"THE MOTION PICTURE COMPANIES HAVE BEEN VICTIMIZED BY UNSCRUPULOUS PEOPLE FOR SO MANY YEARS THAT IN SELF-PROTECTION THEY MUST REFUSE TO READ OR PURCHASE UNSOLICITED AND UNPUBLISHED MANUSCRIPTS": FASCINATING ORIGINAL 1947 TYPED SIGNED LETTER FROM MARGARET MITCHELL TO AN ASPIRING AUTHOR EXPLAINING THE PROCESS OF SELLING FILM RIGHTS—INCLUDING THE ANOMALOUS CASE OF GONE WITH THE WIND—AND OFFERING A NEWSPAPER CLIPPING LISTING POTENTIAL LITERARY AGENTS
MITCHELL, Margaret. Typed letter signed. Atlanta, Georgia, July 23, 1947. Two sheets of unlined Margaret Mitchell letterhead, each measuring 7 by 11 inches; pp. 2, with original mailing envelope. $7800.
Original typed two-page letter, dated 1947, from Margaret Mitchell to Mrs. George W. Johnson of Mississippi's Johnson Printing Company, advising Mrs. Johnson on the process of selling film rights; explaining the necessity of selling a book prior to selling the rights; and enclosing a list of literary agents published in the Saturday Review of Literature, boldly signed by Mitchell.
This typed signed letter, dated "Atlanta 5, Georgia. July 23, 1947," was written from Margaret Mitchell to a Mississippi reader (and aspiring author) offering advice on book publication and selling film rights. Here, Mitchell explains the reasons for why publication traditionally precedes the selling of rights; offers insight into the unusual process between the selling of film rights for Gone With the Wind, and provides a newspaper clipping with several prospective agents.
The letter, typed on Margaret Mitchell's letterhead, reads in full: "Dear Mrs. Johnson: Thank you so much for writing me that you had derived pleasure from 'Gone With the Wind.' I appreciated what you said.
"I am glad to answer your inquiries about how the sale of 'Gone With the Wind' was made to the movies. I do not believe, however, that it will be of much assistance to you in your problem, as I have never met any writer who handled things the way I did.
"The Macmillan Company published my novel and, as I was receiving a number of offers for the screen rights, I asked The Macmillan Company to act as my agent and manage the sale of the motion picture rights for me. The Macmillan Company sold 'Gone With the Wind' to Mr. David Selznick, who produced the film from it. So, you see, as your material has not yet been published, you could not proceed in the same fashion I did.
"You asked, 'Does each studio send out purchasing agents?' I never heard of any studio sending out purchasing agents of any type. In fact, I am informed that the very opposite is true. I am told that the studios purchase no unpublished manuscripts or material, unless it is scenarios by writers employed in and by the studios for this exact purpose. If your material had been published as a short story, an article, a novel, a non-fiction book, a play, you would have better chances to sell it to the movies. The reason for this is that the motion picture companies have been victimized by unscrupulous people for so many years that in self-protection they must refuse to read or purchase unsolicited and unpublished manuscripts. These unscrupulous people have sent in manuscripts to the movies and afterwards brought suit against the producing film companies, claiming that films were based upon their unsolicited manuscripts.
"I do not know how to advise you, as I know less than nothing about literary agents. However, I am sending you a page from the Saturday Review of Literature, which, I notice, has some agents' advertisements. I do not recommend any of these people, for I know nothing about any of them. I cannot tell you how much they charge for reading fees or if they charge anything at all. I do not know whether they are helpful and honest people or racketeers who will keep asking you for more and more money. I am afraid I am not very helpful, certainly not as helpful as I would like to be, but the only thing I can do is tell you what little I know.
"With all good wishes for your success, Cordially, [signed] Margaret Mitchell Marsh (Mrs. John R. Marsh)."
With clipping mentioned in letter and typed and postmarked envelope.
Faintest toning to first page of letter. About-fine condition.