Tara, the O’Haras, and the Irish Gone With the Wind

Margaret Mitchell, 1941, photographed by Al Aumuller, courtesy of the New York World-Telegram and Sun Photograph Collection at the Library of Congress.

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Tara, the O’Haras, and the Irish Gone With the Wind

by Geraldine Higgins
Southern Cultures, Vol. 17, No. 1: The Irish

"Into the debate about place, race, and the second-best-selling book of all time, we can also bring Irishness."

Perhaps one of the most frustrating things for fans of Gone With the Wind is arriving in Atlanta, Georgia, only to discover that they have come to the wrong place. If they want to see the white columns and the wraparound porch of Tara, they need to go to Burbank, California, and take a tour of the MGM movie lot. Because Tara does not exist. Perhaps this is fortuitous, given the many anxieties about Mitchell’s representation of plantation life in antebellum Georgia. Mitchell’s attitudes towards slavery, and the book and film’s nostalgia for the Lost Cause, have occasioned a repudiation of Gone With the Wind on both political and aesthetic grounds.