LUCKY PUBLICATION—MARGARET MITCHELL. I think that GONE WITH THE WIND is one of the great books of the last century. Here is how it came to be published. In 1934, Harold Latham of the Macmillan Publishing Company made a trip through the southern part of the United States and through Texas to California, looking for manuscripts, just as he had been doing annually in Great Britain. At a luncheon in Atlanta arranged by the local writers’ guild, he sat next to Margaret Mitchell, who had been a member of the guild since her days as a journalist. Latham had heard she had written a novel, and asked her several times whether she had a novel. Each time she denied that she had. At the end of the day, Mitchell was driving some young girls home when one of them said some dismissive things, including, as Mitchell recounted it, “Really, I wouldn’t take you for the type who would write a successful book.” Mitchell was so mad that she grabbed the parts of her manuscript that she could lay her hands on, “forgetting entirely that I hadn’t included the envelopes that were under the bed or the ones in the pot-and-pan closet” and gave them to Latham just as he was about to board his train. She told Latham, “Take the damn thing before I change my mind.” Latham put the piles of envelopes in a suitcase. (We saw the suitcase exhibited at the Margaret Mitchell Museum.) The next day, Mitchell sent Latham a telegram saying, “Send it back, I’ve changed my mind.” But by this time, Latham knew what he had in the suitcase.

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