Born in 1900 in Atlanta, Georgia, Margaret Mitchell was a writer and a Southerner throughout her life. She grew up hearing stories about the American Civil War and the Reconstruction from her tyrannical Irish American grandmother who endured its suffering. Her forceful and intellectual mother was a suffragist who fought for the rights of women to vote. As a young woman, Mitchell found love with an army lieutenant who was killed in World War One, and she would carry his memory for the remainder of her life. After studying at Smith College for a year, during which time her mother died from the Spanish flu, she returned to Atlanta. An unsuccessful marriage to an abusive bootlegger husband followed. She then got a job writing feature articles for the Atlanta Journal at a time when Atlanta debutantes did not work. She married again, this time to a man who shared her interest in writing and literature.
Margaret Mitchell began writing Gone with the Wind in 1926 to pass the time while recovering from an auto-crash injury that refused to heal. In April 1935, Harold Latham of MacMillan, an editor who was looking for new fiction, read what she had written and saw that it could be a best-seller. After Latham had agreed to publish the book, Mitchell worked for another six months checking the historical references and rewriting the opening chapter several times. Mitchell and her husband John Marsh, a copy editor by trade, edited the final version of the novel. Mitchell wrote the book's final moments first and then wrote the events that led up to it. Gone With the Wind was released to the public in June 1936.