Category Archives: Margaret Mitchell

Top 100 Books proves that Jane Austen is the Teacher’s Pet

CLASS lets get reading…

TES (Think, Educate, Share) a website dedicated to bringing the latest teaching news and strategies to educators and the public asked 500 primary and secondary teachers what their top 10 books were. They crunched the numbers and came up with the following list of 100 top books.

It is an interesting list and it ranges nicely from early-ish chapter books — the kind that got us all hooked on reading in the first place, like Dahl and Lewis — to more mature novels like Atonement.

I was glad to see that my girl Jane made the grade (#1, 32, 52, 58). And you’ll recognize lots of other Thought of the Day authors on here too (I put them in italics — if you  are interested in reading the bioBlogs go to the search box to the right and type in their name.)

1. Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen

Jane Austen, Watercolour and pencil portrait b...

Jane Austen, Watercolour and pencil portrait by her sister Cassandra, 1810 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2. To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee

3. Harry Potter (series) J.K. Rowling

4. Wuthering Heights Emily Bronte

5. Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte

6. Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell

7. The Lord of the Rings (series) J.R.R. Tolkien

[Image courtesy Biography online

[Image courtesy Biography online

8. The Book Thief Markus Zusak9. The Hobbit J.R.R. Tolkien10. The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald11. The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini12. The Hunger Games (series) Suzanne Collins13. The Time Traveller’s Wife Audrey Niffenegger

14. The Chronicles of Narnia (series) C.S. Lewis

15. Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck

16. Birdsong Sebastian Faulks

17. His Dark Materials (series) Philip Pullman

18. The Gruffalo Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

19. The Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger

20. Life of Pi Yann Martel

21. Tess of the d’Urbervilles Thomas Hardy

22. Rebecca Daphne du Maurier

23. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Mark Haddon

24. Lord of the Flies William Golding

25. Matilda Roald Dahl

My Roald Dahl collage featuring some of his most popular characters (as drawn by the amazing Quentin Blake).  Surrounding Mr. Dahl and his pups are: at the top left are: The BFG, Sophie, Dahl with his pups, The Enormous Crocodile, Mr. Fox, James, the Grand High Witch, Willy Wonka, and Matilda.

My Roald Dahl collage featuring some of his most popular characters (as drawn by the amazing Quentin Blake).


26. Catch-22 Joseph Heller

27. Millennium (series) Stieg Larsson

28. Animal Farm George Orwell

29. The Handmaid’s Tale Margaret Atwood

30. Persuasion Jane Austen

31. One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez

32. Kensuke’s Kingdom Michael Morpurgo

33. Goodnight Mister Tom Michelle Magorian

34. The Grapes of Wrath John Steinbeck

35. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Roald Dahl

36. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas John Boyne

37. Little Women Louisa May Alcott

English: Bust of Louisa May Alcott

English: Bust of Louisa May Alcott (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

38. One Day David Nicholls

39. We Need to Talk About Kevin Lionel Shriver

40. The Twits Roald Dahl

41. Wolf Hall Hilary Mantel

42. A Thousand Splendid Suns Khaled Hosseini

43. The Wind in the Willows Kenneth Grahame

44. Frankenstein Mary Shelley

45. Great Expectations Charles Dickens

46. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin Louis de Bernieres

47. George’s Marvellous Medicine Roald Dahl

48. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Douglas Adams

douglas adams inspired "Hitch hikers guid...

douglas adams inspired “Hitch hikers guide to the galaxy” H2G2 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

49. Room Emma Donoghue

50. Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy

51. Atonement Ian McEwan

52. Emma Jane Austen

53. Middlemarch George Eliot

54. The Shadow of the Wind Carlos Ruiz Zafon

55. The Color Purple Alice Walker

56. The Very Hungry Caterpillar Eric Carle

57. Brave New World Aldous Huxley

58. Sense and Sensibility Jane Austen

59. The Bell Jar Sylvia Plath

60. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Lewis Carroll

61. Charlotte’s Web E.B. White

62. Dracula Bram Stoker

63. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury

64. A Prayer for Owen Meany John Irving

65. The Secret History Donna Tartt

66. The Little Prince Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Scanned drawing.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Scanned drawing. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

67. Crime and Punishment Fyodor Dostoevsky

68. The Poisonwood Bible Barbara Kingsolver

69. Jude the Obscure Thomas Hardy

70. Skellig David Almond

71. The Woman in White Wilkie Collins

72. Gone with the Wind Margaret Mitchell

73. Game of Thrones (series) George R.R. Martin

74. David Copperfield Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens, a former resident of Lant Street.

Charles Dickens, a former resident of Lant Street. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

