Sunday, August 7, 2011

The End

When we started this blog, we knew that it was a project with an end date in sight, even if we didn't know exactly when that day would come. That day has come now, a little over a year after our first post. After tomorrow, we will no longer be updating the blog or the Facebook page attached to it. Nothing will be deleted, naturally, but no new things will be added.

It was not a decision made easily, but we think it's time.  Given time, drive and other RL considerations, we feel that this project is, if not completed (can you ever run out of GWTW subjects?), at least well rounded and ready to be finished.

Blogging about Gone with the Wind has been one of the most gratifying things we ever did.  It much exceeded our expectations, however high those were when we started. We met a lot of great people, whom we would have never met otherwise, we were part of a very active, very dedicated community and we learned many things, both from researching stuff and from the discussions here and on Facebook. We thank you all for your contributions and support. You were really the best part of blogging and we will miss you!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Quotable Rhett Butler: All Great Neptune's Ocean and a Farewell

So this is it, folks, the last ever installment of the Quotable Rhett Butler series. It has been my favorite thing to write for the blog and I hope you enjoyed it just as much as I did. We say goodbye today with one of the most easily recognizable of Rhett's references, one that comes straight from Shakespeare:
"'Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood clean from my hand?'" 
Gone with the Wind, Chapter XLVII
This line occurs during the scene in Pittypat's library, before Rhett proposes. Scarlett is wrecked with guilt and admits that her actions made Frank's life miserable and indirectly caused his death. Rhett's reply, using a direct quote from Shakespeare, seems to juxtapose their situation (her breaking down and confessing to her sins; he being there to alleviate her fears) to a similar scene in Macbeth, the one immediately after Macbeth kills Duncan.  The words Rhett uses belong to Macbeth himself:
"Whence is that knocking?
How is't with me, when every noise appalls me?
What hands are here? ha! they pluck out mine eyes.
Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood
Clean from my hand?
No, this my hand will rather
The multitudinous seas incarnadine,
Making the green one red."
Macbeth, Act 2, Scene 2
There is one important difference between the two scenes though (besides Scarlett not being guilty of murder, of course). In Shakespeare's play, Macbeth is the one shaken by the enormity of his own deed, while Lady Macbeth tries to calm him down, basically by mocking his emotional state and hesitations. In Gone with the Wind, Scarlett  breaks down and Rhett offers the comforting. This reversal of roles is made more interesting by the fact that neither Lady Macbeth, nor Scarlett are conventional female characters. In fact, they share a fair number of characteristics that set them apart from women of their respective time periods.

To begin with, they are both more ambitious and determinate than their husbands. (This, at least, applies to Scarlett's first two husbands, though I suppose there is a case to be made for Scarlett also being emotionally stronger than Rhett, all things considered.)  Of course, Scarlett's ruthlessness is far less reaching than Lady Macbeth's and  justified by her evolution and experiences throughout the book, and her transgressions far less severe. But Lady Macbeth pushing her husband to commit murder still finds a softer echo in Scarlett bullying Frank into actions that don't agree with his worldview/code of honor (like forcing his friends to pay their debts). 

In both cases, the characters' real strength (comparable to that of any man) is opposed to the role society assigns to them as women. We know how Scarlett assuming traditionally masculine roles was seen by Atlanta. What is interesting to note though is that the words used to describe that episode parallel yet another extremely famous speech from Macbeth, the one where Lady Macbeth, afraid her husband won't be up to whatever it takes to attain their goals, begs "Come, you spirits/ That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, /And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full/ Of direst cruelty."

Here is Scarlett's behavior during her marriage with Frank, seen through the eyes of Frank and of Atlanta: 
"All of his life, Frank had been under the domination of the phrase 'What will the neighbors say?' and he was defenseless against the shocks of his wife's repeated disregard of the proprieties. He felt that everyone disapproved of Scarlett and was contemptuous of him for permitting her to 'unsex herself.' She did so many things a husband should not permit, according to his views, but if he ordered her to stop them, argued or even criticized, a storm broke on his head."
--Gone with the Wind, Chapter XXXVI
And here is Melanie, acknowledging that these words have been used to describe Scarlett:
"I don't mean you've ever been unwomanly or unsexed yourself, as lots of folks have said. Because you haven't. People just don't understand you and people can't bear for women to be smart."
--Gone with the Wind, Chapter LV
As someone pointed out in this excellent analysis, throughout the novel Scarlett fails to fit into traditionally feminine roles, while excelling at traditionally masculine ones. She's a bad daughter, nurse, wife, mother etc., but a great businesswoman and provider for her family. Moreover, she often pushes the men in her life to play the passive roles usually reserved for women. These actions are all regarded as evidence that she is unsexing herself, and thus sanctioned by society. 

So, if they are so similar in their defiance of gender roles, why is Scarlett moping around and waiting for Rhett to tell her everything is fine, while Lady Macbeth dismisses her husband's guilt and focuses on practical matters (such as how to frame others for the murder)?

