MACON, Ga. -- In April 1936, a few weeks before Gone With the Wind was published, the novel’s author was the guest speaker at a Saturday breakfast in downtown Macon.
She had friends here. They knew her as Peggy, Peggy Marsh. Her novel would bear her now famous maiden name: Margaret Mitchell.
An article in the next day’s Macon Telegraph -- a piece written by one of her acquaintances, fellow newspaper columnist Blythe McKay -- described how “Margaret Mitchell Marsh, tiny, brunette, clad in spring-like apple green suit and wine hat that shaded her animated features, enchanted the more than 200 guests with her informality and her subtle humor.”
Now, 75 years and a couple of months after that visit, a documentary about the world renowned author, Margaret Mitchell: American Rebel, will be shown at the Douglass Theatre on Wednesday evening, the night before its television premiere on GPB. A panel discussion on the writer’s life and work will follow.
The film set out to capture the spirit of a homegrown literary hero, one who didn’t put on airs -- a quality made evident at her breakfast appearance here before the Macon Writers Club in 1936.
Pamela Roberts, the GPB documentary’s executive producer, says the film may dispel some misconceptions about Mitchell.
“We think, ‘OK, she was probably just a little housewife who sat down in her apartment and churned out this great big book.’ Then you find out that she is this very forward-thinking modern woman who is essentially, without ever using the term, an early feminist,” Roberts said.
“You’ll learn that Margaret Mitchell was really complicated and yet delightful. ... She didn’t take herself too seriously. She didn’t ever say, ‘I’m a great writer.’ ... Never bought a house, never bought fancy clothes, never bought new car. ... She sounds like a saint. But on the other hand, she’s a swearing, just this rebellious person who just doesn’t care what society thinks about her. ... She really is a rebel for all time.”