May 3, 1937: Gone With the Wind Wins the Pulitzer Prize for Literature

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These women, so swift to kindness, so tender to the sorrowing, so untiring in times of stress, could be as implacable as furies to any renegade who broke one small law of their unwritten code. This code was simple. Reverence for the Confederacy, honor to the veterans, loyalty to old forms, pride in poverty, open hands to friends and undying hatred to Yankees.

Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind

 

Margaret Mitchell began writing Gone With the Wind in 1926 when she was 26.  The book was published by Macmillan in June of 1936.  By the end of December 1936 the book had sold one million copies even though it had a high price, for the time, of $3.00.  Reviews were generally positive, and thus the tome being awarded a Pulitzer Price in 1937.  The film rights to the book were sold on July 7, 1936 for the then unheard of price of $50,000.00.

 

As of 2010 the book had sold 30 million copies, despite recent attacks on it by individuals amazed that people in the past did not have 21rst century views on race and many other topics.  Ironically, for her time, Mitchell was a racial liberal.  She funded scholarships for black students, for example, at Morehouse College and helped fund the first hospital for blacks in Atlanta.  She became friends with the actress Hattie McDaniel who became the first black to win an Oscar for her role as “Mammy”.

During World War II Mitchell threw herself into the war effort, including raising funds, christening ships and writing letters of support to servicemen.  She died on the evening of August 16, 1949, five days after being run over by a car while she and her husband were on their way to a theater to see a movie.  It was not Gone With the Wind.

 

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