75. Never Let Me Go Kazuo Ishiguro

76. Where the Wild Things Are Maurice Sendak

77. Twilight (series) Stephenie Meyer

78. Beloved Toni Morrison

79. The Help Kathryn Stockett

80. Sherlock Holmes (series) Arthur Conan Doyle

81. Half of a Yellow Sun Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

82. Moneyball Michael Lewis

83. My Family and Other Animals Gerald Durrell

84. Memoirs of a Geisha Arthur Golden

85. On the Road Jack Kerouac

86. Cloud Atlas David Mitchell

87. Wild Swans Jung Chang

88. Anne of Green Gables L.M. Montgomery

89. Les Miserables Victor Hugo

90. Room on the Broom Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

91. Private Peaceful Michael Morpurgo

92. Noughts and Crosses Malorie Blackman

93. Cider with Rosie Laurie Lee

94. Danny the Champion of the World Roald Dahl

95. Down and Out in Paris and London George Orwell

English: George Orwell in Hampstead On the cor...

English: George Orwell in Hampstead On the corner of Pond Street and South End Road, opposite the Royal Free Hospital. The bookshop has long gone. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

96. The Magic Faraway Tree Enid Blyton

97. The Witches Roald Dahl

98. The God of Small Things Arundhati Roy

99. Holes Louis Sachar

100. The Picture of Dorian Gray Oscar Wilde.

English: Oscar Wilde, three-quarter length por...

English: Oscar Wilde, three-quarter length portrait, facing front, seated, leaning forward, left elbow resting on knee, hand to chin, holding walking stick in right hand, wearing coat. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So… what do you think? Did the teachers get an A+ for their list?  Are there any other books that you treasure that didn’t make the top 100?

If you were asked to list your top 10 books what would you include?

Thought of the Day 11.8.12 Margaret Mitchell

“Death and taxes and childbirth! There’s never any convenient time for any of them”
–Margaret Mitchell

Margaret Mitchell all set to launch cruiser af...

Margaret Mitchell all set to launch cruiser after long training as Red Cross launchee / World Telegram & Sun photo by Al Aumuller. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Margaret Munnerlyn Mitchell was born on this day in Atlanta, Georgia, USA in 1900. today is the 112th anniversary of her birth.

Mitchell was the younger of two children born to an Atlanta attorney and suffragette. Her father’s family stretched back to colonial Georgia, and he had ancestors who fought in the War of Independence and the War of 1812. Her paternal grandfather was wounded twice in the head at Battle of Antietam, but he survived. After the war he made a fortune selling lumber to an Atlanta eager to rebuild.  Her mother’s people were from Ireland. Her maternal grandfather, Philip Fitzgerald, came over to America and bought a plantation in Georgia. He too fought in the Civil War.

If all of that has the Tara theme of Gone With The Wind playing in your head… well, lets just say Mitchell wrote what she knew, and growing up she was fed a steady diet of Old South stories along with the collard greens and fried chicken that graced every good Georgian table.

As a child Margaret Mitchell was saturated with stories of the Civil War told to her by family members who had lived through it. They indoctrinated her so effectively that Mitchell was ten years old before she learned that the South had lost the war. [Book Rags: Encyclopedia of the World]

Her mother was strict– she was “quick with the hairbrush whenever she thought her daughter was acting spoiled or ill-mannered.”[ReoCities; Margaret Mitchell] — When Mitchell came home from her first day of school frustrated at not being able to do the math and vowing not to go back Maybelle Mitchelle beat the little girl’s bottom with a hairbrush then took her in the carriage on a tour of ruined plantations near Atlanta.

‘ “Fine and wealthy people once lived in those houses,” she told the child, slowing the horses and pointing at the shabby former plantation houses they passed. “Now they are old ruins and some of them have been that way since Sherman marched through. Some fell to pieces when the families in them fell to pieces. …Now, those folk stood as staunchly as their house did. You remember that, child — that the world those people lived in was a secure world, just like yours is now. But theirs exploded right from underneath them. Your world will do that to you one day, too, and God help you, child, if you don’t have some weapon to meet that new world. Education!…People — and especially women — might as well consider they are lost without an education, both classical and practical… You will go back to school tomorrow,” she ended harshly, “and you will conquer arithmetic.” [Ibid]

Mitchell went back to school.

She was an avid reader and story-teller. She would snatch up her older brother’s books when he was finished with them. She loved sharing time with Maybelle as her mother read Mary Johnson’s historical/romance novels to her — they especially liked the ones dealing with the Old South. And she was a life long fan of children’s contemporary fantasy author Edith Nesbit. She told stories to her brother and his friends and made up plays for her school mates. She’d write the stories down and illustrate them. She created her own “publishing company” called “Urchin Publishing Co.” By 13 she’d written a 237 page book of Civil War stories.

