2011 is the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War. Sally Tippett Rains is available for speaking engagements and she can add an element of Civil War history or Movie history to your event. Rains can speak about any aspect of Gone With the Wind, either in regular clothes or dressed in a hoop skirt to enhance your gathering.
To book rains, contact:: info@GWTWbook.com
The Making of a Masterpiece, The True Story of Margaret Mitchell's Classic Novel Gone With The Wind contains the exclusive Civil War history behind Margaret Mitchell's story. Rains had access to a scrapbook from Mitchell's family which contains pictures from the 1800's as well as stories from Mitchell's Civil War ancestors. Some of these stories are very similar to stories in Gone With The Wind.
For more information: info@GWTWbook.com
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About Melanie and Charles Hamilton
In February 2010, a note arrived from Margaret Melanie Phillips, who basically wondered: could the character of Melanie Hamilton have been named after her mother Margaret Melanie Hawkins. The story came from her cousin Chris Tull, who had been told by her uncle, Charles Tull who is close to 90. The elder Tull’s father-in-law, who is Margaret Phillip’s great-grandfather knew Margaret Mitchell, so Phillips decided to research this.
She found information on my book, The Making Of A Masterpiece, The True Story of Margaret Mitchell’s Classic Novel, Gone With The Wind, online but had not yet read it. She wondered if I would know the answer. Well, if you’ve already read the book, you will know that my research pointed in a very different direction, and the whole story of Melanie was fascinating to me as it unfolds in my book-- but it is interesting to look at her family because maybe they did play a part in Gone With The Wind, even if it is a small part.
The interesting thing about Margaret Phillips’ letter is just what Abb Dickson of Jonesboro, Georgia told me when I was interviewing him for my book. Dickson, whose family knew the Fitzgeralds (Mitchell’s Civil War-era family) told me that when Gone With The Wind came out, “everybody” in Jonesboro saw characters or events they felt could relate it to their family. Isn’t it amazing that one woman who only published one novel during her lifetime could generate so much interest?
Margaret Phillips’ Great-grandfather was Frank Hawkins, a well known business man and cultural leader in Atlanta. He is deceased but his brother Charles Tull was the one who told her the story. Frank lived at the corner of Peachtree and 7th Street and then later on the 9th floor of the Ponce de Leon apartments on Peachtree. Now in the context of Margaret Mitchell’s life, Frank Hawkins was less than ten blocks away from both where Mitchell grew up and where she went as an adult. In 1912 Eugene and Maybelle Mitchell moved their children Stephens and Margaret to a home on Peachtreer near 17th. Later, after she married John Marsh, they moved into an apartment which is now the Margaret Mitchell House and Museum. The address of the Mitchell House is 990 Peachtree (closer to Hawkins.)
Frank Hawkins had a daughter (Phillips’ grandmother) named Margaret Melanie Hawkins as Margaret Melanie was a family name; Both of his brothers also named a daughter after the original Margaret Melanie. Just as Katie Scarlett O'Hara went by her middle name of Scarlett, many women went by their middle name, and with two cousins having the same name, one may have gone by Melanie. Anyway, Margaret Phillips’ family knew Margaret Mitchell.
“My Grandmother, Margaret Melanie Hawkins Tull was one of the founders of the Junior League in Atlanta,” said Margaret Phillips. “I know this as when my Mother’s best friend put me up for the Junior League that was a big deal.”
The Junior League of Atlanta started in 1916 and was very prestigious by the time Margaret Mitchell came out a s a debutante in 1920. With the Mitchell’s social standing it was always assumed she would be asked to join the Junior League, but as it turned out, according to reports, she was blackballed because she had performed a scandalous dance in public. Margaret Melanie Hawkins, who traveled in the same circles may have been one of those women in the group who did not extend the much-coveted invitation to join.
“My grandmother was married in 1919 and so could very well have been part of the junior league then,” said Margaret Phillips. Mitchell and Hawkins were about the same age and may even have been friends.
“Supposedly Frank Hawkins (her father) was talking to Margaret Mitchell and she was trying to come up with a name for a very genteel southern lady,” said Margaret Phillips. “And he said ‘well what about my daughter, you have met her and she certainly fits the description.’ Margaret Mitchell didn’t want to use “Margaret” as it was her name but said Melanie wasn’t that common a name at that time and thought it would be perfect for the character.”
Hawkins he was very prominent and sat on many boards of directors including Georgia Power, where John Marsh worked and he was also a member the Piedmont Driving Club — a long-time favorite haunt of Margaret Mitchell. Beyond that, he may have known her if his daughter was a friend of hers.
Margaret Melanie Hawkins married Charles Watson Tull and had two sons and a daughter – Margaret Phillips’ mother. They lived in Ashville North Carolina—the very place Mitchell and her first husband Berrien Upshaw took their honeymoon.
“My grandmother (Margaret Melanie) was always very sickly,” said Phillips. “She was told not to have more children after my mother. She did have another son but later became almost bedridden or carried while the children were growing up.”
Phillips said her grandmother went to Atlanta often to see her father and special arrangements were always made to accommodate her because of her chronic illness and weakness.
“It is a question I’ve wondered about since four of us are named after my grandmother, Margaret Melanie,” said Phillips.
It could be they were just named after the grandmother, but it also could be that because of the connection with Margaret Mitchell and the popularity the book the family just wanted to continue the name in order to romanticize the notion that Mitchell might have named her character after their family member.
The fact that the real life Margaret Melanie married a man named Charles, makes an interesting connection. Mitchell probably did not name her character Melanie after this woman, but knowing there was a “Charles and Melanie” could have led her to choose the name Charles as Melanie Hamilton’s brother. Also, the sickly demeanor of Melanie Hawkins could have contributed (although Mitchell herself was pretty sickly) to that attribute of the fictional Melanie Hamilton.
"Margaret Mitchell knew my Grandmother, Margaret Melanie Hawkins," said Phillips.
My research strongly points to a cousin of Mitchell's as being the model for Melanie in Gone With The Wind, but it sure is interesting considering the additional possibility that there is still a connection here with the Charles-Melanie tie. There is a big twist in the research that I did regarding the whole Melanie storyline. If you like history, you will be amazed by this story.