Wlliam Gilmore Simms

William Gilmore Simms Biography

By David Moltke-Hansen, Director of the Simms Initiatives

Harper's Weekly put it succinctly in its July 2nd, 1870 issue: "In the death of Mr. Simms, on the 11th of June, at Charleston, the country has lost one more of its time-honored band of authors, and the South the most consistent and devoted of her literary sons" (420). Indeed, no mid-nineteenth-century writer and editor did more than William Gilmore Simms to frame white southern self-identity and nationalism, shape southern historical consciousness, or foster the South's participation and recognition in the broader American literary culture. No southern writer had more contemporary esteem and attention, at least after Edgar Allan Poe moved north. Among American romancers (or writers of prose epics), only New Yorker James Fenimore Cooper was as successful by the 1840s. In those same years, Simms was the South's most influential editor of cultural journals. He also was the region's most prolific cultural journalist and poet, publishing an average of a book review and a poem per week for forty-five years. Read more >

Bibliography of Simms's Works and Related Texts

As Simms Initiatives staff processes these titles, and especially as they become aware of past mistakes in attributing Edition and Printing distinctions, details of this list might change slightly. See our Print on Demand page for information about availability on selected works. View list >


Simms's Life
This timeline serves to orient one to the life of Simms and his family, key events of the era important to that life, and selected publications that issued during Simms's career. It is divided into slightly overlapping sections: Simms's antecedents, his youth, his maturity, his old age, and his later critical reception and treatment. As appropriate, additional points will be added. View Timeline >

Simms's Subjects

Simms wrote on subjects over the span of western history. Entries on and additions to the sections of this timeline highlight subjects to which he gave particular attention. Those before 476 are scattered over ancient history. The medieval period extend from the fall of the Roman Empire to the expulsion of the Moors from Spain. The early modern period covers the Atlantic world, especially of the Spanish and French empires, from 1450 to the seventeenth century. The British colonial period overlaps in part but stretches to the eve of the American Revolution. The revolutionary era extends to the conclusion of the War of 1812 and is followed by the era of the early republic, antebellum period, then the Civil War and Reconstruction. View Timeline >