At the core of Scarlett's character, there are a number of tensions between conflicting traits, such as her sentimental attachment to the Old South and her practical embracing of the New South, her desire to conform to traditional feminine roles and her (how shall I put it delicately?) utter lack of talent for them. As such, it is not surprising that there are a handful of scenes in the book where Scarlett is passive/weaker and in need of help, where she in other words reverts to the role of the woman.  And these moments are almost always connected with Rhett, who is constantly depicted as being hyper-masculine and the only one able to put Scarlett in her place, so to speak. 

The contrast between the two scenes above, the scene in Macbeth and the prelude to the proposal scene from Gone with the Wind, shows that we are dealing with exactly that sort of moment here. While Lady Macbeth, true to her character, was the one in control and able to steady her husband's nerves, here it is Scarlett that needs the comforting and Rhett who is able to provide it. It is no wonder then that this scene segues into the proposal, where Rhett continues his manly man strike by kissing Scarlett into submission.

Now, before I leave you, if you want to read a really cool, really interesting piece on the function Shakespeare quotes and allusions play throughout Gone with the Wind, check out this article: The Old and New South: Shakespeare in Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind by Darlene Ciraulo. It is completely worth your time, I promise, and it discusses at length the parallel between Scarlett and Lady Macbeth.

And now, goodbye and thanks for reading!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Rue de la Paix

Here's a little collage I made, featuring one of our favorite GWTW posters--Rhett and Scarlett embracing at Tara. Who doesn't love an alternate universe GWTW scenario from time to time? 

Rhett and Scarlett at Tara

Famous Fans of GWTW

As it turns out, being a fan of GWTW puts you in some pretty exclusive company. From stars of the silver screen to athletes to world leaders, the list of famous GWTW fans is a long one--not to mention a rather eclectic one. In honor of these celebrity Windies, we've created a new page, Famous Fans of GWTW, which you can find on the side bar.

The link to the new page is also below. Be sure to check it out and let us what you think. Also, if you're aware of any famous Windies who we've neglected to add, don't hesitate to let us know--and we'll get them added to the list.  

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Poster of the Week

Rhett and Scarlett go riding through Five Points in this week's poster (date unknown). Doesn't Scarlett looked thrilled to be spending time with her companion?

Image from

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Quotable Rhett Butler: That Weak Imitation of Napoleon

Having taken a look at the reasons England had for not weighing in on the side of the Confederacy, we'll now continue with the second half of Rhett's line and examine France's stance:
"And as for France, that weak imitation of Napoleon is far too busy establishing the French in Mexico to be bothered with us. In fact he welcomes this war, because it keeps us too busy to run his troops out of Mexico..." 
--Gone with the Wind, Chapter XIII
The "weak imitation of Napoleon" is of course Napoleon III, the nephew of The Napoleon (tm, because Bugsie likes him a great deal) and emperor of the Second French Empire. Now, weak imitation of his uncle or not, Napoleon III had plans for the world. All of the world, but some areas in particular. And it so happened that he had a most excellent plan with everything south of the United States, a plan known as the "Grand Scheme for the Americas." Don't let its name deceive you, the Grand Scheme was quite simple really. First step: France gains control of Central and South America and their resources. Second step: France rules the world. 

Napoleon saw an opening for his first step when Mexico (temporarily) ceased to pay its debts to its European creditors in 1861. France quickly made an alliance with the other wronged parties, Spain and England, launched an attack on Mexico, lost its allies on the way (they caught wind of step two and didn't like it one bit, basically),  but still managed to take control of the capital and install Maximilian of Hasburg at the head of a puppet state under French control. Most of this was accomplished because the United States had the courtesy to be otherwise engaged at the time, so yes, the French did welcome the American Civil War in this respect, as Rhett says. After the Civil War ended, the US troops and the Mexican resistance would in fact run them out of Mexico. 

But just because the Civil War suited his purposes quite fine, that doesn't mean Napoleon III didn't have a favorite in this race. He was on the side of the Confederacy, mainly because he thought the Southerners would tolerate his presence in Mexico more easily. He was quoted saying that if the North won, he would be glad, but if the South did, he would be thrilled. ("Si le Nord est victorieux, j'en serai heureux, mais si le Sud l'emporte, j'en serai enchant√©!")  But despite this, he wouldn't act unwisely (for a certain value of "wisdom," where "wisdom" = "what would England do"). And England would not act, for reasons we discussed last week. So France didn't either. And the rest is, as they say, history.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Poster of the Week

We're back with a new poster for your enjoyment. This stylized French poster features  Rhett and Scarlett embracing against a fiery so fiery, in fact, that Scarlett appears to be quite the redhead. 

