This is a part of a series called Literary South, which highlights important literary landmarks and the writers and authors who made them known.
Margaret Mitchell was born in Atlanta, Georgia on November 8, 1900. She was born into a notable local family and was an avid reader and tomboy. After college, she married Berrien “Red” Upshaw, who earned money as a bootlegger. Her family disapproved of him and he was an abusive alcoholic. They later divorced and she married John Marsh, who was the best man at her first wedding.
Mitchell needed money following her divorce, so she took a job at The Atlanta Journal Sunday Magazine. She wrote a number of articles for the publication, including interviewing Rudolph Valentino. Her journalism career ended in 1926 after an ankle injury caused her to stay home indefinitely.
Her interest in romance novels led to the writing of her first book at age 15. Many novels she started writing but never published have been released posthumously. In 1926, she began what would become her penultimate work, Gone with the Wind, which took her three years to complete.
First published in 1936, the book tells of Scarlett O’Hara, a woman living on a plantation in Clayton County, Georgia during the Civil War and Reconstruction. More than 30 million copies have been sold worldwide and the book went on to become a well-known movie starring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable.
Margaret Mitchell Landmarks in Georgia
Margaret Mitchell House, Atlanta
The Margaret Mitchell House and Museum, known fondly by Margaret and her husband John Marsh as “The Dump,” is where the couple lived after getting married in 1925. Apartment 1 of the Crescent Apartments has now been transformed into a museum devoted to the life of the writer.
Originally built in 1899 as a single-family home, it was remodeled in 1919 as an apartment building. It fell into disrepair in the 1920s and was sold at auction. The Marshes moved away and it was slated for demolition many times throughout the years. In 1995, it was purchased, renovated and turned into a museum.
The Margaret Mitchell House is operated by the Atlanta History Center and has returned it to the condition of when the author penned Gone With the Wind. Inside you’ll find memorabilia from the movie premiere, manuscripts, and pieces of furniture from the apartment. The museum also hosts regular events and author readings.
The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10 am to 5:30 pm and Sundays from 12 to 5:30 pm. General admission tickets are $13 for adults, $10 for seniors and students and $8.50 for children. You can buy joint tickets with other Atlanta History Center locations as well as with the Atlanta CityPass.
Access to the house is available from the Midtown Station or by car, where you can park on-site in the shared lot with Delta Community Credit Union.
Central Library, Atlanta
Atlanta’s downtown Atlanta-Fulton Public Library central branch has a special collection on its fifth floor of important artifacts from the life of Atlanta’s most notable writer. On display are her library card, her typewriter, copies of her book translated into dozens of languages, original manuscripts, and photographs. The items were donated at the bequest after the death of John Marsh.
The special exhibit at the library is free and open to the public. You can visit Monday from 10 am to 5 pm, Tuesday from 10 am to 7 pm, Wednesday and Thursday from 12 to 6 pm, and Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5 pm.
The library is around the corner from the Peachtree Center Station Ellis Street exit. There is no parking available on site but there are many paid decks nearby on Peachtree and Spring streets.
Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta
Margaret Mitchell died in 1949 after being struck by a car while crossing the street after seeing a movie with her husband. Margaret Mitchell’s grave is just one of many notable sites in Oakland Cemetery, one of the oldest and largest in the city. You’ll see views of downtown among the headstones. Mitchell’s grave is denoted by signs to make it easy to find.
You can wander the cemetery on your own or go on a guided tour. The cemetery is free and open to the public, from 9 am to 5 pm Monday to Friday and weekends from 9 am to dusk. Free parking is available onsite, or you can walk 7-10 minutes from the King Memorial Station.