Sunday, January 29, 2012

Travel: Margaret Mitchell's 'Dump' of a House

Sorry if ya'll are sick of Gone With the Wind already---but I have an extra bit of GWTW fanfare to show you! While this week's posts were going live, my older sister, my niece, and I visited the Margaret Mitchell house in downtown Atlanta. I didn't think I'd get a chance to see it so it was a keen surprise to be able to go, and my young niece is as huge a fan as I am, so she was ecstatic to come along.

There is not a whole lot to see at the 'house', which is actually just one apartment in what had once been an apartment building ( It is apartment on the lower left-hand side). It is still worth visiting, however, because of the excellent tours and information about the book's time, reception, the life of Margaret Mitchell, and the making of the film. Margaret Mitchell lived there for only a few years, yet it is where she began and wrote most of her famous novel. The building was burned down twice--and very likely by GWTW fanatics--because Margaret herself called it "the dump" and there was nothing of hers that actually remained in it. All the furnishings in it now are "of the time" but none belonged to the author. Still, there is a wealth of information and a fantastic gift shop to boot. We were surprised at learning a number of interesting things:

  • That Margaret Mitchell had written the novel for fun, and only submitted it to an editor when a lady writer said she could never have anything worth publishing or be a real writer. Pride can be an instigator of great feats!
  • That there is much of Margaret herself in the character of Scarlett. She was a journalist with the Atlanta Journal and Constitution when few women even held a job.
  • That the novel was an instant success, making Margaret a millionaire within the first year, and that it was read equally by men as well as by women.

After the apartment tour (in which they wouldn't allow photos), we checked out the film-making museum. It was cool to see clips of the four other actresses rehearsing parts for the movie--it's so hard to imagine any other actress than Vivien Leigh! 
The original painting of Scarlett seen in Rhett's bedroom in the film was there--and crazy to learn that it had hung in the lunch room of a public school for nearly 12 years!

My niece and I, GWTW nuts!

Finally, a real piece of Tara was there--the Hollywood set door. Most of the film was made on a Hollywood set indoors--even the big fire scene, where they burned down the wood frame used in King Kong.

As for the Margaret Mitchell house itself, whether you are a fan of the novel or not, it is a great place to visit to learn about Atlanta's legacy with the Gone With the WInd phenomena, as so much of the history of Atlanta itself and of the Old South are alive in the novel.

Ok, so now I am REALLY finished with my Gone With the Wind theme week! I hope all of you who didn't comment enjoyed it anyhow, and for those of you who did, I'm assured that so many of you love GWTW as much as I do, so thank-you! 

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