Mammy’s own story in prequel to ‘Gone With the Wind’
Mammy, the faithful slave in “Gone With the Wind,” is getting her own book and a real name. “Ruth’s Journey,” a prequel to the best-selling novel, will be published in October.
The New York Times
Mammy, the faithful slave in “Gone With the Wind,” may finally get her due — and a proper name.
More than 75 years after the publication of the novel by Margaret Mitchell, a prequel with Mammy at its center is set for release in October, the publisher said Wednesday.
The completed book, “Ruth’s Journey,” is the fictional telling of the life of one of the novel’s central characters, a house servant called Mammy who otherwise remains nameless. The story begins in 1804, when Ruth is brought from her birthplace, the French colony of Saint-Domingue that is now known as Haiti, to Savannah, Ga.
The Mitchell estate has authorized the prequel, which was written by Donald McCaig, the author of one of two authorized “Gone With the Wind” sequels, “Rhett Butler’s People,” from 2007. (The other was “Scarlett” by Alexandra Ripley, released in 1991.) “Gone With the Wind” won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1937 and has sold hundreds of millions of copies.
Atria Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, acquired the rights to the new book.
The Mitchell estate also blessed the choice of McCaig, who is perhaps best known for “Jacob’s Ladder,” his award-winning Civil War novel published in 1998.
McCaig suggested a prequel that focused on the character he called Ruth, one of the most beloved figures in “Gone With the Wind”: sharp-tongued, loving, sensitive and deeply moral.
Mitchell was criticized for the one-dimensional nature of many African-American characters in the book, particularly Mammy, who cared for fiery Southern belle Scarlett O’Hara.
Peter Borland, Atria’s editorial director, said the new book addresses those criticisms head-on.
“What’s really remarkable about what Donald has done is that it’s a book that respects and honors its source material, but it also provides a necessary correction to what is one of the more troubling aspects of the book, which is how the black characters are portrayed,” Borland said.
In an email, McCaig, 73, who lives on a farm in Virginia, said that he was drawn to write about Ruth because there are “three major characters in ‘Gone With the Wind,’ but we only think about two of them,” Scarlett and Rhett.
“Ruth’s Journey” also fleshes out the story of Ellen Robillard O’Hara, the matriarch of the clan, who dies at the Tara plantation during the Civil War.