Southern Daughter: The Life of Margaret Mitchell

Darden Asbury Pyron, Author Oxford University Press, USA $30 (576p) ISBN 978-0-19-505276-3
In more than 500 pages, packed with details from archives and interviews, Pyron, professor of history at Florida International University, delivers the definitive biography of the author of Gone with the Wind. Included is well-informed analysis of the 1936 novel and of David Selznick's 1940 film epic about the Civil War in Georgia. But the book's major achievement is the sympathetic yet objective coverage of Mitchell, from her birth in Atlanta in 1900 to her death in 1949 in a car accident. A mass of contradictions, the novelist emerges here as shy yet bold and flirty, as insecure yet tough enough to compete with overbearing males during her journalism career, as essentially a very private person. She had so little faith in her talent that she kept her 10 years of work on GWTW secret from all but her husband, John Marsh. Pyron suggests that Mitchell's vividly portrayed characters (some based on kin) explain the novel's appeal and staying power, which he attributes also to the book's historical reality. One senses in Pyron the passion for accuracy that drove the novelist; it yields here an utterly absorbing biography. Photos not seen by PW . (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/30/1991
Release date: 10/01/1991
Paperback - 676 pages - 978-0-06-097501-2
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