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Margaret Mitchell produced the most popular novel in American history at the age of 36, spent the remaining 13 years of her life answering fan mail, and died in , having requested that all her writings and personal papers be destroyed. Last year, after year-old Henry Angel Jr. And he then watched without legal recourse as the for-profit repository of all things Scarlett — with the beady blessing of the bottom-line-oriented Mitchell estate — turned around and sold the lot to Scribner for over a million bucks.
Plumped up with letters and photos of Mitchell, Angel, and their friends, and cleverly designed into a pretty little volume, the book — more of a booklet — makes a literary event out of immature, unexceptional writings replete with many of the stock racial and cultural stereotypes of her time and class the author would probably blush furious to know now are seeing the light of print.
For all that, Lost Laysen — the title refers to a fantastical South Pacific island swallowed up by volcanic ash — is fascinating, and the specifics of the girlish fairy-tale romance comprise the least of it.
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And could be argued that this is still the case, even after the discovery of Lost Laysen , a novella she wrote when she was just sixteen. The story takes up less than half of the pages of this slim volume, set in narrow columns with wide margins. It is a tale of unrequited love, of a man who desires this woman with all his heart but who can never obtain her. It is Lost Laysen , a story of love and honor on a South Pacific Island, which Margaret Mitchell wrote in longhand in two blue composition books in the summer of her sixteenth year. Margaret Mitchell made him a gift of Lost Laysen, and both Mitchell and Angel took the secret of this remarkable present to their graves. The Scribner edition of Lost Laysen goes on to describe the book:.
Lost Laysen by Margaret Mitchell (1916): A Lost Novella Rediscovered
Lost Laysen is a novella by Margaret Mitchell. Although it was written in , it was not published until Mitchell, who is best known as the author of Gone with the Wind , was believed to have only written one full book during her lifetime. However, when she was 15, she had written the manuscript to Lost Laysen —a romance set in the South Pacific. She gave the two notebooks containing the handwritten work to a suitor named Henry Love Angel, who kept the manuscript along with a number of letters Mitchell had sent him. Angel died in , but Lost Laysen remained undiscovered until his son found the manuscript while preparing to donate the letters to the Road to Tara Museum. Edited by Debra Freer, the book includes an extensive introduction telling the story of Mitchell and Angel's relationship, complete with photographs and reproductions of some of her letters.