Image from

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Fashionable Rogue, Part 3: Rhett's Honeymoon Wardrobe

Today we bring you the third and final installment of our Fashionable Rogue mini-series, which explores the historical sartorial styles behind Rhett Butler's Gone with the Wind wardrobe. For this last edition, we're featuring two styles donned by Rhett on his honeymoon: his red silk robe from the steamboat scene and his tuxedo from the dinner scene in New Orleans. 

Quite oddly, it turns out that Rhett wouldn't have had to look very far at all to find inspiration for his red robe and tuxedo--both of the fashion plates we uncovered feature these two items, randomly enough. Perhaps a red robe and a classic tuxedo were merely wardrobe staples for the debonaire Victorian man? Either way, had Rhett been uncertain about what to pack for his honeymoon, he'd only have to look as far as his latest men's journal to  help determine the appropriate selection of clothing.

Like always, you'll find the fashion plates after the jump. Check them out and let us know what you think! 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Rue de la Paix

Lights, camera, action! It's time to watch Gone with the Wind! That's the theme of this week's collage, at least.

Gone With the Wind - Scavenger 2:1

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Poster of the Week

Rhett and Scarlett stand out against lima-green backgrounds in this pair of hand-painted posters from 1939. 

 Images from

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Quotable Rhett Butler: The Fat Dutch Woman

After a long holiday, the Quotable Rhett Butler is back! We're also getting close to the end of this series, only two or three quotes left. So, this week and the next, we will have twin lines, pertaining to Britain's and France's involvement in the American Civil War (or, rather, lack thereof) and then it's time to say goodbye. But first, let's take a look at Britain and its queen:
"Why, Scarlett! You must have been reading a newspaper! I'm surprised at you. Don't do it again. It addles women's brains. For your information, I was in England, not a month ago, and I'll tell you this. England will never help the Confederacy. England never bets on the underdog. That's why she's England. Besides, the fat Dutch woman who is sitting on the throne is a God-fearing soul and she doesn't approve of slavery. Let the English mill workers starve because they can't get our cotton but never, never strike a blow for slavery."
--Gone with the Wind, Chapter XIII
By the time Rhett and Scarlett had this conversation, in the spring of 1863, the chances of England rising to help the Confederacy were indeed slim. But it hadn't always been like that. Indeed the Confederacy had all along relied on the hope that the European powers, France and England in particular, would recognize it as a legitimate state, separate of the Union, and come to its aid. And at some points early during the war (see the Trent Affair), it had seemed that it might indeed happen.

Arguments in favor of this outcome? Firstly, Europe (and especially England) was dependent on the cotton produced in the South. Secondly, Europe (and especially England) was not a great fan of successful extra-European states and in fact quite fancied the idea of a divided Union. And finally, the European aristocrats had a natural affinity with the refined Southern upper classes and an equally natural distaste for the more... democratic Northerners.

Arguments against this outcome? Firstly, the European states were a little busy with their own engagements (i.e. being passive-aggressive and occasionally aggressive-aggressive to each other at any given chance). Secondly, no self-respecting empire precisely enjoyed creating a precedent by supporting seceding rebels. Thirdly, if they were going to pick camps, the European states wanted to be absolutely sure they were siding with the winner.  Fourthly, Europe needed the South's cotton, but Europe also needed the North's cereals just as much, if not more. And, last but not least, there was the moral issue: neither France, nor England particularly wanted to be associated with chattel slavery at this point in the 19th century. 

During the first two years of war, when the odds were not so clearly in favor of the Union and the war was framed more in terms of States' Rights than abolition of slavery, England might have been persuaded to step in on the side of the Confederacy. By the spring of 1863, this was no longer an appealing political action. The Battle of Antietam in the autumn of 1862 had shown the Confederacy to be the underdog and Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation in January, 1863, had added a moral stake to the war. The Union had framed its actions as  a fight for human freedom, and no European government would want to be seen opposing such an endeavor.

It wasn't even, as Rhett suggests, that a minority at the top was opposed to slavery on moral or religious grounds. It was that, by this time in the 19th century, the public opinion was against it. While Queen Victoria* disapproved of slavery, in keeping with her desire to maintain a Christian kingdom, so did the British working classes, the same ones that were starving without the South's cotton. During the famous Lancashire Cotton Famine, the cotton workers in Manchester sent a letter that contained this passage to Lincoln:
"... the vast progress which you have made in the short space of twenty months fills us with hope that every stain on your freedom will shortly be removed, and that the erasure of that foul blot on civilisation and Christianity – chattel slavery – during your presidency, will cause the name of Abraham Lincoln to be honoured and revered by posterity."
--read more here
So, as you see, at this point in history a Confederate newspaper that still expressed hope for an English intervention was bound to addle anyone's brains... (Which we devotedly hope was Rhett's meaning with those first sentences there *cough*.)

*On a random note: Queen Victoria was of German origins, not Dutch. Her mother was the German-born Princess Victoria of Sexa-Coburg-Saalfeld. Americans used the word Dutch to refer to Germans, result of anglicizing the word "Deutsch."

