'Gone with the Wind' prequel will focus on the character of Mammy

'Rhett Butler's People' writer Donald McCaig's novel 'Ruth's Journey' will be released this October.

Actress Hattie McDaniel portrayed the character of Mammy in the film version of 'Gone with the Wind.'

Readers will soon be able to view the famous story of “Gone with the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell through the eyes of an unexpected character: Scarlett’s slave Mammy.

The Mitchell estate has authorized writer Donald McCaig to write a novel, titled “Ruth’s Journey” (Ruth is Mammy’s real name in this telling), that details how the character is brought to America as a slave and how she views the events of Mitchell’s original novel. McCaig’s novel “Rhett Butler’s People,” which was released in 2007 and explores the childhood and family history of “Wind” romantic hero Rhett, was one of two books previously authorized by the Mitchell estate, with author Alexandra Ripley’s “Scarlett” also approved.

“Ruth” is set to be published by Simon & Schuster via its imprint Atria Books in October.

“It was Donald’s idea, instead of doing another sequel, to go backwards,” Atria editorial director Peter Borland told the New York Times. “He felt that Mammy was such a fascinating and crucial character to the book. He wanted to flesh out a story of her own.” 

According to Borland, McCaig’s novel doesn’t shy away from the racial themes embedded in the world of “Wind.”

“What’s really remarkable about what Donald has done is that it’s a book that respects and honors its source material, but it also provides a necessary correction to what is one of the more troubling aspects of the book, which is how the black characters are portrayed,” he said.

The actress who portrayed Mammy in the 1939 film version of “Wind,” Hattie McDaniel, became the first African-American to win an Oscar when she was given the Best Supporting Actress prize for her role.

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