When the First World War broke out Mitchell’s older brother joined up. She volunteered at refuge center. Toward the end of the war she met Lieutenant Clifford West Henry. He could

… quote poetry and passages from Shakespeare. Some of Margaret’s friends thought that he was of weak personality, strongly contrasting to Margaret’s, and was unmanly. But Margaret was quite taken by him. Clifford soon gave her a heavy gold family ring. In August, however, Clifford was told he was to be transferred overseas, and that night, he and Margaret secretly got engaged. [Ibid]

Mitchell went off to Smith College and Clifford went to war. At first she didn’t like Smith, which she called ‘a crusty old place,’ but soon enough she grew accustomed to it and the chic,  sophisticated, northern fellow students. They thought ‘Peggy’ cut a very romantic figure with her southern accent and her letters from an overseas lover.  Sadly in October Clifford died from shrapnel wounds he received from air bomb.

Mabelle  was sick too, but the news was kept from Mitchell. Her mother died  in January from the influenza epidemic and Mitchell returned home to take care of the household.

In 1922 she married Berrien Kinnard “Red” Upshaw, “an ex-football player and bootlegger.” [Margaret Mitchell House]  He was  “broad-shouldered, six feet and two inches, had brick-red hair, green eyes, and a cleft chin.”[ReoCities; Margaret Mitchell] so he towered over Mitchell, who was just 5 feet tall. Red was also violent and unpredictable. He physically and verbally abused Mitchell and marriage only lasted a few months.

Finances were not good. Her father had suffered financial setbacks. So, in 1922, Mitchell took a job as a features writer for the Atlanta Journal Sunday Magazine for $25 a week.

In 1925 she found true love with John Marsh. “Marsh was soft-spoken, not as tall as Red, and not extremely attractive. He was stoop-shouldered, wore glasses over his grey brown eyes, and had sandy hair which was receding and flecked with grey.” [Ibid] He’d long been  Red and Mitchell’s friend, and was the best man at their wedding. Whenever Red went too far Marsh was the first phone call Mitchell made. When things finally fell apart he was there to pick up the pieces, and Margaret Mitchell, finally, saw who the “best man” in the scenario really was.

English: Photograph of the Margaret Mitchell H...

English: Photograph of the Margaret Mitchell House in Atlanta, Georgia, USA taken by Jin-Ping Han on January 30th 2006 using a Canon Inc. Powershot S400 digital camera Category:Images of Atlanta, Georgia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When Mitchell injured her ankle in a car accident in May of 1926 she was bedridden for several weeks. Marsh dutifully stopped at the library to pick up stacks of novels for her to read. By the time she was able to hobble about on crutches she’d read her way through the library. Mitchell folk-lore has it that the next time he came home it was with a Remington Portable No. 3 typewriter. He gave it to her saying that she could write a better book than the thousands he’d been lugging back and forth.

She had no outline, but her authentic background gave her guidelines and structure. The story would commence with the war and end with Reconstruction, and it would be the story of Atlanta during that time as much as it would be the story of the characters she created. She did not come to the typewriter cold. She knew the story would involve four major characters, two men and two women, and that one of the men would be a romantic dreamer like Clifford Henry; and the other, a charming bounder like Red Upshaw…[Ibid]

For the women she would choose a paragon of Southern virtue for one character and some one  who was strong, hot-headed and “a bit of a hussy.” [Ibid] In other words some one vaguely like her maternal grandmother and herself. At first her heroine was named Pansy O’Hara.

She wrote ferociously 6 to eight hours a day “She kept index-card files for the characters, no matter how minor they were.” [Ibid] but the novel took years to complete.

Gone with the Wind cover

Gone with the Wind cover (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gone With the Wind was published in June 1936. Mitchell was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her sweeping novel the following May.[Margaret Mitchell House]

It was a Book of the Month main selection. Mitchell won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1937 and the book sold eight million copies by the time of her death.   Selznick-International purchased the movie rights for $50,000 shortly after its publication.

It was made into an equally famous motion picture starring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable. The movie had its world premiere at the Loew’s Grand Theater in Atlanta December 15, 1939. [Ibid]

The film won 10 Academy Awards.

Mitchell “spent the rest of her life shepherding her book through many foreign editions, protecting her financial and copyright interests, and answering her extensive fan mail.” [Book Rags: Encyclopedia of the World]

Margaret Mitchell was killed by a drunk driver while crossing an Atlanta street in August 1949.

Mitchell's grave in Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta

Mitchell’s grave in Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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