In 1937 writer Susan Lawrence Davis of Athens, Alabama filed a lawsuit against Mitchell's publisher, alleging plagiarism from her 1924 book, "Authentic history, Ku Klux Klan, 1865–1877." Mitchell responded that she had never read it and, in fact, had difficulty finding a copy to review after being notified of the suit. A federal judge dismissed the claim.
In 2009, artist Ben South became interested when he heard that Mitchell may have lived in Birmingham and contacted Birmingham Public Library archivist Jim Baggett to help research the possibility and identify the house. The house, which had been divided into three apartments, was purchased out of foreclosure in 2014 and restored.
- Marsh, Margaret Mitchell (September 1, 1936) Letter to George Ward. From the George Ward Papers at Birmingham Public Library Archives - via Birmingham Public Library Digital Collections
- "Alabama woman sued." (August 2, 1937) The Tuscaloosa News
- Thomas, Jane (March 21, 2008) "Margaret Mitchell (1900-1949)" New Georgia Encyclopedia
- Hansen, Jeff (July 7, 2009) "Iconic author Margaret Mitchell, author of "Gone with the Wind', may have lived for a time on Birmingham's Southside." The Birmingham News