4 Prequels and Sequels to Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Gone with the wind by Margaret Mitchell paperback edition

If you’ve read Margaret Mitchell’s 1,000-plus page magnum opus multiple times but can’t enough of it, consider exploring these prequels and sequels to Gone With the Wind. They expand on the stories of the complicated characters who have gripped the imagination for decades, ever since the book was first published in 1936.

GWTW had already been made a selection of Book of the Month Club, when it burst on the scene and advance sales were remarkable for a first novel by such an unknown author, particularly for a book of this length.

The U.S. was still gripped by the Great Depression, and the public evidently needed some diversion. It’s hard to argue that the book was an instant publishing phenomenon.

The public embraced the book even though reviews were mixed. Some critics praised the novel as a masterpiece, some proclaiming it as the American War and Peace in its depiction of human events against the backdrop of a national cataclysm.

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Gone with the Wind poster 1939

Gone With the Wind (1939 film)
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Other reviews were quite critical. Ralph Thompson wrote in the New York Times review of the book that he thought it was 500 pages too long and found the plot “unconvincing and rather absurd.”

The public made up its own mind. One million copies sold the first year alone, and continued to sell in great numbers for decades to come. No wonder that some novelists were intrigued enough to keep the story going, or to imagine backstories.

All this being said, if you explore the following books on Amazon and Goodreads, you’ll find that readers have had mixed reactions. In this case, it may be wise to look for these in your library before making an investment.

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Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley (2007)

Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley
More about Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley

This authorized sequel brings readers back to Tara and picks up the story where the original left off. The reader will once again encounter  Scarlett, Rhett, Ashley, Suellen, Mammy, and other original characters.

Will Scarlett and Rhett be able to resume their passionate yet stormy marriage and love affair? Will Scarlett be able to reconcile her complicated feelings for Ashley?

No matter how you feel about how Ripley portrays the post-Civil War South and the original  cast of characters, GWTW fans can get another dose of Scarlett’s world. As one review described it, “Rich with surprises at every turn and new emotional, breathtaking adventures, Scarlett satisfies our longing to reenter the world of Gone With the Wind.” Many readers and critics disagreed.

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The Wind Done Gone by Alice Randall (2002)

The Wind Done Gone by Alice Randall

Though this provocative book was presented as a parody (an unauthorized one, to be clear), the Mitchell estate was at first granted an injunction to block its publication. The trust that owns copyright on Gone with the Wind sued to block publication and accused Randall of “wholesale theft of major characters.”

The publisher appealed, and apparently, the First Amendment prevailed. Readers were super mixed about this one! A review in the San Antonio Express-News encapsulates why the book was opposed by the Mitchell estate:

“Alice Randall explodes the world created in GWTW, a work that more than any other has defined our image of the antebellum South.

Taking sharp aim at the romanticized, whitewashed mythology perpetrated by this southern classic, Randall has ingeniously conceived a multilayered, emotionally complex tale of her own— that of Cynara, the mulatto half-sister, who, beautiful and brown and born into slavery, manages to break away from the damaging world of the Old South to emerge into full life as a daughter, a lover, a mother, a victor.”

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Ruth’s Journey by Donald McCaig (2015)

Ruth's Journeh by Donald McCaig

In Donald McCaig’s vision, subtitled A Novel of Mammy from Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind, Mammy is reimagined as Ruth. His portrayal of her character is deeper and more nuanced that both in the book and the faithful 1939 film.

In this prequel, Ruth is as strong-willed as she is in her portrayal in Gone With the Wind, but the author imagines how she gets to be where she ends up — with the O’Hara family, first with Scarlett’s mother Ellen, and then as a servant — really a slave — to Scarlett herself. 

This story spans from the 1820s until the start of the Civil War. The publisher presents it as “a remarkable story of fortitude, heartbreak, and indomitable will—and a tale that will forever illuminate your reading of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind.”

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Rhett Butler’s People (2014)

Rhett Butler's People by Donald McCaig

Another GWTW-themed novel by Donald McCaig who reimagines the life of Ruth, AKA Mammy, this one is subtitled “The Authorized Novel based on Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind.”

This time it expands on the life of Rhett Butler. The reader gets his backstory and meets the family from which he came.

His best friend is an emancipated slave, and we even encounter more of Belle Watling — the “lady of the night” with a heart of gold that Scarlett was so wary of. The story overlaps with the original novel in that the reader encounters Scarlett and we delve into their complex relationship of two people more alike than they care to admit, and whose pride sometimes gets in the way of their love.

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