Museum Week – Margaret Mitchell, a life worthy of its own book

It’s the fifth day of Museum Week, a 7 day online celebration of museums, galleries and cultural institutions around the globe. This year’s theme is ‘Women in Culture’, and over the 7 days a different lifestyle topic will be used to explore and expand upon this year’s theme. Today the focus is on books. Follow the discussions as part of Museum Week online and on social media with the hashtags #WomenMW and #BooksMW.

Gone with the Wind, the best-selling novel that provided the basis for the famous movie, was the first and last novel written by Atlanta born Margaret Mitchell. Mitchell, who originated from an Irish-Catholic family living in Georgia, U.S.A, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1936 for this hugely successful work, which sold over 30 million copies, and was adapted into one of the most iconic screenplays of all time.

A civil war novel translated into 27 languages, Gone with the Wind was the result of Mitchell’s boredom-induced ponderings after an accident which resulted in a leg injury. Despite the book’s monumental influence, Mitchell reportedly disliked her writing, and thought the work was not up to standard. Ironically, in contrast with the elegant world depicted in the novel, Mitchell was apparently quite the character. She would often engage in drunken brawls, smoked 3 packets of cigarettes a day, and endured many accident-related injuries. Mitchell was also known for her incredible physical strength despite standing at only 4’11.

Margaret Mitchell also worked for the Atlanta Journal, and wrote over 130 articles for the paper. Her career as a journalist ended due to medical complications over a broken ankle in 1926, and in 1949, she was tragically struck by a car and died, leaving Gone with the Wind as her only literary work.

Catch up on our special blog series for Museum Week. Read our first article on Isabella McDougall here, our second piece on Sarah Durack here, our third piece on Marie Narell here, and our fourth piece on Edna O’Brien here.