Wlliam Gilmore Simms
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The Charleston Book:  A Miscellany in Prose and Verse

The Charleston Book: A Miscellany in Prose and Verse

Miscellany | The Reprint Company; Samuel Hart, Sen. | 1845, 1983
           One of the major American cities of the mid-19th century, Charleston was viewed by its citizens as a hub of culture and erudition equal to that of the other great cities of the time, including New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Baltimore.  To illustrate the quality of the city’s intellectual life and literary merits, “Charleston book-seller and Reform Jewish leader Samuel Hart, Sr. proposed that Charlestonians join the trend” of putting together an anthology of writings by city residents, much as several other cities had done throughout the late 1830s.[1]  Simms, the leading ...
The Geography of South Carolina

The Geography of South Carolina

History | Babcock & Co. | 1843
            The Geography of South Carolina, written as a companion piece for the 1842 edition of The History of South Carolina, was published by Babcock & Co. in 1843.  Simms conceived of The History and The Geography as parts of a single project and initially desired the two books to be published together in one volume.[1]  Sean R. Busick notes that such a publication was cost-prohibitive; thus, The History and The Geography were published separately.[2]  In the preface to The Geography, Simms suggests another reason for their separate publication:  by breaking up his subject ...
The History of South Carolina, From Its First European Discovery to Its Erection into a Republic

The History of South Carolina, From Its First European Discovery to Its Erection into a Republic

History | S. Babcock & Co. | 1840
            Believing it “necessary to the public man, as to the pupil,” Simms undertook The History of South Carolina explicitly for the education of the state’s young people, so as to tell them the vibrant history of the state and the distinguished accomplishments of her leaders.[1]  There is evidence to suggest that Simms was particularly motivated to write such a history in order to provide an historical account of South Carolina and notable South Carolinians, to his eldest child Augusta, who was attending boarding school in Massachusetts in the late 1830s.[2]  Simms seemingly ...
The History of South Carolina, From Its First European Discovery to Its Erection into a Republic

The History of South Carolina, From Its First European Discovery to Its Erection into a Republic

History | S. Babcock & Co. | 1842
            Believing it “necessary to the public man, as to the pupil,” Simms undertook The History of South Carolina explicitly for the education of the state’s young people, so as to tell them the vibrant history of the state and the distinguished accomplishments of her leaders.[1]  There is evidence to suggest that Simms was particularly motivated to write such a history in order to provide an historical account of South Carolina and notable South Carolinians, to his eldest child Augusta, who was attending boarding school in Massachusetts in the late 1830s.[2]  Simms seemingly ...
The Kinsmen; or, the Black Riders of Congaree.  A Tale.

The Kinsmen; or, the Black Riders of Congaree. A Tale.

Novel (Romance) | Lea and Blanchard | 1841
            William Gilmore Simms’s third novel of the Revolutionary War (though fifth in order of plot chronology) was originally published in 1841 under the title The Kinsmen.  It became an early offering as part of the Redfield edition under its more popularly-known title The Scout in 1854.  A novel of familial conflict in the context of war and a broad-minded exploration of patriotism across classes, The Scout opens shortly after the Battle of Hobkirk’s Hill (aka the Second Battle of Camden)[1] in May 1781.  The action ends with the British departure from the Star Fort at Ninety ...
The Letters of William Gilmore Simms. Vol. 2

The Letters of William Gilmore Simms. Vol. 2

Correspondence | U of South Carolina P | 1953
            In his lifetime, William Gilmore Simms “was the author of thirty-four works of fiction, nineteen volumes of poetry, three of drama, three anthologies, three volumes of history, two of geography, six of biography, and twelve of reviews, miscellanies and addresses, a total of eighty-two volumes.”[1]  The estimate of the output was impressive, if not quite complete.[2]  Regardless, Simms’s influence was unparalleled.  No mid-nineteenth-century writer and editor did more to frame white southern self-identity and nationalism, shape southern historical consciousness, or foster ...
The Life of Captain John Smith. The Founder of Virginia.

