MARGARET MITCHELL - TYPED LETTER SIGNED 09/21/1942 - HFSID 55661
Sale Price $3,400.00
Long personal letter to friend and fellow author Edwin Granberry, mentioning several literary friends and the exigencies of life in wartime
Typed Letter signed: "Margaret", 3 pages, 7¼x10. Atlanta, Georgia, 1942 September 21. On personal letterhead to "Dear Mabel and Edwin" [Granberry], in part: "I have been laying off to write to you for the longest and foolishly postponed doing so until I could write a long letter. That time may never come, and so I am grabbing this opportunity while the house painters are out at lunch. ... I've just come back from a quick trip to New York where John had to be on business. The only people I saw were the Clifford Dowdeys, who asked to be remembered to you. Clifford has been having fits trying to get into the army, with no luck so far because his eyes are bad. He has almost finished a new novel , which is about Memphis or Natchez in the 1830's. He told me news of Kenneth Littauer which I am passing on to you. He has been in the air corps for nearly a year, with the rank of major. His address is Headquarters 21st Bomb Group, MacDill Field, Tampa, Florida. I know you two are not doing much traveling now that gas is rationed, but I thought you might get down to Tampa sometime and would like to know that he is there. Of course I knew that he had done something wonderful in the last war, but I did not know how wonderful until Helen told me about his recent visit to New York. She was asking about the ribbons on his chest and, after practically dynamiting him, she learned that he had seven decorations in the last war, American, French and Belgian. The Dowdeys have heard nothing from Herschel and Norma and neither have I --- or, for that matter, any of their friends. They went to South America and the rest was silence. I suppose you have seen the three or four articles on South American literature and publishing that Herschel has written for the Times and Herald-Tribune during the last year. Lois Cole, of the Macmillan Company, had a nice but brief and un-newsy letter from him months ago, asking her to send him a number of collections of American short stories. She understood that he was going to translate them into Spanish and bring out an anthology in Columbia. We all hope that he is happy or at least busy and content in his new life. Columbia may have sounded like a quiet end-of-the-world place when he went there but if the war moves into the Caribbean or there are air raids on the coast of South America or German-inspired civil wars among our Southern neighbors develop, then Herschel will be in a hot spot. If this happens I'll be glad to know that the United States has someone of his temperament and abilities in Bogata. ... There hasn't been a minute since the war started for me to think about writing. The war had one good effect on me, at least, in that it diverted the attention of the public from me. The curtailing of travel has taken from my shoulders the burden of tourists. There are still enough letters and business affairs to take up some time but, with Father in the hospital, my work at the Red Cross and John's and my jobs as wardens, there is very little leisure in this family. We never dreamed that when John accepted a sector wardenship it would entail so much work. In a way it's like organizing a ward politically or forming a civilian army. Unfortunately, as all work is volunteer, there is no way of conscripting people for jobs or making them work at it once they have accepted jobs. The ones who take their positions seriously are wonderful, for they are all busy people and they do civilian defense work at considerable sacrifice. As for the others, I suppose it will take one good fire or bombing to get action out of them. A week or so ago we had a fine example of what actual raid conditions would be, when the siren blew a fuse, went haywire and screamed like a soul in torment at 3:45 a. m. As no one had announced a practice drill, our feeling was that something serious might be wrong. At this exact time, the specially bought five dollar flashlight, covered with red paper, refused to work. I do not know if you have ever tried to dress in complete darkness when you were in a hurry. We couldn't get our helmets unmixed, John could not find his britches, I gone on one high-heeled shoe and one low-heeled one, the zipper of my dress caught in my slip and, in fact, everything went wrong. Yet, we and our wardens were on the streets in less than three minutes getting light out and stopping traffic. The greatest number of casualties were inflicted by safety pins as wardens' wives tried to pin on armbands in the dark. I state with pride that we both got ours on without sticking each other. Now, Edwin, tell me about your writing and especially the play. When I was in New York I heard rumors that the Lunts were going to do a play this season about a pirate who was getting along and wanted to retire from active business. I have been hoping to hear that the Lunts or someone half as good as the Lunts would appear in your play. I imagine the war has unsettled the theatrical profession even as it has publishing and magazines. Everyone has the jitters, born of uncertainly abut the reactions of the wartime public. Are Sam Byrd and Mr. Windust - or is it Spindrift? - doing anything about your play? By the way, if you see Sam Byrd tell him I certainly liked his book. I have wondered what the Florida reaction was to it. This is about the time of the year when I should like to be writing you that we were getting in the car and starting for Winter Park. Dear me, how carelessly we leaped into automobiles and drove off in all directions in pre-war days. ... John weighs 175 pounds and has a pot. We are as proud of this pot as any Chinese mandarin because for fifteen years I couldn't get his weight above 145. And --- hold your breath --- I weigh 130 pounds. People are kind enough to say, 'You don't look it' and 'Where do you put it?'; then they furtively look at the palce where I put it and hastily avert their eyes. For your information on this subject, I enclose a clipping which shows all my chins. In justice to myself, I must say that this calico dress, which was something I and the sewing woman whipped up, does give me a bosom like Matzenauer. By the way, Jan Struther, who appears in the photograph with me, is a grand person. She had just heard the news of her husband's capture near Cairo before this luncheon but she made a friendly and informal talk which we all enjoyed, and never mentioned the bad news. Now, please write and tell us what the Granberrys are up to these days. Love to all of you." 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. Margaret Mitchell had been a famous beauty and a flirt with many suitors in her youth - not so unlike Scarlett O'Hara, and a bit of her consciousness of her appearance - laced with humor here - is evident in this letter. JOHN MARSH, Margaret Mitchell's husband from 1925 until her death. Had been a professor of English and philosophy at University of Kentucky-Henderson Community College, and played an important role in the writing of Gone With the Wind., editing her manuscript and offering suggestions. Interestingly, Marsh had been Mitchell's suitor before she married her first husband, ex-footballer and bootlegger Berrien "Red" Upshaw, in 1924. Her stormy marriage to Upshaw ended in divorce, and she married Marsh, an editor at the Atlanta Journal Sunday Journal, where she worked. He later became director of Georgia Power Company's advertising department. 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. There is no record of Granberry producing a successful play, however. CLIFFORD DOWDEY, who was best known for his books on the Civil War and Reconstruction period, would publish his novel, Tidewater early in 1943. KENNETH LITTAUER, a fiction editor at Collier's and founder of his own publishing firm, was indeed a highly decorated World War I veteran, having earned the Distinguished Service Cross among other honors. Mitchell met HERSCHEL BRICKELL, a literary critic from Ridgefield, Connecticut, and his wife, NORMA, at a writers' retreat at Blowing Rock in August 1936. Brickell had also written a publication day review of Gone With the Wind in the "New York Post", calling the book a "striking piece of literature." Editor LOIS COLE, a close friend of Mitchell's from her time as in MacMillan's Atlanta office, moved to the firms' New York office and played a significant role in interesting the company in Gone With the Wind. ALFRED LUNT and his spouse LYNN FONTANNE were America's most prominent acting couple from the 1920s into the 1960s, appearing together in 24 plays, and recently honored on a US stamp. Multiple mailing folds. Toned. Otherwise, fine condition.
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