Gone with the Wind is a novel by American writer Margaret Mitchell, first published in 1936. The story is set in Clayton County and Atlanta, both in Georgia, during the American Civil War and Reconstruction Era. It depicts the struggles of young Scarlett O'Hara, the spoiled daughter of a well-to-do plantation owner, who must use every means at her disposal to claw her way out of poverty following Sherman's destructive "March to the Sea". This historical novel features a Bildungsroman or coming-of-age story, with the title taken from a poem written by Ernest Dowson. Gone with the Wind was popular with American readers from the outset and was the top American fiction bestseller in 1936 and 1937. As of 2014, a Harris poll found it to be the second favorite book of American readers, just behind the Bible. More than 30 million copies have been printed worldwide. Gone with the Wind is a controversial reference point for subsequent writers of the South, both black and white. Scholars at American universities refer to, interpret, and study it in their writings. The novel has been absorbed into American popular culture. Mitchell received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for the book in 1937. It was adapted into a 1939 American film. Gone with the Wind is the only novel by Mitchell published during her lifetime.
The author tentatively titled the novel Tomorrow is Another Day, from its last line. Other proposed titles included Bugles Sang True, Not in Our Stars, and Tote the Weary Load. The title Mitchell finally chose is from the first line of the third stanza of the poem "Non Sum Qualis Eram Bonae sub Regno Cynarae" by Ernest Dowson:
I have forgot much, Cynara! gone with the wind,
Flung roses, roses riotously with the throng,
Dancing, to put thy pale, lost lilies out of mind ...
Scarlett O'Hara uses the title phrase when she wonders to herself if her home on a plantation called "Tara" is still standing, or if it had "gone with the wind which had swept through Georgia." In a general sense, the title is a metaphor for the demise of a way of life in the South prior to the Civil War. When taken in the context of Dowson's poem about "Cynara," the phrase "gone with the wind" alludes to erotic loss. The poem expresses the regrets of someone who has lost his passionate feelings for his "old passion," Cynara. Dowson's Cynara, a name that comes from the Greek word for artichoke, represents a lost love.
Gone with the Wind takes place in the southern United States in the state of Georgia during the American Civil War (1861ñ1865) and the Reconstruction Era (1865ñ1877). The novel unfolds against the backdrop of rebellion seven southern states initially, including Georgia, have declared their secession from the United States (the "Union") and formed the Confederate States of America (the "Confederacy"), after Abraham Lincoln was elected president. The Union refuses to accept secession and no compromise is found as war approaches.