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Fashionable Rogue, Part 2: Rhett's Bonnet Scene Suit

Today we're pleased to bring you the second installment of our new three-part mini-series, The Fashionable Rogue, which explores some of the possible historical inspirations behind Rhett Butler's wardrobe in Gone with the Wind. Last week, we looked at Rhett's white suit worn during the burning of Atlanta. This week we're bringing you an earlier sartorial selection by Captain Butler--the gray suit and black jacket combo he wore to tempt Scarlett with bonnets and bangles and lead her into a pit to present Scarlett with a very generous gift from the Rue de la Paix.

You'll find the fashion plate and corresponding GWTW screenshots for comparison after the jump. Check them out and let us know what you think! 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Rue de la Paix

This week's Rue de la Paix is devoted to Olivia DeHavilland, with two beautiful collages showcasing the gorgeous star. 

Beautiful Olivia

Beautiful Olivia

Friday, June 24, 2011

"As God is my witness..." - A Quote for Hard Times

Erin Blakemore, author of The Heroine's Bookshelf, is hosting a Margaret Mitchell Month over at her blog. We chimed in with the post linked below, check it out and be sure to take a peek at all the other entries too; they're great reading material! 
Thanks to Erin for organizing this great event!

Poster of the Week

Rhett and Scarlett share a moment of tenderness following Scarlett's nightmare in this Italian poster (date unknown).

Image from

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Fashionable Rogue, Part 1: A Rhett Butler Edition of Doppelganger Styles

It just isn't fair to let Scarlett have all the fun with the fashion plates. Rhett's bound to get jealous, being such a handsomely dressed man and all. So, in order to defuse Captain Butler's jealousy (always a scary thing), today we're pleased to unveil The Fashionable Rogue. This three-part mini-series will explore the historical styles behind some of our favorite scoundrel's costumes from Gone with the Wind--ala our earlier Doppelganger Dresses series, only this time it's all suits instead of silk dresses, of course. 

After the jump, you'll find our first lookalike style--Rhett's white suit and Panama hat combo worn the fateful night he piloted Scarlett out of Atlanta...and then abandoned her to join the army. Ah, rogues! They always seem to leave you when you need them most (and in this case, look impeccably dressed doing it.) Check out the fashion plate and let us know what you think! 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Rue de la Paix

In honor of Father's Day tomorrow, this week's collage features Rhett and his darling little girl Bonnie. Happy Father's Day to all our readers!

London Bridge

Thursday, June 16, 2011

All Things Military: Mr. Butler's West Point Education

We all know that, before embarking on his subsequent careers as rogue, gambler, blockade runner and - did I leave something out? - oh yes, Confederate soldier and devoted husband, Rhett Butler started out as a West Point cadet. And though he managed to get himself kicked out of the prestigious Academy (for drunkenness and "something involving women" nonetheless), we thought it would still be worthwhile to take a look at his time as a West Pointer. So here we are, ready and eager to explore what daily life would have been like for a 19th century cadet!

The Academy

By way of introduction, we'll start with a few words on the institution itself. The United States Military Academy was founded in 1802, but plans for such an establishment go back to the War of Independence, when the need for having a facility to train professional military officers first became obvious. The concept of a military academy, however, was seen as too elitist and too European by the newly-emancipated and always-democratic Americans.

Finally, after a few false starts, the Academy was formally established in 1802, as a national university with a focus on science and engineering. Its first years were a little uncertain, but after 1817, when Sylvanus Thayer became superintendent, the Academy, now consolidated and boasting of a reformed curriculum and stricter code of conduct, became the nation's leading civil engineering school.

View of West Point, United States Military Academy in the 19th century (1857)

Since it was designed to be an institution for all of America, the West Point Academy strove to maintain a mixed student body, with cadets ranging from aristocrats to farmers' son, and with at least one cadet from each of the congressional districts of the United States (the latter point having been established by law in 1843).  The entrance age varied a lot in the earlier years, with incoming cadets ranging from 14 to 20, to then center around the interval from 14 to 16.

Loosely speaking, Rhett could have attended the Academy somewhere between 1842 (when he was 14) and 1848 (when he was 20 and back in Charleston, raising trouble and getting thrown out by his father). He most probably attended it in the second half of this interval.

Getting In

The admission process to the Academy was not an easy one. First came the "bureaucratic" part. In order to be admitted to West Point, a young man had to be nominated by a member of the Congress. Enter anxious families writing letters and exerting their influence to secure the precious nomination. The level of exertion varied of course according to the family's social and economical situation. For a rich and well-connected family like Rhett's, this step wouldn't have posed any problems. Poorer families, on the contrary, went to great lengths to obtain nominations for their sons, all the more so since such an endorsement would not only give their offspring a rare chance to move up into the world, but it would also do so without considerable damage to the family's finances. A West Point education was free!

