Archive for Thursday, December 22, 2011

Letter to Kansas doctor says ‘Gone With the Wind’ author was too busy for second book

Author Margaret Mitchell, inset, wrote "Gone With the Wind" in 1936. It was her only book. A newly uncovered letter reveals why.

Author Margaret Mitchell, inset, wrote "Gone With the Wind" in 1936. It was her only book. A newly uncovered letter reveals why.

December 22, 2011


— Margaret Mitchell wrote one of the most popular American novels of all time when she published “Gone With the Wind” 75 years ago.

But she never followed up the Civil War drama with another story before she died in 1949, hit by a drunken driver as she and her husband walked to a movie theater.

Now a Missouri medical journal has unearthed a letter from Mitchell to a Kansas “horse and buggy” doctor in which she says she was too busy tending to her ailing father to attempt another book.

From her Atlanta home in September 1944, she wrote Dr. Arthur Hertzler of Halstead, Kan., complimenting him on his new “Ventures in Science of a Country Surgeon.” She also writes:

“I had intended to write you about the thyroid book, but my father died in June and I did not have time or the heart. He had been ill so long — six years in all, and the last three in the hospital. ... When people ask why I have not written another book, I look at them in wonder, for how can one do creative work in a constant worry like this or when physical fatigue reaches the point of exhaustion every day. I hope that my own health will improve now that I do not have to bend over high hospital beds or fix pillows or lift or strain.”

A story about the doctor (whose files also held a letter from Albert Einstein) is published in the new issue of Missouri Medicine, the journal of the Missouri State Medical Association. The article is written by Drs. Jane F. Knapp and Robert D. Schremmer. Missouri Medicine is edited by Dr. John Hagan III.

Hertzler’s books included 20 medical textbooks and 1938’s best-selling “The Horse and Buggy Doctor.”

Mitchell won the Pulitzer Prize for “Gone With the Wind.” The New Georgia Encyclopedia speculates about the reason Mitchell never wrote another book:

“Possibly one of the reasons that Mitchell never wrote another novel was that she spent so much time working with her brother and her husband to protect the copyright of her book abroad. Up until the publication of ‘Gone With the Wind,’ international copyright laws were ambiguous and varied from country to country.

“With the outbreak of World War II (1941-45), she worked tirelessly for the American Red Cross, even outfitting a hospital ship.”


Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 11 months ago

"It is better to leave only one work of greatness than many that are only good." - Ron Holzwarth

Bob Forer 5 years, 11 months ago

"I have said what I wanted to say and I will not say it again"

--Harper Lee

Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 11 months ago

It's something like that, but not quite. I had to look it up, because that sounded a bit odd to me. Correctly:

"We got to have a doctor, I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' babies!" - Prissy, played by Thelma McQueen, in 'Gone With The Wind' (1939)

Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 11 months ago

And, "After all... tomorrow is another day." - Scarlett O'Hara, played by Vivien Leigh

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 11 months ago

Believe it or not, I've actually read Hertzler's "The Horse and Buggy Doctor".

Janis Pool 5 years, 11 months ago

Was it good for the times or is it still worth while?

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 11 months ago

It's still quite worthwhile. It gives a glimpse into a past that's long gone.

roadwarrior 5 years, 11 months ago

"Don't you be gwona to Atlanta, y'ell jes be getting yelsself in trouble in Atlanta !" Mammy had some pretty good lines.

George_Braziller 5 years, 11 months ago

The novel is much better (and different) than the movie. Entire story lines and characters were cut and in the process a lot of the original grit and angst of the novel were lost.

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 11 months ago

My daughter (now 38) read GWTW when she was nine years old and it remains one of her all time favorite novels. (This also happens to be the kid that was reading at four and reading and understanding newspapers at seven.)

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