Gone with the Wind publishers brand novel ‘racist’ and ‘harmful’ at start of new edition

The publishers of Gone with the Wind have branded the book “harmful” and “racist” in a new trigger warning.

A new edition of Margaret Mitchell’s epic novel, released by Pan Macmillan, contains a caution at the start warning readers of its “problematic” content.

The note reportedly says the book has not been rewritten to erase the offensive material, but says it includes “racist” elements that are “hurtful or indeed harmful”.

The book, first published in 1936, is a romance set during the American Civil War, in which the slave-owning South fought Abraham Lincoln’s abolitionists in the North.

Gone with the Wind’s lead character Scarlett O’Hara, who is played in the 1939 film adaptation by Vivien Leigh, is the daughter of a plantation owner.


Find the trigger warning in full, as reported by The Telegraph, below:

“Gone with the Wind is a novel which includes problematic elements including the romanticisation of a shocking era in our history and the horrors of slavery.

“The novel includes the representation of unacceptable practices, racist and stereotypical depictions and troubling themes, characterisation, language and imagery.

“The text of this book remains true to the original in every way and is reflective of the language and period in which it was originally written.

“We want to alert readers that there may be hurtful or indeed harmful phrases and terminology that were prevalent at the time this novel was written and which are true to the context of the historical setting of this novel.

“Pan Macmillan believes changing the text to reflect today’s world would undermine the authenticity of the original, so has chosen to leave the text in its entirety.

“This does not, however, constitute an endorsement of the characterisation, content or language used.”

Vivien Leigh and Hattie McDaniel in the film version of ‘Gone with the Wind' (Selznick/Mgm/Kobal/Shutterstock)
Vivien Leigh and Hattie McDaniel in the film version of ‘Gone with the Wind' (Selznick/Mgm/Kobal/Shutterstock)

The edition also includes an essay written by author Philippa Gregory (The Other Boleyn Girl) arguing that Mitchell’s book “effectively promoted the racist planter view of the history of the South”.

Gregory adds that the book “defends racism” and “glamorises and preaches white supremacy”, as well as “tells us, unequivocally, that African people are not of the same species as white people”.

The author then states: “This is the lie that spoils the novel”.

Pan Macmillan notes that Gregory was selected to write the essay as “we believed it was important that no author from a minority background should be asked to undertake the emotional labour of being responsible for educating the majority”.

This trigger warning and essay follows the film adaptation’s return to streaming service HBO Max with a similar video essay at the start of the film.

The Independent has contacted Pan Macmillan for comment.