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Mitchell tops poll of put-downs

Gone With The Wind author Margaret Mitchell has been crowned the queen of the literary put-down in a new poll.

The writer, whose novel inspired the classic film starring Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh, topped a poll which included that famous wit Oscar Wilde, Jane Austen and William Shakespeare.

The line in question - Rhett Butler's " My dear, I don't give a damn" - which was altered in the film to the more famous "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn" picked up the most votes.

In second place in t he top 10 of immortal insults is Lady Bracknell's line, from Oscar Wilde's The Importance Of Being Earnest, where she says: " To lose one parent, Mr Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness."

The top three is completed by the surreal snub from Terry Pratchett's Small Gods where one of his characters, a tortoise called Om, tells another character: " May your genitals sprout wings and fly away."

The poll, which surveyed 2,000 adults, was commissioned by UKTV channel Drama and also featured lines from Agatha Christie and Ernest Hemingway.

The channel's general manager, Adrian Wills, said: "These authors had such an incredible ear for dialogue they would put most modern day script writers to shame. It's clear that a great put-down is as memorable as budding romance or tragic ending when it comes to enduring literature. At Drama we are committed to airing these wonderful moments on screen for more generations of drama lovers to enjoy."

The top 10 greatest put-downs in literature:

1. "My dear, I don't give a damn." - Gone With The Wind, Margaret Mitchell - (Character: Rhett Butler)

2. "To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune, Mr Worthing, to lose both looks like carelessness" - The Importance Of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde - (Character: Lady Bracknell)

3. "May your genitals sprout wings and fly away." - Small Gods, Terry Pratchett - (Character: Om - the tortoise)

4. "If you will forgive me for being personal, I do not like your face." - Murder On The Orient Express, Agatha Christie - (Character: Hercule Poirot)

5. "She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me" - Pride And Prejudice, Jane Austen - (Character: Mr Darcy)

6. "You are the last man in the world I could ever be prevailed upon to marry." - Pride And Prejudice, Jane Austen - (Character: Elizabeth Bennett)

7. "If looks could kill, you'd soon find out that yours couldn't." - After Claude, Iris Owens - (Character: Harriet)

8. "The tartness of his face sours ripe grapes." - Coriolanus, William Shakespeare - (Character: Menenius)

9. "The simplicity of your character makes you exquisitely incomprehensible to me." - The Importance Of being Earnest, Oscar Wilde - (Character: Gwendolen)

10. "I misjudged you... You're not a moron. You're only a case of arrested development." - The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway - (Character: Harvey Stone)

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