WASHINGTON - It's not that Margaret Mitchell didn't give a damn whether Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler would ever get back together again in "Gone with the Wind." She simply didn't know, according to letters to fans from the celebrated 20th century American novelist that have come up for auction in the United States this week.
"About the ending of the book and whether or not Rhett came back to his wife - well, you have me out on a limb," wrote Mitchell five months after her best-seller was published in 1936.
"You see, I do not know myself. I honestly never thought about what happened to the characters after the book ended," she explained.
"You asked if I planned this to be a book when I began it," added Mitchell. "Yes, I had every detail in my head before I set a single word on paper." The single-page, signed letters from November 1936 through August 1938 give insight into the creative process that resulted in one of American literature's best-known books - and one of Hollywood's greatest screen hits.
Massachusetts-based RR Auctions listed the correspondence as part of its latest online auction of Hollywood memorabilia that ends Thursday. On Monday, bidding had surpassed $3,300.
The lot also includes an informational booklet about Mitchell and her book, with a notation in her hand on the front cover, and a scrapbook "meticulously compiled" by an admirer.
Former journalist Mitchell was in her mid-20s when she started writing the Civil War epic that won her a Pulitzer fiction prize as well as a National Book Award.
She died in 1949 when she was fatally struck by a car in downtown Atlanta, Georgia on her way to the movies. She was 48.