Gone With The Wind Book

2011–The 75th Anniversary of GWTW, the book, based in part on writings from the Mitchell family scrapbook, shown above.

Inscriptions In Books Can Tell A Story

Many collectors boast of having numerous copies of the 1936 “first edition” of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind. There are various degrees of being a first edition book. Though this writer has not considered herself a collector, she has amassed  a small group of “collectibles” given by people who wanted happy homes for some  things they had.

The first item was a  June 1936 “first edition” with the brown cover. (There is also a May “first edition” which is considered the most “valuable” but that is not the topic here today.) What makes this particular book most special is the inscription in the front. It has the name “Carolyn” written on the first page: the grandmother of the friend who gave it to me.


As I look at the rag-tag book, the spine is off–it’s not worth much to collectors—and the front cover hangs on for dear life, literally by a thread, I wonder what “Carolyn” was thinking when she read it for the first time in 1936.  Did she bring it to the soda shop and prop it up on the counter while drinking her Coca-Cola, as Ann Rutherford told me so many young women did when the book first came out. Did she dream that Scarlett and Rhett would get back together, or was she on “Team Ashley?”


Is the book in such bad shape because she read it over and over, soaking in every one of Margaret Mitchell’s luscious descriptions of her characters, the countryside, and the historical time it was set it? The book was passed down two generations.


It is known that “Carolyn’s”  granddaughter, named for the grandmother, read the book because as this writer started the journey of writing a book about Gone With The Wind, the twenty-first century Carolyn was full of knowledge of the story and one could tell there was an endearment to it in her heart. That book sat on the desk as “The Making Of a Masterpiece” was written.


Then came the second “first edition” (third printing) with this interesting inscription: “The errant cat, though long astray, comes back to home at last one day, Ah, may this book when lent befall , enough to make a homeward (call?)”


The last word is gone, a victim of wear and tear in 75 years of its life.


The books with “autographs” in them have been written about, but this writer wonders about books that wind up in someone else’s hands with notes written from the original giver to the receiver.  Do you have anything with an interesting inscription?  People don’t seem to write personal notes as much as they used to when they give books, but then it’s kind of difficult to write a note on a downloaded book, so times have definitely changed. Sometimes these little inscriptions tell part of a story.


The old-time romance of an old book can be so interesting. Look in the front of your old books and see if you can find a little piece of history in someone’s handwritten scribble. If you have collectors items with original notes on them, I would love to hear from you, either in the comments section here, the Facebook page, GWTWbook.com, or in my e-mail.


By Sally Tippett Rains, author of The Making Of A Masterpiece, The True Story of Margaret Mitchell’s Classic Novel, Gone With The Wind (www.GWTWbook.com)



4 comments on “Inscriptions In Books Can Tell A Story

  1. JD
    February 7, 2011

    I received a book featuring Ann Rutherford for Christmas this year, it’s inscribed “To Kathryn from your Parents who love you very much Christmas-1943” It was very neat to think that I was getting this same book for Christmas that “Kathryn” received for her Christmas nearly 70 years ago.

    • gwtwbook
      February 7, 2011

      This is what I’m talking about J.D. Maybe “Kathryn” is a grandma and she passed that book down to her daughter, who after she read it gave it away. It’s great she did pass it on, so you could get it. Maybe you will pass it on some day with a new inscription in it.

  2. Carole
    April 22, 2011

    I found a copy of Off With Their Heads with an inscription signed by the author, Frances Marion.

  3. Adrian Johnson
    October 25, 2017

    I was given a set of bookplates as a child and the incomplete verse you quote above was rendered on mine as,

    “The errant cat, though oft astray
    comes back to home at last one day.
    Ah, may this book when lent be feline
    enough to make a homeward bee-line.”

    This verse was set against a borderless, tinted background of an arch-topped cottage door open on a garden; a cat was just entering the door, facing the viewer with tail held aloft, rubbing against the doorway.

    I remember the satisfaction of feeding each bookplate into my mother’s typewriter so that I could type my name, and then see it in print inside my books.

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This entry was posted on February 3, 2011 by in Ann Rutherford, Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell, Rhett Butler, Scarlett O'Hara.


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