Ellen Brown and John Wiley discuss Gone With the Wind Feb. 23

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Coming to New Dominion Bookshop:

Ellen F. Brown and John Wiley, Jr. will discuss and

present selections from their new work

Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind: A Bestseller’s Odyssey from Atlanta to Hollywood

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

12:15 PM

New Dominion Bookshop

Selected by Publishers Weekly as one of ten highlighted books for spring 2011 in the field of performing arts.

In the seventy-five years since Gone With the Wind’s publication, millions of people the world over have speculated about what happened after Rhett Butler told Scarlett O’Hara he didn’t give a damn. Whether author Margaret Mitchell envisioned a reconciliation for her famous lovers is one of many intriguing questions surrounding the legendary novel and its enigmatic creator.

Granted unprecedented access to GWTW records and correspondence, Ellen F. Brown and John Wiley, Jr., examine the biggest mystery of them all: how a disorganized and incomplete manuscript by an unknown Southern writer was discovered by a major New York publisher and became one of the most popular, profitable, and controversial novels in literary history. Various Mitchell biographies and several compilations of her letters tell part of the story, but until now no single source has delved into the full saga.

This entertaining and informative account traces Gone With the Wind from its origins in the Civil War-era experiences of Mitchell’s relatives through its status today as a pop culture icon that still generates impressive profits for her estate. At the core of the story is Mitchell’s struggle to capture on paper the sights, sounds and smells of antebellum Georgia and how she dealt with her book’s stunning success. Mitchell had no affinity for the celebrity status or legal complexities associated with being a bestselling author but accepted them with resignation and went on to build an international publishing empire amidst the Great Depression and World War II. Brown and Wiley answer the question once posed by the author’s husband, “How in the hell did she do it?”

Along the way, rumors are debunked and mysteries are solved—from who really deserves credit for unearthing and editing the manuscript to, at long last, Mitchell’s answer to the burning question of whether Scarlett gets Rhett back.

Critics have warmly received Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind: A Bestseller’s Odyssey. Publishers Weekly editor Dick Donahue wrote of his decision to include it in PW’s list of spring highlights: “History . . . plays a leading role—in real life and reel life—in Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind. How has this iconic film, released in 1939, captured the public’s imagination for nearly three-quarters of a century? (Frankly, my dear, I do give a damn.)” Library Journal deemed it a “detailed and well-documented account of the creation, publication, and ongoing product management of Margaret Mitchell’s famous novel of the Civil War South” that will “appeal to all fans of the book or the film, as well as popular literary history buffs and writers.”

About the authors:

Ellen F. Brown is a bibliophile. After a childhood spent with her nose in a book, Brown went to law school on the theory that she would be paid to read dusty old tomes with fancy leather bindings. After a decade of practicing environmental law, a field in which few of the case books are leatherbound, she decided to follow her dream via another route. In 2007, she opened an antiquarian bookselling business and became a freelance writer with a bent for all things bookish.

Today, Brown focuses her energies on the writing side of her career. She writes a regular column for Fine Books & Collections magazine and is now working on her second book.

Ellen lives in Richmond, Virginia’s historic Fan District with her husband, their two sons, and a Bassett hound named Leo. She is a member of Virginia Press Women and sits on the boards of the Library of Virginia Foundation

John Wiley, Jr., is an expert on Gone With the Wind and the life of its author, Margaret Mitchell. Over the past 40 years, he has assembled a collection of over 10,000 items of GWTW and Mitchell memorabilia—including every American edition of the novel and more than 700 foreign editions. His collection is featured in the Complete Gone With the Wind Sourcebook.

Wiley has published numerous articles on Mitchell and Gone With the Wind and has been interviewed by Entertainment Weekly, USA Today, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and The London Times. In 1997, he served as artistic adviser for the U.S. Postal Service’s 32-cent Gone With the Wind postage stamp in its 1930s Celebrate the Century series. For more than 20 years, he has published a quarterly newsletter, now called The Scarlett Letter, for GWTW fans and collectors.


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