Once nominated, the young man aspiring to the honor of becoming a West Point cadet still had some hurdles to pass. Even though the admission requirements were kept to a minimum throughout the 19th century to ensure fair chances of getting in for those from a rural background, they still included basic knowledge of mathematics and passing a vision test that required candidates to tell whether a dime held up 14 paces away was showing head or tails. 

Studies, Exams and Daily Life

So, once in, what was our fictional cadet, Rhett Butler, supposed to learn at the Academy? The study program held two components considered complementary - and equally important - for a young man's education in the 19th century: military subjects and discipline, on one hand, and academic subjects, on the other.

When it came to the academic subjects, the first two years focused almost entirely on mathematics in the mornings and French in the afternoon. (The emphasis on French can be partly explained by the fact that the French were thought to have the leading textbooks in mathematics, engineering and military sciences.  The cadets needed to know French in order to be able to read their manuals.) After that, engineering and related subjects (mineralogy, geology) formed the core of the curriculum, along with drawing, that was an essential skill for both engineers and soldiers (think of the importance of drawing maps in battles).

You can see the daily schedule of the West Point cadets including all the classes they took in the table below. This schedule applied to all days with the exception of Sundays. Keep in mind the fact that the First Class is the final year, the class about to graduate, while the Fourth Class is the first year, the class of the junior cadets.

Employment of Time During the Day, at the United States Military Academy. The Regulations of the United
States Military Academy, 1839.
As you can glimpse from the above, the course of study was rather strict and demanding, accounting for a typically high degree of failure (sometimes even up to half of the class!) during the first two years. After the first two years, most people tended to fail because of scandals involving women and drinking. Cadets had no control over their schedule and little free time, with basically every minute from reveille to lights out mapped out for them.

But if you thought their life was surely uncomfortable enough... enter the examinations. At West Point, cadets were graded in every subject every day! The daily examinations (or "recitations") were conducted by a teacher and several instructors, who could be either recent graduates or gifted students from the senior years. According to their daily grades, the cadets were placed into sections suitable to their abilities (the first section having the top students, the next one the mediocre ones and so forth). Each section worked at a different pace and sometimes even after different textbooks. These sections were re-evaluated on a weekly or monthly basis. On top of the daily examinations, cadets were supposed to pass general exams in June and December.

You can see probably see now how West Point life would have put quite a strain on your average cadet. And what's a young man to do, faced with all these restrictions and the stress of perpetual examinations? Why, misbehave, of course!

Misdemeanors and Demerits

Cadets were not only ranked according to their grades, but also according to their conduct.  The slightest misdemeanor, from not folding one's bedding to sitting down on post, could earn one up to ten demerits. 200 of these black marks meant expulsion from the Academy. (Now, if sitting down on post earns one 8 demerits, anyone cares to place bets on how much "something involving women" was worth?) 

The demerits of the cadets from all the years (classes) were written down in a conduct roll, which was public information. And of course, the individual sheets of demerits were kept, since they affected the student's ranking. We know, for example, that Robert E. Lee managed to finish West Point with no demerits at all.

So that was our insight into life at West Point. And we have to say, after reading all this, we can sort of see how and why a rebellious young man like Rhett would manage to get expelled from the Academy, can't you?

Poster of the Week

This beautifully illustrated advertisement hails from 1940 and juxtaposes Rhett carrying Scarlett up the stairs against the duo's earlier escape out of Atlanta. In fact, one could say that here Rhett is merely attempting to save Scarlett from two of her greatest threats: Yankees and her fixation on Ashley Wilkes.

Image from

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Gone with the Wind: In Word Clouds

Here's a silly little something that we put together and thought you might enjoy: Gone with the Wind as depicted in word clouds. We've broken the novel down in five charts, each one corresponding to five formal parts of MM's novel and representing the most frequently used words in that section of the book. Check it out: 

Part One 
(Beginning of novel through Scarlett's move to Atlanta)

Part Two
(The early Atlanta war years through spring 1864)

Part Three
(The Atlanta campaign and siege through Ashley's return to Tara)

Part Four 
(The Kennedy era through Scarlett's wedding to Rhett)

Part Five 
(Rhett and Scarlett's honeymoon through the end of the book)

So what do you think? To me at least, it's both very cool and sad to the the progression away from "Scarlett, Scarlett, Scarlett, Scarlett" as the most prominent words in the first four parts, to "Scarlett" and "Rhett" as words of equal prominence in the last part. A visual reminder that our heroine did eventually catch on, but much too late...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Holliday-Dorsey-Fife House: The Inspiration for Fayetteville Female Academy

Last week we looked at what life might have been like for Scarlett at the fictional Fayetteville Female Academy, and now we're pleased to explore the real life inspiration behind Miss O'Hara's school. As many of you may already know, Margaret Mitchell based her heroine's alma mater on the real Fayetteville Academy. Located in the Georgia town of the same name, Fayetteville Academy was actually a coed institution, one that was attended by Mitchell's grandmother, Annie Fitzgerald. The Academy was housed in antebellum mansion, which today is known as the Holliday-Dorsey-Fife House Museum. (If the Holliday name sounds familiar to you, you aren't imagining things--the house was built in 1855 by John Stiles Holliday, uncle to the infamous "Doc" Holliday, whose connection to GWTW you can find here.)

