You surely know about Atlanta’s connections to classic films, but did you know about the city’s ties with books and literary greats? Bibliophiles can’t miss these landmarks related to notable authors, from their homes to final resting places.
Margaret Mitchell House
The first place to start your literary journey around Atlanta is the home of the most famous Georgia writer. Margaret Mitchell lived with her husband at this Midtown apartment that she affectionately referred to as “The Dump.” It was here in the 1920s that she wrote her classic, "Gone With the Wind," based on hearing about the experiences of the Civil War from veterans. The Mitchells moved in 1932 and the building faced demolition as the city changed, but it was designated a historic landmark in 1989. Now a museum, the home is open to daily tours and features exhibits on Mitchell’s life and legacy, as well as on the movie that resulted from her novel.
Atlanta Fulton County Central Library
Located on the fifth floor of the downtown library branch is a small collection of items belonging to Margaret Mitchell. This under-the-radar landmark features the typewriter on which she wrote "Gone With the Wind," her Atlanta Public Library card, Mitchell family photos and books she used in her research. There are also copies of her books translated into dozens of languages. Best of all, the exhibit is free to visit.
(📷 Melissa McAlpine)
Located between Cabbagetown and the Old Fourth Ward, Oakland Cemetery was built in 1850 as a final resting place for Atlanta’s citizens after overcrowding in other cemeteries. Created in the Victorian style of “garden cemeteries,” it’s a popular place for a walk among the trees. It’s here that Margaret Mitchell is buried, alongside her husband. But she’s not the only notable name here. Golf legend Bobby Jones and Atlanta mayors Maynard Jackson and Ivan Allen Jr. are also buried here. The cemetery also boasts Confederate and Jewish sections. Tour the cemetery with a guide, wander on your own or attend one of the cemetery's unique events.
The Road to Tara Museum
Located 15 miles south of Atlanta is the town of Jonesboro, which inspired much of Mitchell’s novel "Gone With the Wind" and where some of the author’s family lived. The Road to Tara Museum is set in an 1867 rail depot and has exhibits starting with the history of the region around the time the book was set, including the Battle of Jonesboro and the burning of Atlanta. The museum has first editions the book and costumes and artifacts from the film, including pieces from Herb Bridges, the single largest collector of GWTW memorabilia. Here you can see items like Scarlett O’Hara’s pantalettes from the film and pieces from the Loew’s Theatre premiere.
Marietta "Gone With the Wind" Museum
Located in historic Brumby Hall in Marietta, a suburb of Atlanta, is the Marietta "Gone With the Wind" Museum. This space focuses on the life of the then-unknown writer Margaret Mitchell and the famous film that resulted from her book. Exhibits focus on the book and film’s local connections as well as worldwide impact, with copies of the book and her personal belongings. Don’t miss the famous Bengaline honeymoon gown from the film, one of the few costumes from the film on display in the United States.
The Wren’s Nest
Set in Atlanta’s historic West End neighborhood, the Wren’s Nest is the home of writer Joel Chandler Harris, author of the Brer Rabbit stories. The stunning Queen Anne house was built in 1870 and the writer, who was then the editor of the Atlanta Constitution, lived there from 1881 until his death in 1908. The success of his "Uncle Remus" book made this possible, and he went on to write 20 other books here. The house’s nickname came from a family of wrens that took up residence in the mailbox. After briefly meeting the author, Andrew Carnegie donated the funds after Harris’ death to preserve the home. It became a museum in 1913, retaining many of the original furnishings. Today, the house museum is open to tours and holds special events, including storytelling programs.
While many know about Oakland Cemetery, it’s not the only notable burial place in town. Westview Cemetery was built after Oakland became full in 1884. A stone chapel and mausoleum, built in the 1940s, are among the unique features. It’s here that Joel Chandler Harris is buried, along with Coca-Cola founder Asa Candler, Atlanta Mayor William B. Hartsfield, golfer J. Douglas Edgar and fellow Atlanta Constitution editor Henry Grady. There is also a large Jewish section.
Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum
(📷 Kevin Rose, AtlantaPhotos.com)
But it’s not all about fiction writers. Georgia native and President Jimmy Carter is a prolific writer, who became especially prolific after his presidency. Carter has penned dozens of books, including "Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid," "Keeping Faith: Memoirs of a President" and "The Hornet’s Nest: A Novel of the Revolutionary War." Fans of Carter's work can learn about his humble upbringing as a peanut farmer from Plains to his road to the White House and subsequent work with the Carter Center. Visitors to the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library can see his Nobel Peace Prize, among other notable items from his life.
If you’re looking for even more books by Atlanta authors, check out the "March" series by John Lewis, "And The Walls Came Tumbling Down" by Ralph David Abernathy and "Stride Toward Freedom" by Martin Luther King Jr.
Caroline Eubanks is a writer, author and metro Atlanta native. You can see her work on ThisIsMySouth.com and CarolineEubanks.com.