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Before Scarlett
Girlhood Writings of Margaret Mitchell

Edited by Jane Eskridge

The first scribblings from the author of Gone with the Wind, highlighting her natural talent and curiosity

"I want to be famous in some way—a speaker, artist, writer, soldier, fighter, stateswoman, or anything nearly. If I were a boy, I would try for West Point, if I could make it, or well I'd be a prizefighter—anything for the thrills. I think there is a piece in the Bible that says 'knock and it shall be opened unto you, ask and thou shalt receive.' Of course, I'm sensible enough to know that I've got to try as well as ask, and I have tried, in my way, to do the best, and heaven knows that I asked enough to be the smartest person on earth—only I'm not. Quite a difference. Well, here's one more try for 1915."—Margaret Mitchell at age fifteen, journal entry

Discovered one sultry summer in an Atlanta basement full of sixty years' worth of accumulated debris, the writings of a young Margaret Mitchell reveal a prodigious and inspirational talent for such a young girl. The writer, who would later pen the best-selling book of all time after the Bible (and one that still sells more than 200,000 copies annually), was a precocious, imaginative, headstrong rebel and yet as distracted by everyday concerns about parental approval and social insecurities as any child. Nevertheless, as shown in the pages of Before Scarlett, Mitchell displayed an amazing talent through her writing of letters, journals, short stories, and one-act plays (later staged in her midtown Atlanta home). From westerns and shipwreck tales to stories of scalawags and musings on her best friends and boys, Mitchell demonstrated a finesse for challenging authority and striking out on her own—personality traits not surprising for the society debutante who was later rejected by the Junior League of Atlanta because of a racy dance she performed at one of their balls and the author who would later cope with the pressures of international fame measured against her personal philanthropic efforts for African American causes in racially divided Atlanta. Mitchell's is a story of youthful independence and talent. Fully illustrated with twenty-eight recently discovered writings, this collection is perfect for any young writer, or anyone interested in the early writings of one of America's most popular authors.

Jane Eskridge teaches social sciences in Greensboro, North Carolina.

"Like discovering the secret diary of Scarlett O'Hara."—Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"Great insight into her natural talent."—Minneapolis Star-Tribune

"It is amazing to think that a girl at such a tender age wrote these stories."—Richmond Times-Dispatch

"Provides a comprehensive portrait of the celebrated author's early life."—Publishers Weekly

 
 

 

Book jacket for Before Scarlett


 

WOMEN'S HISTORY | LITERATURE
(2011)
5 ½ x 8 ½
240 pages
35 illustrations
ISBN 978-1-57003-938-6
paperback, $21.95t
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