To get the inside story on Fayetteville Academy, we reached out to John Lynch, City Historian for Fayetteville, Georgia and curator of the Holliday-Dorsey-Fife House Museum, who was kind enough to email us about the Academy's history and its relationship to MM, which we've excerpted for you:
"The academy was built and organized around the mid 1850's and was very popular with the surrounding planters and well-to-do people (which were not the majority).  They sent their children here due in part because of the reputation of the founding professors - George C., Morgan, and M.V. Looney (brothers). There really was no female academy although one was proposed in the 1840's and never came to be.  So the 1850's academy was coed.  Dr. John Stiles Holliday was one of the founding trustees of the academy and after building his home (present HDF Museum), he allowed some students and faculty to board in the house. One of the boarders was (at times) Miss Annie Fitzgerald (the grandmother of Margaret Mitchell).  To say the least the academy was the premier place in the county for educating young people.  Most of the other schools were one-room affairs that belonged to planters or wealthy farmers who built them for the use of their own children and surrounding neighbors' children.  We do have some information on a few of these.  Fayette County was not a very wealthy county as counties go in those days, although there were a few families of moderate wealth.  Most of the time these families tended to marry into each other...
"I should say that as far as local legends go there are numerous stories about M.M. and the people that lived around here.  Every family seems to have a story or connection to M.M. I would gather to say that about 90% of them or erroneous or greatly exaggerated.  However, Margaret Mitchell was very fond of Fayetteville and spent a lot of time here while helping the local woman's club in organizing the library. One of those ladies was Mrs. R.E.L. Fife (last owners of the HDF House).  She and her husband entertained M.M. at the home in 1937 at which time the young M.M. said the house "would make a good shot in the new movie GWTW.""
 --John Lynch, City of Fayetteville Historian and Curator of the Holliday-Dorsey-Fife House 

We agree with MM that the Holliday-Dorsey-Fife House would have made a good shot in GWTW. In fact, we blinked a few times upon seeing it ourselves, as it does remind us somewhat of Tara in the movie. Isn't it interesting to see how real life compares against reel life?

    The Holliday-Dorsey-Fife House. Image from                   Tara from Gone with the Wind. Image from


Rue de la Paix

This week, we've got "His & Hers" collages, one featuring the dashing Clark Gable and the other the enchanting Vivien Leigh. How glamorous they were! 

6. Clark Gable

12. Vivien Leigh

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Of Grandeur and Gifts: A Small Glimpse into Victorian Birthdays

Recently I stumbled across a cute little tibdit on Victorian birthdays and gift giving that made me smile--and naturally think of Gone with the Wind, of course:

"Birthdays were celebrated in grandeur and gifts between the family members became integral to the Victorian Christmas. The wealthy looked upon fatherhood largely to lavish gifts and paying of sons debts, while in the middle-class, gift-giving was looked upon one's financial capabilities. Unfortunately, the mother very often could not compete in the area of gift-giving, thus the act of gift-giving become symbolic as to the exclusive duty of the father providing for his children."

The quote above refers to Victorian England, but I couldn't help but think it had a nice parallel to Rhett and his approach to spoiling Bonnie rotten fatherhood. It's not hard to imagine Rhett going completely overboard in buying Bonnie birthday presents--and being rather generous to Wade and Ella too, for that matter. 

In fact, I often wish Gone with the Wind provided us more glimpses into how birthdays were spent in the Butler household. It would have be fascinating to see how Scarlett and Rhett celebrated each others' birthdays, for instance, both before and after their estrangement--or if they even knew each others' actual birthdays at all, given their mutual hesistancy to share personal details and Scarlett's secrecy over her exact age. I'd also love to see just how lavishly they celebrated the children's birthdays and what kind of gifts they bestowed. But, alas, we have so little to go on, beyond the few tantalizing details MM mentions about the day of Bonnie's birth.

So I'd like to turn it over to you all and get your thoughts. How do you think Rhett and Scarlett and family celebrated their birthdays? Or any other characters in GWTW for that matter?

Poster of the Week

Any guesses as to what state this Gone with the Wind poster is from? That's right, Hoosiers, you've got your very own piece of GWTW memorabilia! The other 49 states are now officially jealous of you.

