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(LEIGH, Vivien.) MITCHELL, Margaret.

Gone with the Wind.

Availability: In stock

Published: New York Macmillan Company, 1937

Stock Code: 115333

£12,500
signed
OR On display in 43 Dover Street

Notes

Presentation copy from Vivien Leigh, inscribed on the front pastedown: "Anthony Ireland, from Vivien Leigh. (Because we must.) February 5th 1937", an extraordinarily prophetic presentation copy, signalling Leigh's determination to win the role that would launch her international stardom. This is the fifth printing, published January 1937 (first published September 1936). Leigh discovered the novel over the Christmas 1936 holiday during her recuperation from a skiing accident. She continued to read it while rehearsing Because We Must, her first lead role in a West End play (Edwards, p. 73). "Her enthusiasm for Gone with the Wind grew everyday as she voraciously read through the 1,000 pages" (Capua, p. 36). This is one of a handful of copies long rumoured to have been inscribed by Leigh to her fellow cast members on the opening night of one of her earliest West End appearances. Although successive biographers have referred to them, no copy before this has emerged to prove the story true. We can trace no other such copy, either in libraries or in commerce. Only a single dead-end reference on the Internet, placing one with a Boston dealer sometime in the distant past, offered any evidence of them outside of the pages of the biographies. The recipient of this copy, Anthony Ireland, was hastily cast in the part of Hugh Greatorex, "commandeered from rehearsals of As You Like It", the day before the opening night, as a last-minute replacement for the actor Anthony Bruce, who had been taken ill with appendicitis (Var ie t y, 7 February 1937, p. 4). The play was short-lived, running 520 February, and "Vivien's role was the only dimensional and theatrical one in the play. Need overbalanced judgment, for it is doubtful that she would have accepted the part in view of her lack of belief in the play's merits if she thought there was another choice" (Edwards, p. 73). By now Leigh had decided that she was perfect for the role of Scarlett O'Hara in Selznick's planned film version of the novel. Just two nights before she inscribed this copy, producer David Selznick noted in a cable to his New York production executive, "I have no enthusiasm for Vivien Leigh" (Spicer, p. 166). Her agent John Gliddon relayed the bad news, but Leigh nevertheless remained utterly convinced that the role would be hers. Caroline Lejeune, film critic of the Observer, vividly recalled a conversation in mid-1937 about the casting of Gone with the Wind, in which it was suggested that Olivier could play Rhett Butler Leigh drew herself up, and foretold: "Larry won't play Rhett Butler, but I shall play Scarlett O'Hara. Wait and see" (Spicer, p. 166).
On 10 December 1938 Leigh walked onto the set the night the burning of Atlanta scene was filmed, and she finally met David Selznick. On 13 January 1939 after a two-and-a-half year worldwide search for his Scarlett O'Hara, and less than two weeks before shooting with the major actors began Selznick announced to the press that the role was hers. It is interesting that her handwriting here is very neat and controlled. It is a significant contrast to her later handwriting, which, though still legible, became much more scrawling. Fortunately her handwriting at this early date can be confirmed by comparison with her contemporary appointment diaries, now held in the V&A.

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Description

Octavo. Original green cloth, title to spine red. Housed in a custom black flat-backed cloth box.

Condition

Spine rolled and darkened, minor wear to spine ends, covers rubbed, rear hinge cracked (not affecting endpapers but gauze visible at gutter of final page of text), internally clean. A very good copy.

Delivery

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