Which forename did Margaret Mitchell originally choose for Scarlett O'Hara in "Gone with the Wind"?
"Pansy O'Hara" - most people now would say that just doesn't ring right! But in fact, it was the name that Margaret Mitchell (1900-1949) originally chose for the spirited heroine of the epic but controversial 1936 novel of the American Civil War, "Gone with the Wind", famously portrayed by Vivian Leigh in the award-winning 1939 movie adaptation.
Throughout the early drafts of the novel, she always referred to the heroine as "Pansy". However, in the course of her research into Irish names (the family at the mansion, Tara, being of Irish descent) she discovered that "Scarlet" is an Irish surname. It caught her eye, and she made a last minute decision to use it, with an extra "t", as the forename of her heroine. In the days long before computers and word-processing, she had to pay a typist the (then) princely sum of 50 cents and hour to amend the name to Scarlett throughout. It is little wonder that she struggled to meet the publication deadline!
But the rest is history, and though, justifiably, we now feel uneasy with the presentation of the African Americans in the books, and Mitchell's tolerance of slave ownership, it is hard not to be captivated by the story of the spoilt southern Belle who is transformed into a successful businesswoman, and her tumultuous love life.