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MARGARET MITCHELL - TYPED LETTER SIGNED 04/03/1944 - HFSID 55647

The author of Gone With the Wind writes defensively about the South's reaction to a quite different novel about the region, Strange Fruit. The lengthy letter to friend and fellow author Edwin Granberry discusses literary friends, and the travails of everyday life in wartime America

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MARGARET MITCHELL
The author of Gone With the Wind writes defensively about the South's reaction to a quite different novel about the region, Strange Fruit. The lengthy letter to friend and fellow author Edwin Granberry discusses literary friends, and the travails of everyday life in wartime America
Typed Letter signed: "Margaret", 2 pages (front and verso), 7¼x10½. Atlanta, 1944 April 3. To "Dear Edwin" [Granberry], in full: "I've delayed answering your fine letter because I wanted to read 'Strange Fruit' before I wrote to you. Now it looks that I will not have a chance to read it till next Christmas. (for reasons I will go into later) and I am answering your letter lest you think I never received it. As you perhaps know, I have a magpie mind chocked full of inconsequential shining bits of information. While I was never able to recall the chemical formula for water, I could recall twenty years later who went to school with who and where. So I remembered when I read the first review of 'Strange Fruit' that you had known her long ago and had discussed her with me when she and her associate were calling their magazine 'Pseudopodia.' I was very interested in your reaction and am looking forward to reading it myself. It has not made much of a splash here but the few people who have read it say the background is well done, although the main characters are shadowy. As usual in any book about the South which is any way is derogatory, everyone fears that out-of-the-section readers will think it typical of the whole South instead of being the exception. The book stores were indignant at Time Magazine for saying that they refused to stock the book at first. All the stores stocked heavily and so did the public library. Book stores here report a good sale to wealthy Negroes. Willie Snow Ethridge, formerly of Macon and now of Louisville, Kentucky, was here last week for the publication of her 'This Little Pig Stayed at h\Home.' She reported heavy buying by colored people in Louisville. While I have not read the book, I can understand your bemusement that the publisher who thinks this book a humdinger also thinks your book a peacheroo. Still and all, I do believe publishers have good sense sometimes and, regardless of what he thinks of anybody else's book, I know he's right if he thinks yours is good. I am glad to know that your book is 'nearly completed.' I suppose that means fall publication. Will it be possible that you and Mabel could come up here and act like authors? The festivities surrounding publication dates for authors have fallen off on account of the war and lack of gasoline and whiskey and orchids, but still we could whoop up something. I wish you and Mabel would come up, book or no book, for I do not see any chance of John and me getting to Florida until after the war. In the first place, we do not wish to be numbered among those people who crowd into Florida because they have the money to do so and crowd out wives and families of convalescent service men and service men who are stationed in Florida We've heard too many bitter stories from army and navy wives who were unable to pay Florida rates because of the tourists there. Another reason is that, Father being still feeble and requiring more care and medical attendants being scarcer, we just cannot get away. On top of those things, I'm not doing too well these days. A year ago I decided to get something done about a bad back which had plagued me for some years and went to Johns Hopkins Hospital and had an operation. It went all wrong and I have been much worse off than before. Just going back and forth to the hospital to see Father or to the library or to get my hair washed is about my limit. So you can see why we wish you would come up here. There are so few people with whom we can talk all night and we have missed our talks with you and Mabel. We feel so damned dull these days and would certainly like to see you. I haven't heard of anyone who has heard from Herschel and Norma since they went to Colombia, South America, before Pearl Harbor. I think Herschel is a sort of cultural relations man with the Embassy there. I heard through publishing circles that he was in this country six months ago, probably about the publication of 'The Best Short Stories' which he edits, but no one seems to have seen him. I thought if anyone saw him it would be the Dowdeys in New York, but they had no word of him either. I suppose no news is good news and I hope they are both happy in their new life. As they speak Spanish and love Spanish people, they should be very valuable persons in South America. I understand that many of the people we send on good neighbor missions drive the South Americans to frenzies. So, whoever picked the Brickells displayed common sense. John is working harder than ever because the war has snatched off so many of his office force. He had broken in and trained several boys who he expected would take some of the burden from his back. Now they are gone and others will go soon and, instead of doing less work, his work has quadrupled. We are air raid wardens and have done bond sales and Red Cross work and all the civilian front activities. When I could do it, I worked on surgical dressings and I miss doing it now. I don't know what happened to Walter Paschall, as I have not heard from him in ages, and do not even know where he is stationed now. I did hear that he had gotten himself engaged and, between being in love and being in the army, that is probably why you've never heard from him. Please write and let us know when you expect to finish the book and tell us what the boys are doing. No need to ask what Mabel is doing; I know she is wrestling with Red Cross and ration points, and that is a full time job. We've been so lucky in that our Bessie is still with us. Otherwise John and I would have perished. Love to you and Mabel [signature] Handwritten postscript: "P. S. No, I am doing no writing. Between Father and my back which won't bend I can't manage it." MARGARET MITCHELL MARSH (1900-1949), a native of Atlanta, Georgia, was awarded the 1937 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction for Gone With the Wind, her epic novel set against the backdrop of the American Civil War and Reconstruction South. At first uncertain about her book's literary merit, she had submitted her manuscript to Macmillan Company in 1935. Mitchell was stunned -- and thrust into the public spotlight -- when the book sold over 1.3 million copies in its first year. It remained on the best-seller list for 21 weeks, enjoying resurgence in sales with the release of the 1939 film based on the novel. Edwin Granberry, a freelance book reviewer and critic, had reviewed her book in a glowing and unprecedented 1,200-word piece in the New York "Evening Sun" on June 30, 1936, the day of the book's publication. Mitchell had been so impressed by the report, which compared her book to Tolstoy's War and Peace, that she had written to thank him. Her letter started a lifelong correspondence -- and a friendship between the two couples: Margaret and her husband, John Marsh, and Edwin (a Southerner himself) and his wife, Mabel. Margaret and John first met the Granberrys at Blowing Rock, North Carolina, the summer campus of Florida's Rollins College, where Granberry was a Professor of English. It was during this visit that she had agreed to accept $50,000 in movie rights for her book pending contract negotiations with producer David O. Selznick (against Granberry's advice). Granberry was himself a noted author, a winner of the O'Henry Award for best short story. Strange Fruit (1944), a best-selling debut novel by Lillian Smith, dealt with interracial romance and violence in the contemporary South. Banned in Boston and Detroit (but not in Atlanta, according to Mitchell), the book was also banned from the US mail until First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt persuaded her husband to lift the ban. The title was inspired by the Billie Holiday song about lynchings. Multiple mailing folds. Lightly toned and creased. Otherwise, fine condition.

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