Lot 692: TLS, one page, 7 x 7.75, personal letterhead, June 5, 1936. Letter to Robert Saltmarsh, a bookseller from New Bedford, Massachusetts, in full: "Your kind letter gave me so much pleasure that I had to write to you just as soon as I finished reading it. I appreciated, more than I can ever tell you, all your nice remarks. Especially I was interested in your reactions as a New Englander. I did not wish to write a bitter or biased book. I hope it did not sound that way for I hate 'professional Southerners' almost as much as Northerners do. I tried to let the facts stand on their own feet without either reviling or sentimentalizing and I thank you for saying you thought it a fair picture. I must upbraid you for your statement about 'never annoying authors with such letters.' I do not know about how other authors feel and, as this is my first book, I really do not know how a dyed-in-the-wool author should feel. I know I was so pleased and excited to know that some one liked the book that I fairly capered! You see, it comes as a surprise to me that anyone should like it. I wrote it about ten years ago and I did not think very much of it. I thought so little of it that I never submitted it to my publisher. In fact it was so well hidden that when the Macmillan Company man was here and wanted to see it, the house had to be torn up to find it. And I let him have it with fear and trembling and nearly had a stroke when he bought it. So you can understand my pleasure at a kind word! I remember your town of New Bedford with so much pleasure. I went to Smith College and while there always promised myself a trip to New Bedford and Nantucket. While Northerners may picture the South as a romantic and exciting place, I had always pictured those two places as romantic and exciting. I had read so much about them. My college career was cut short by my family's need of me at home and my departure from the North was hasty but I could not pass up the trip to New Bedford and Nantucket. So I made the wildest, fastest trip through New England ever recorded and actually did see those towns. And I wasn't a bit disappointed. I loved New Bedford even if there weren't any whales tied up at the docks as I had fondly hoped. I have always been sorry I could not have had a longer stay there. But, at least, I saw the town and I wasn't disappointed." Affixed to a same-size sheet. Evenly trimmed edges, horizontal folds, trivial creasing and soiling, and some light foxing, otherwise fine condition.
Nearly a decade after she originally wrote her Civil War saga, a chance offer from a traveling scout from Macmillan prompted Mitchell to recover and laboriously rework her long hidden manuscript. Written just five days before the book would finally hit the shelves, this letter reveals the author's decision to let the "facts stand on their own feet without either reviling or sentimentalizing." Mitchell managed to strike a unique and impartial balance with both northern and southern audiences in her debut novel, retelling the Civil War stories she had gleaned from her childhood while offering an accurate depiction of slavery and plantation life. Much to the amazement of Mitchell, Gone With the Wind became an instant and unprecedented success at the time of its release, topping the fiction bestseller lists with nearly one million copies sold by the end of the same calendar year.
RR Auction's Fine Autographs & Artifacts
Friday, 23rd October 2015
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