Biography of Margaret Mitchell - Getting Closer to God's Voice 1985

Biography of Margaret Mitchell - Getting Closer to God's Voice 1985

Margaret Munnerlyn wrote only one novel during her lifetime. Being an avid reader. It is said that Mitchell’s favorite children’s books were by author Edith Nesbit: Five Children and It (1902) and The Phoenix and the Carpet (1904). She kept both on her bookshelf even as an adult and gave them as gifts to those who share cares.




#Family Members 

Her grandfather Russell Mitchell fought in the Civil War and suffered two bullet wounds to the head during the fighting at Antietam. Twice married, her grandfather had twelve children and the oldest among all was Mitchell’s father, Eugene. And Mitchell’s mother’s family was Irish Catholic. Mitchell was the younger of two children and her parents are attorney and suffragette.  Her grandfather was wounded twice in the head at the Battle of Antietam but survived. Her maternal grandfather, Philip Fitzgerald fought in the Civil War too.


After the war, his grandfather made a fortune selling lumber. Her mother’s blood was from Ireland.  As a child, Margaret Mitchell was surrounded by stories of the Civil War told to her by family members who had lived through it.


It is said that her mother has a quick temper and being strict in parenting. Her mother died because of influenza and she didn’t have the chance to say goodbye. Mitchell’s mother Mabelle was sick, but the news was kept from Mitchell.  Mitchell returned home to take care of the household after her mother’s death. Her freshman year was disrupted because of the occurrence of influenza which causes the cancellation of classes in colleges.


Because of the ar, beautiful houses turn into old ruins. As houses fell to pieces so as countless families lose their homes and hopes. We should never take a peaceful world for granted. People fight for it. Is there trauma underneath those who survive over the war? 


Everyone’s world might shake one day and it’s so important to believe that our life will be even better 10 years later. The weapons to survive over the hard times is hope, rationality, positive emotions and faith.

Relationship and Marriage Life


In the summer of 1918, America entered World War I (1917-18) and  Mitchell met twenty-two-year-old Clifford Henry at a dance who appeared to be a wealthy and socially prominent New Yorker.  Clifford Henry was a bayonet instructor at Camp Gordon. They fell in love and engaged shortly before he was shipped overseas. Unfortunately, he was killed in October 1918 while fighting in France.


When the First World War broke out, Mitchell’s older brother joined up the war and she volunteered at the refugee center. During the end of the war, she met Lieutenant Clifford West Henry. It is said that some of Margaret’s friends thought that Clifford Henry was unmanly in character. Clifford soon gave her a heavy gold family ring. In August, Clifford was told he was to be transferred overseas and that night he and Margaret secretly got engaged. 


She was engaged to five men and she claimed that she neither lied to them or misled any of them.  Evidently, she was popular among men by catching men’s infatuation, attention or love. A local gossip columnist wrote under the name Polly Peachtree, described Mitchell’s love life in a 1922 column: She has in her brief life, perhaps, had more men really, truly ‘dead in love’ with her, more honest-to-goodness suitors than almost any other girl in Atlanta.


In April 1922, Mitchell was seeing two men, Kinnard Upshaw and John Robert Marsh respectively. John Robert Marsh was Upshaw’s roommate, who was a copy editor from Kentucky working for the Associated Press.


Mitchell completed her freshman year at Smith. She met Berrien Kinnard Upshaw, who was from a prominent Raleigh North Carolina family. They were wed in 1922, but the marriage was short. Four months later, Upshaw left Atlanta and never returned. The marriage was annulled two years later.


Upshaw was a few months younger than Mitchell. In 1919 he was appointed to the United States Naval Academy but resigned for academic deficiencies in 1920. He was readmitted when he was 19 years old. Upshaw earned money by means of bootlegging alcohol in 1922.  Without earning family’s approval, Mitchell and Upshaw married in 1922 and the best man at their wedding was John Marsh, who became her second husband.


The couple resided at Mitchell’s home with her father. Unfortunately, Mitchell suffered physical and emotional abuse from Upshaw. Domestic violence is something particularly hard for women especially a wife to share with the public. Upshaw agreed to an uncontested divorce after John Marsh gave him a loan and Mitchell agreed not to press assault charges against him. 


