Margaret Mitchell: Reporter

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Margaret Mitchell: Reporter. Patrick Allen, ed. Atlanta: Hill Street Press, 2000. 352 pp. $23.95 hbk.

Margaret Mitchell: Reporter should be added to the library of anyone interested in the author of Gone with the Wind, in the history of the Deep South during the Jazz Age, or in literary journalism.

Literary journalism draws on studies in media, literature, sociology, communication, American history and culture, and journalism. It encompasses the study of those who left newspapers and wrote fiction, such as Willa Cather, Stephen Crane, Ernest Hemingway, Katherine Anne Porter, Upton Sinclair, and Eudora Welty; those known for writing creative nonfiction, such as Truman Capote, Sara Davidson, Joan Didion, Norman Mailer, Susan Orlean, Hunter S. Thompson, and Tom Wolfe; and those who write critically about the field, such as David Abrahamson, Thomas Connery, Shelley Fisher Fishkin, John Hartsock, John Pauly, Nancy Roberts, and Norman Sims.

With this collection of sixty-four columns written between 1922 and 1926 by Margaret Munnerlyn Mitchell, scholars can add another important name to the list of literary journalists. Although she is best known as the author of Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell was also a prolific writer of features, news stories, interviews, sketches, books reviews, and advice columns published in the Atlanta Journal Sunday Magazine.

Editor Patrick Allen reminds the reader that the author of the most popular novel in American literary history was also a devoted chronicler of life in the Jazz Age. Allen, a senior editor at Hill Street Press, also edited Before Scarlett: Girlhood Writings of Margaret Mitchell.

Allen organized Margaret Mitchell: Reporter thematically into eight chapters: "Mode and Manners" includes articles about social graces and appropriate behavior at formal events such as beauty pageants, weddings, and funerals; "The Debutante and the 'New Woman'" includes articles about "society girls," business women, and women voters; and "In and Out of Wedlock" includes articles about men, divorce, working women, marriage, and elopement.

Other chapters are "Personality Sketches," which includes interviews with a policewoman, novelist, woman treasurer, a 102-year-old grandmother, and an Atlanta physician; "Flappers and Sheiks"; "About Atlanta and Georgia," which includes articles about springtime, camp meetings, and Georgia generals; "Bunko Gangs and Rum Runners"; and "News of Books and Writers," which includes reviews of books by Aldous Huxley, William Faulkner, and others. …