Thursday, February 21, 2019

The Real Scarlett O'Hara?

Vivian Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara

In 1936, a young former reporter for the Atlanta Journal published her one and only novel, a book called Gone With the Wind, about the American Civil War and Reconstruction in Georgia.  Even in the 21st century, a Harris poll found that it is the second most popular book among American readers.  Second only to the Bible.  Thirty million copies have been sold worldwide.

Interestingly, it was the mother of President Theodore Roosevelt, Martha “Mittie” Bulloch Roosevelt who provided much of the inspiration for the character of Scarlett O’Hara in the book.

"Mittie" Bulloch Roosevelt

In 1839, Mittie’s father, Major James Bulloch moved his family to Cobb County Georgia.  He built a fine mansion called Bulloch Hall.  Mittie was a true Southern belle, who in 1853, at the age of eighteen, married Theodore Roosevelt Sr. of New York .

Bulloch Hall

In his autobiography published in 1913, her son Theodore Roosevelt Jr. described his mother, “My mother, Martha Bulloch, was a sweet, gracious, beautiful Southern woman, a delightful companion and beloved by everybody. She was entirely 'unreconstructed' to the day of her death.”

Margaret Mitchell, the author of Gone With The Wind, lived her entire life in Atlanta, absorbing local stories told by those who had lived through the Civil War and Reconstruction.  Mitchell had, in fact, interviewed Mittie's closest childhood friend and bridesmaid, Evelyn King, for a story in the Atlanta Journal.  In that interview, Mittie's beauty, charm, and fun-loving nature were described in detail, making her the perfect prototype for the character of Scarlett O’Hara.  Originally, however, Mitchell named her heroine Pansy O’Hara.  Scarlett seems more appropriate, all things considered.

The last death agonies of the Confederacy captured in pictures.

A portrait of Holly Springs, a small but prosperous town in northern Mississippi’s Marshall County, during the years of the American Civil War and the era of Reconstruction. This is a glimpse of life in Mississippi during these dramatic years, relying on the words of the people who lived during that time and on other primary historical sources to tell the story.

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