Berrien Kinnard was “an ex-football player and bootlegger.”  He was “broad-shouldered, six feet and two inches, had brick-red hair, green eyes, and a cleft chin” and Mitchell was just 5 feet tall. His temper was unpredictable and violent. He physically and verbally abused Mitchell can’t stand his verbal and physical abuse and the marriage only lasted a few months. It’s a blessed thing to end a troublesome abusive relationship. Countless women fail to save their own life and own dignity because they are overly dread of social pressure and social prejudice on earth. 


When she was abused in her first marriage,  Marsh was the first phone call Mitchell made. Ultimately,  she fell in love with John Marsh. In her words, “Marsh was soft-spoken, not as tall as Red, and not extremely attractive,” but he might be the one whom she can rely on. 


▲In1925, 24-year-old Margaret Mitchell and 29-year-old John Marsh married in the Unitarian-Universalist Church. The Marshes made their home at the Crescent Apartments in Atlanta,  which they affectionately named “The Dump,” which is titled to be the Margaret Mitchell House and Museum. 


#Passion for Storytelling 


She loves to tell stories. By 13, she’d written a 237-page book about Civil War stories. From 1914 to 1918, Mitchell attended the Washington Seminary where she was a founding member and officer of the drama club. It’s impressive to know that she created her own “publishing company” called “Urchin Publishing Co.” 

Her father had suffered financial setbacks. In 1922, Mitchell took a job as a feature writer, working for the Atlanta Journal Sunday Magazine and she earns $25 a week.


Margaret began using the name “Peggy” at Washington Seminary. Mitchell landed a job with the Atlanta Journal Sunday Magazine. She used “Peggy Mitchell” as her byline. During four years, Mitchell wrote 129 articles for Sunday Magazine, working as a proofreader, substituted for the advice columnist, reviewed books, and occasionally she wrote hard news stories for the paper. 


Mitchell injured her ankle in a car accident in the summertime in 1926 and she was bedridden for several weeks. Marsh was taking good care of her and he encouraged her by saying that she could write a better book than the thousands he’d been lugging back and forth.


In 1926, to get rid of the boredom, Mitchell began to write the novel  Gone With the Wind to get rid of her boredom when she was in bed. Once again, disaster and blessing go hand in hand. She completed the majority of the book in three years. She wrote the last chapter first and the other chapters in no particular order. Stuffing the chapters into envelopes, she eventually accumulated almost as many as seventy chapters.


When visitors appeared, she keeps her novel a secret. There has been speculation on whether the characters were based on anyone in her real life, but Mitchell claimed they were her own imaginations. 


According to Ibid, she had no outline but she decides that the story would commence with the war and end with Reconstruction, and it would be the story of Atlanta. She designs four major characters, one of the leading men would be a romantic dreamer like Clifford Henry; and the other, a charming character like Red Upshaw. For female characters, one is a paragon of Southern virtue and the other is strong, hot-headed and “a bit of a hussy.” [Ibid]


According to Ibid, she wrote 6 to 8 hours a day and she “kept index-card files for the characters.”  Ultimately, the novel took years to complete. Without patience and ultimate determination, a writer can never complete a work especially is he or she happens to be a perfectionist. 


In April 1935,  Harold Latham, an editor for the Macmillan publishing company in New York City looking for new manuscripts. Latham came to know that Margaret Mitchell had been working on writing a book, but she denied it. When a friend commented that Mitchell was not serious enough to write a novel, Mitchell took her scripts to Latham’s hotel and he had to purchase a suitcase to carry the papers. Harold Latham read part of the manuscript on the train to New Orleans and sent it straight to New York. By July, Macmillan had offered her a contract and Margaret Mitchell received a $500 advance and 10 percent of the royalties. She revised the manuscript, rearranging chapters and changing the name of the main character, which was originally called Pansy and struggled to think of a title which suited better.


Titles considered include Tomorrow Is Another Day, Another Day, Tote the Weary Load, Milestones, Ba! Ba! Blacksheep, Not in Our Stars, and Bugles Sang True. Finally, she settled on a phrase from a favorite poem “I have forgotten much, Cynara! gone with the wind, / Flung roses, roses riotously with the throng.” Published in 1936, Gone With the Wind was 1,037 pages long and sold for three dollars.


Gone With the Wind was a phenomenal success. Overnight, Margaret Mitchell became a celebrity and remained in the public spotlight as the production of the film based on her novel released in 1939. She was in constant demand for interviews. She tried to keep her privacy from the camera. Thus, she stopped autographing copies of her book and she announced that she wanted to remain simply Mrs. John Marsh.






本文由 Wise Library 1985 提供 原文連結

Wise Library 1985