HomeStart HereTrails, Towns, Writers & HousesTrail EventsTravel InfoOrganizers

     

Home > Start Here > Georgia > Atlanta  

     

  

ATLANTA: MARGARET MITCHELL & JOEL CHANDLER HARRIS

  Margaret Mitchell - Atlanta, GA

Margaret Mitchell

Joel Chandler Harris - Atlanta, GA
Joel Chandler Harris

I want to be famous in some way -- a speaker, artist, writer, soldier, fighter, stateswoman, or anything nearly. Margaret Mitchell, from an entry in her journal on January 7, 1915, at age fifteen.

A city as great as Atlanta deserves an epic novel. Margaret Mitchell delivered one for her hometown and titled it Gone with the Wind. The former writer for The Atlanta Journal was not prepared for the fame that Gone with the Wind laid at her front door after its publication in June 1936. After smashing all publication records with GWTW, Mitchell complained to The Atlanta Constitution on November 9, 1936: I can't put cold cream on my face during the day. As sure as I do, Bessie the maid goes to the store and a delegation of women call to interview me. I go to the door with the cream all over my face and my head wrapped up in a towel and they come in and there I am.

Mitchell wrote GWTW in an apartment on Peachtree that she called "The Dump" now restored as the Margaret Mitchell House and Museum, a center for literary arts in the Southeast. As a child, she had been fascinated by the Civil War stories shared with her by Confederate veterans who did not soften their language for the strong-willed "Peggy." Peggy also had a taste for
mischief that got her into trouble with Atlanta's Junior League.

  Midtown historical marker, outside the Mitchell House Margaret Mitchell as a young child Margaret Mitchell House at night Margaret Mitchell  
 

Midtown historical marker, outside
the Mitchell House

Margaret Mitchell as a young child Margaret Mitchell House at night

Margaret Mitchell

 

For her society debut in 1920, Peggy prepared to dance the Apache, a provocative Parisian street dance of the Jazz Age, with Sigmund Weil, a friend from Georgia Tech. They delivered a sensational performance during the ball at the Georgian Terrace Hotel. One shocked Victorian matron declared, I thought this was supposed to be an Indian dance! Did you see how he kissed her? After her scandalous debut, Peggy Mitchell was denied a membership by the Junior League. Decades later, when the film version of GWTW opened in Atlanta amongst citywide jubilation and starstruck crowds, Mitchell declined the League's invitation to its premiere party.

Mitchell used her fame and GWTW money for social causes that she pursued with Scarlett O'Hara's determination. During World War II, she worked for the Red Cross, and despite fragile health, she accepted invitations to commission the Navy cruisers named for Atlanta. Her concern over the lack of black doctors in Georgia prompted her to donate scholarships for
African-American medical students at Morehouse College. Mitchell died in 1949 five days after being struck by a cab as she crossed Peachtree Street near "The Dump," home to the best selling novel in history.

  Margaret Mitchell at the typewriter on which she wrote GWTW December 15, 1939, Premiere of GWTW Margaret Mitchell won the Pulitzer Prize in 1937 for her bestseller GWTW In a Red Cross auction, Margaret Mitchell presents a gift she received from Japan  
 

Margaret Mitchell at the typewriter on which she
wrote GWTW

December 15, 1939, Premiere of GWTW Margaret Mitchell won the
Pulitzer Prize in 1937
for her bestseller GWTW

In a Red Cross auction,
Margaret Mitchell
presents a gift she
received from Japan

 

In an earlier age of Southern writing and storytelling, Joel Chandler Harris of Atlanta created a global sensation with his first collection, Uncle Remus: His Songs and His Sayings. Never out of print since its first publication, the book has been translated into over thirty languages. The Uncle Remus stories were inspired by the oral storytelling traditions of African-Americans, formerly enslaved, and Harris wrote them in dialect. The Atlanta Constitution first published his stories in 1876, and by the time of the writer's death in 1908, Harris was surpassed in popularity only by Mark Twain.

  Joel Chandler Harris Wren's Nest The historical Fox Theater on Peachtree Street  
 

Joel Chandler Harris

The Wren's Nest

The historic Fox Theater on Peachtree Street 

 

Like his fellow Atlantan Margaret Mitchell, Harris was overwhelmed by letters from international readers who asked for more stories about Brer Rabbit and a menagerie of animal characters. Though the content and dialects of the Uncle Remus stories became a source of debate during the mid to late 20th Century, they endure as celebrations of the human sprit and testaments to the power of storytelling. In his life and career, Harris supported social and economic reconciliation between the races. 

Today, the author's home in Atlanta, The Wren's Nest, continues its tradition as the city's oldest house museum, opened in 1913 with the support of Andrew Carnegie and President Theodore Roosevelt. The museum became a National Historic Landmark in 1962. The Wren's Nest actively supports education, literacy and programs that preserve the storytelling traditions of its most famous occupant, Joel Chandler Harris.

  Gold dome of Georgia's Capitol Exhibit Banner, Atlanta's High Museum  
 

Gold dome of Georgia's Capitol

Exhibit Banner, Atlanta's High Museum 

 

 

  New Georgia Encyclopedia

For more information on Margaret Mitchell & Joel Chandler Harris, link here to their listing in the New Georgia Encyclopedia supported by the Georgia Humanities Council.

> Margaret Mitchell
> Joel Chandler Harris

 
> View Trail Events
> View all Authors of TrailFest
> Go to Travel Information