Nema Etheridge for GlobalAtlanta
“Gone With the Wind,” which was first published 70 years ago on June 30, continues to captivate international audiences, drawing approximately 18,000 foreign visitors every year to one of the author’s homes in Atlanta, according to Ann Nettles, spokesperson for the Margaret Mitchell House and Museum on Peachtree Avenue.
Some 18,000 of the 45,000 visitors to the house in 2005 were foreign tourists, Ms. Nettles said.
Japanese and Germans represented the largest portion of international visitors, she said. But tourists from China, Great Britain, Italy, Korea, France and Spain, are often drawn to where Ms. Mitchell penned Scarlett O’Hara’s romance with Rhett Butler and their struggle to survive the American Civil War.
Ms. Nettles believes that the book’s themes of survival and civil war cross cultural barriers and have allowed the book and later the movie, which was released in 1939, to appeal to international audiences.
“It’s a story that resonates across the world,” Ms. Nettles said, noting that one Vietnamese visitor had said that he had been inspired by the book while reading it as a prisoner of war.
The book’s far-reaching international appeal has also helped to promote Atlanta abroad, according to Lauren Jarrell, director of communications at the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau, which attracts conventions and tourists to the city.
“It’s a tremendous marketing tool for us. It generates an interest in Georgia and southern hospitality that we like to own and embrace as a part of our identity,” Ms. Jarrell said, noting that the book’s many translations have allowed it to spread around the world.
Published on June 30, 1936, “Gone With the Wind,” has been translated into more than 40 languages, according to John Wiley, publisher and editor of Richmond, Va.-based “Scarlett Letter,” an 18 year-old quarterly newsletter that deals with “Gone With the Wind”-related news.
Mr. Wiley, who has collected some 600 foreign editions of the novel, told GlobalAtlanta that the first translated versions of “Gone With the Wind,” were published in Norway and Sweden in 1937.
He recently published an article about the book’s international history to coincide with the 70th anniversary of its first publication. It can be found in the “Southeastern Antiquing and Collecting Magazine”at http://www.go-star.com/antiquing/gone_with_the_wind.htm.
While the Margaret Mitchell house only has one foreign language speaker to welcome German-speaking tourists, it offers informational handouts in Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Russian, and Spanish.
The house first opened to the public in 1997 after Stuttgart, Germany-based DaimlerChrysler AG funded its renovations.
For more information on the Margaret Mitchell house, contact Ms. Nettles at (404) 814-2058 or visit www.gwtw.org.