Before there was Scarlett O'Hara, there was Margaret Mitchell. The author had suffered a series of physical injuries that made her unfit to continue her career as a reporter for the Atlanta Journal. Bored off the job, she decided to entertain herself by writing the story of a woman named Pansy O'Hara. She wrote on a Remington typewriter, a gift from second husband John R. Marsh.
Pansy’s life was traced through the South during the Civil War and throughout the Reconstruction era. Mitchell took direction from stories she heard her parents and relatives recount, as well as from war veterans she met as a little girl in Atlanta. Though the novel was later criticized for it's romanticized view of the Old South and disregard for the traumas of slavery, it was an instant bestseller.
Mitchell was reluctant to show her work but eventually sent her manuscript to Harold Latham, a New York’s MacMillan Publishing editor. The book was not even completed, but Latham saw it's potential. He asked Mitchell to finish the story but asked her to change the protagonist's name. Mitchell decided to rename Pansy O'Hara to Scarlett.
Finally, on June 30th, 1936, Gone with the Wind was published. Mitchell's lengthy novel sold millions of copies around the globe. Mitchell was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1937, although the book was accused of whitewashing slavery. Despite the criticism, it was soon given the Hollywood treatment, with Vivian Leigh playing the hardened heroine. Mitchell was paid $50,000 for the rights to her story, a new record in the industry.