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Catholic church gets literary windfall

Aug. 17, 2012 at 1:07 PM

ATLANTA, Aug. 17 (UPI) -- A nephew of "Gone with the Wind" author Margaret Mitchell left half the literary rights to the novel to the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta, a deacon said.

Joseph Mitchell's multimillion-dollar bequest is likely to be a gift that keeps on giving, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. "Gone with the Wind," published in 1936, continues to sell steadily.

Joseph Mitchell died last October.

Steve Swope, a deacon in charge of administering the bequest, said that payments for stage and dance productions of the novel could bring in several hundred thousands of dollars a year. The film rights were sold during the 1930s, and the resulting movie, starring Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara and Clark Gable as Rhett Butler, was one of the most popular in history.

Joseph Mitchell urged Archbishop Wilton Gregory to use the bequest for charitable work and the upkeep of Christ the King Cathedral in Atlanta.

Mitchell was one of two sons of Margaret Mitchell's brother. The other half of the GWTW rights is in trust for the family of

his brother.

Margaret Mitchell was a practicing Catholic for much of her life but left the church after her mother's death. Darden Asbury Pyron, author of "Southern Daughter: A life of Margaret Mitchell," said she was very close to her mother, a devout Catholic.

"She associated her mother with the church," he said. "She never denounced the church. She simply left."

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