Image from

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Puzzle of the Puffed Sleeves: What Scarlett's Wedding Dress Should Have Looked Like

"In the midst of this turmoil, preparations went forward for Scarlett's wedding and, almost before she knew it, she was clad in Ellen's wedding dress and veil, coming down the wide stairs of Tara on her father's arm, to face a house packed full with guests."
--Gone with the Wind, Chapter VII

Back when the Doppelganger Dresses series in full swing, one dress I definitely hoped to feature was Ellen's and subsequently Scarlett's wedding dress. So I plugged the numbers to refresh my memory as to what year Ellen married Gerald O'Hara. (Ellen is 32 at the start of GWTW in 1861, meaning her wedding at age 15 was in 1844.) With the date in hand, I went off to search for fashion plates.....and found nothing that even remotely resembled the massive-sleeved creation that Walter Plunkett made for Scarlett's wedding to Charles Hamilton (shown right). 

That was very puzzling to me--that the 1840s dress silhouette appeared to bear no resemblance at all to the bridal style shown in the movie. But dozens and dozens of fashion plates later, I couldn't avoid that fact. Big sleeves were distinctly out in the 1840s. Dresses featured tight sleeves, perhaps with a few delicate puffs for decoration, but that was about the extent of it. 

To help you visualize what I mean, here's a good example of day and evening styles from an 1844 fashion plate:

Dress Styles from May 1844. Ladies' Companion.

So, what did Plunkett use as the inspiration for Ellen/Scarlett's wedding dress, since it definitely wasn't 1840s fashion? Not being able to figure out the answer to that question, I gave up my search and moved on to look for other doppelganger styles. But this mystery continued to bother me from time to time--until something recently jogged my memory. 

It's true that 1840s dresses eschewed giant sleeves, but this wasn't the case a decade earlier. In the early 1830s, enormous gigot sleeves were all the rage--much like the ones we see on Scarlett's wedding dress. A quick search of 1830s wedding dresses turns up styles much more akin to the dress in GWTW than anything from the 1840s: 

                   Wedding Dress, June 1834. La Mode.                                           Wedding Dress, June 1835. La Mode.

So there's our answer. It looks like Walter Plunkett based his design for Scarlett's wedding dress on 1830s bridal styles, not 1840s. But why? This intriguing note on the Harry Ransom Center's Gone with the Wind costume collection offers one clue

"Since Scarlett rushed into the marriage with Charles Hamilton, she would have had to use her mother's wedding dress. So Plunkett fitted the dress on Barbara O'Neil's (Ellen O'Hara) dress form. Consequently, the dress was a little too long and had large sleeves which was the fashion in 1834 when Ellen would have been married." (Emphasis mine)

So did Plunkett simply get his dates wrong and put together an 1830s gown instead of an 1840s one? It seems so. It's also possible that he was just uninspired by 1840s fashion and instead found a historical model more to his liking a decade earlier. Either way, it begs the question: what should Ellen/Scarlett's wedding dress have looked like, if done in actual 1840s style? 

You'll find the answer after the jump, where I've put together a gallery of bridal gowns, all from the year of Ellen's marriage in 1844. Would you rather have seen Scarlett wear a dress like one of these in the movie? Or do you prefer Plunkett's vision? 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Poster of the Week

This week, we're pleased to add Norway to our GWTW league of nations, with this charming poster circa the 1950s-60s. 

Image and poster information from

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The School Days of Scarlett O'Hara

"Stuart and Brent considered their latest expulsion a fine joke, and Scarlett, who had not willingly opened a book since leaving the Fayetteville Female Academy the year before, thought it just as amusing as they did."
--Gone with the Wind, Chapter I

"Despite a succession of governesses and two years at the near-by Fayetteville Female Academy, her education was sketchy, but no girl in the County danced more gracefully than she..."
--Gone with the Wind, Chapter III

Quite a while ago now, we explored the education of Ellen Robillard--and now at long last we're pleased to bring you a look at the education of Ellen's own daughter, our heroine Scarlett O'Hara. Like Ellen before her, we know that Scarlett's education culminates at 15, with her graduation from Fayetteville Female Academy. (Fifteen was the typical age that women finished secondary education in the antebellum South.) And Scarlett's education at Fayetteville Female Academy would likely have been very similar to Ellen's own in terms subject matter--reading, writing, mathematics, French, music, dancing and deportment, needlework, etc. 

So knowing this all up front, what is there new to explore here? Well, plenty. You see, we're able to glean a great deal of information about Scarlett's schooling simply from Margaret Mitchell's indication that she attended a female academy, in this case the fictitious Fayetteville Female Academy. So today we're taking an in-depth look at what life would have been like at girls' academies similar to Scarlett's own alma mater, from the dress code t0 the day-to-day schedule to the social outings. 

Like the last post on Ellen's education, my research for this post comes from an amazing book called The Education of the Southern Belle: Higher Education and Student Socialization in the Antebellum South by Christine Anne Farnham. I highly recommend it to anyone who has any interest about women's education or life in general during the antebellum South. It's a fascinating read. Alright, now it's time to get started!

The Basics

The School Year Schedule - Although there was broad variety in school schedules across the South, the school year was normally divided into two terms. Most schools held class from February to mid-July and again from late August through mid-January.  

