Sitting on the shelf in a New York bookshop, Mitchell’s book called ‘Old Mr. Flood’ which was written back in 1938 is a brilliant read. A view of New York told to us by a 93 year old, called Hugh Flood, will change your view of New York for ever. The book is a brilliant combination of a novel, with some brilliant fact, which allows you to go on an interesting and intricate journey through the city of New York.
Throughout his writing, Mitchell would connect with his subject and bring it to life. However, after 30 years of astounding writing, he went through a similar amount of time of not being able to write at all. However, it was later revealed through a memoir which was never published, that he did actually continue to write, and write quite a lot in fact.
As well as his writing, from these excerpts which have recently been found, it’s been revealed that he was interested in cathedrals, and the city neighbourhoods as well. He would also take great interest in the changing architecture of the city.
Whilst growing up in North Carolina, he was an outsider, which may be why he always gravitated towards other outsiders, so much so that he was interested in outcasts from the Bible, which then continued throughout to New York where he lived throughout his life.
As a journalist in his earlier adult years, he would often be on the streets and going around the city visiting various places, which is apparent that he took great interest in with much of his work being set in those locations.
With such a good rate of output, it was just as well that Mitchell joined the ‘The New Yorker’ team as they were expanding. It was the editor that persuaded Mitchell to join the team, by providing an actual salary, rather than the standard ‘drawing account’.
During his thirty years there, he wrote many pieces, both longer ones, as well as Profiles, and also many narratives of the city. He would always include great detail in his pieces, which got him a reputation for this.
All of Mitchell’s works are highly detailed and contain brilliant ambience and a real feeling to them.
However, at 94 years of age, he said that he regrets staying on the good path. Although he drank, he didn’t do anything else wrong, rather, was the stereotypical family man, with a squeaky clean conscience.
With his last piece for ‘The New Yorker’ in 1964, he wrote a piece about Joe Gould, which he said was so similar to himself, he felt as though he was writing about himself.
After that day, Mitchell would go into work every morning, tapping away, but when anyone looked to see if he had any work done, there would be nothing on his desk. With a combination of losses, that could be the reason behind his sudden stop, but he did keep his office there for the rest of his life, and although many of his works are forgotten, if you look hard enough, you can still see him here and there.