The Dress Code - Unfortunately for Scarlett and her fellow antebellum fashionistas, most schools enforced strict dress codes. Uniforms were chosen for their simplicity. If the Fayetteville Female Academy's dress code was similar to that of St. Mary's School in Raleigh, North Carolina, for instance, Scarlett would have been expected to don "dark blue for winter and pale blue or white with blue ribbons for summer, worn with a Quaker bonnet of brown straw linked with silk and a banded with a broad blue ribbon that tied under the chin." On the forbidden list? Jewelry, silk fabric, and expensive embroidery or lace. So what would the school day have been like for Scarlett, all dressed up in her plain uniform? Let's find out...

The Daily Schedule

Morning Chapel Services - For most students, male and female, the school day started at sunrise. Religious education was considered of supreme importance, especially in the evangelical South. So it's no surprise that each weekday began with chapel services.  

Breakfast-  Following chapel, breakfast was served. Unfortunately for Scarlett O'Hara and her ravenous appetite, breakfast was often a modest meal, consisting of such fare as coffee and rolls or milk and bread and butter. 

Morning and Early Afternoon Classes - Mornings and early afternoons were reserved for classes, which normally ran 45 minute intervals each. Students rotated serving as "monitresses" who rang bells to signal the start and end of classes. 

Afternoon Walk - Believe it or not, walking excursions were a key component of a young belle's school day. Walks frequently lasted up to two hours of the day and took place either after breakfast or in the late afternoon. So what was the fascination with walking? Walks served several important functions. First, they were one of the very few forms of physical exercise deemed appropriately ladylike for young girls. Secondly, walks were seen as a way to reinforce a feminine appreciation for nature and the study of botany (this was the heyday of the language of flowers and picking bouquets was an encouraged pastime). Moreover, walks served as opportunities for socialization. 

Some schools allowed girls to partner off with friends on walks. But the majority made students parade into town in rows of two, which had the benefit of  attracting the attention of local young men (and potential suitors). So if the Fayetteville Female Academy's walking schedule consisted of the latter variety, Scarlett may have enjoyed it. Otherwise, probably not so much, given that girl bonding was not one of Miss O'Hara's preferred activities.

Dinner - So after all that walking and flower picking, not to mention classwork, Scarlett and her schoolmates would likely be in need of a break. Fortunately, the main meal of the day, dinner, was served in the afternoon (often around 3pm). A common menu would include meat, vegetables, and cornbread, with water to drink, followed by dessert of fresh fruit or pie.  

Free Time, Late Afternoon - When classes weren't in session and there wasn't any walking to be done, students were allotted free time, which was normally spent studying, sewing, visiting friends, writing letters, or practicing musical instruments. (Extra credit to those students who properly guess which activity did not occupy Scarlett's free time!)

Supper - With the day winding down, it was then time for a light supper, which normally consisted of dinner leftovers, along with milk, pie, pancakes, cornmeal mush, and chocolate.

Evening Chapel Services - The school day ended as it began--with chapel services. That just leaves our belles to retire for the evening and start all over again the next day. But, fear not, school wasn't all work and no play for Scarlett and company, as we'll explore in our final section.

Social Events and Other Excursions

Friday Evening Receptions - The main purpose of a young lady's education was, of course, to provide her with the tools needed to fulfill her true calling--marriage. With this in mind, some schools made sure to leave nothing to chance when honing their pupils' all-too-crucial social skills. They held Friday night receptions where students were required to receive guests (often local townsfolk) in the school parlor. During these receptions, young ladies were expected to demonstrate impeccable manners and lead conversations with strangers. 

It was thought that such occasions would allow young ladies to display their much-prized modesty and simplicity, the culminating traits of Southern ladyhood. Yet, regrettably for teachers, many students opted to use these opportunities to further advance their education as belles, employing a more vivacious candor that could be later refined and put to use in attracting beaux. Clearly, we know how Scarlett would have acted in this scenario.

Social Outings Galore - Last but most certainly not least, we come to social outings! For although the schoolday routine was rather regimented, there were still plenty of opportunities for fun at girls' academies. With the Southern zeal for entertaining and camaraderie, most schools offered a wide variety of social events to keep students happily occupied. Here's just a small rundown of some of the outings offered at various girls' academies: dinner parties followed by dancing, lantern slide shows, Fourth of July picnics, fancy dress balls, strawberry parties, day trips, and sleigh rides (if it snowed, of course). Margaret Mitchell says that "scarcely a week went by without its barbecue or ball" in the County, so Fayetteville Female Academy likely joined in the revelry and boasted a full social calendar too. One unfortunate downside? Most school functions were strictly off limits to the opposite sex. Poor Scarlett!

So that ends our look at the world of girls' academies in the antebellum South. But be sure to stay tuned for next week, when we'll take a look at the real-life inspiration for Fayetteville Female Academy: Fayetteville Academy. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Poster of the Week

This week's poster features a different take on the iconic bonnet scene. All we can say is that we are happy they went for the other bonnet...

Image from
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