The Life of Captain John Smith. The Founder of Virginia.

Biography | Geo. F. Cooledge & Brother | 1847
           The Life of Captain John Smith was published by George F. Cooledge & Brother in March 1847 as part of The Illustrated Library series intended for school libraries and general reading.[1]  Simms’s letters indicate that he began the biography as early as November 1844 when he wrote to George Frederick Holmes: “I have half contracted to prepare a Life of Sumter, one of Paul Jones, and a third of John Smith, with a new edition of his history of Virginia.”[2]  By the middle of the month Simms informed James Lawson he had already “written a chapter.”  The process of getting ...
The Life of Francis Marion

The Life of Francis Marion

Biography | Henry G. Langley | 1844
A significant aim throughout Simms’s work is to provide South Carolina, and the South generally, with pride of place in the emergence of the American nation, its people, and their national character.  Simms does this work largely through his narration of the Revolutionary War in South Carolina, the focus of numerous romances, histories, and other works.  One such work is The Life of Francis Marion, a biography of the legendary “Swamp Fox.”  Simms’s interest in Marion is pronounced, as the famous general appears in several of the revolutionary romances; while flawed at times, Simms’s ...
The Life of Nathanael Greene, Major-General in the Army of the Revolution

The Life of Nathanael Greene, Major-General in the Army of the Revolution

Biography | Geo. F. Cooledge & Brother | 1849
                Simms was interested in the American Revolution throughout his career, writing significant works about the conflict in both fiction and nonfiction.  By 1840, he had already produced the first edition of his History of South Carolina as well as two of his Revolutionary Romances, all of which are works largely concerned with the effect of the Revolution on his native state.  Around this same time, Simms had decided to complement this work by writing biographies.  In April 1840, he wrote to James Lawson that he was “meditating and taking notes for several Biographies—say ...
The Life of the Chevalier Bayard

The Life of the Chevalier Bayard

Biography | Harper & Brothers | 1847
           For Simms, it was in a time “when chivalry was at its lowest condition in Christian Europe,” that the Chevalier Bayard provided the world, “the happiest illustration, in a single great example, of its ancient pride and character,” and “the most admirable model to the generous ambition of the young that we find in all the pages of history.”[1]  Simms wrote The Life of Chevalier Bayard, a biography of the late-medieval French knight, to serve as an archetype of virtue for Americans.  In 1845, Simms had written two articles on Bayard for Southern and Western[2], and ...
The Lily and the Totem, or, The Huguenots in Florida

The Lily and the Totem, or, The Huguenots in Florida

Novel (Romance) | Baker and Scribner | 1850
                While it largely fell out of the public consciousness after the author’s death, Simms’s The Lily and the Totem is one of his most intriguing works, both because of its overall quality and its experimentation with the possibilities of mixing history and fiction.  While The Lily and the Totem is a story of French Huguenots in sixteenth-century Florida, it is not, importantly, a historical romance.  Rather, Simms here experimented with a new way in which to relate history—by telling history through fictionalized narratives that fill in the gaps between what we do and do ...
The Prima Donna:  A Passage From City Life

The Prima Donna: A Passage From City Life

Short Stories | Louis A. Godey | 1844
         While one of the more obscure works in Simms’s canon, The Prima Donna:  A Passage from City Life, provides an intriguing look into his relationship with the serial publishers who published so much of his work.  It is also a noteworthy work for its content.  Biographer John C. Guilds finds that it  reflects Simms’s “interest in theater” and helps to demonstrate that the author “wrote more effectively about drama than he wrote drama itself.”[1] A brief, 24-page fiction published as a standalone book by Louis A. Godey in 1844, The Prima Donna was originally composed sometime ...
The Social Principle

The Social Principle

Speech | The Erosophic Society of the University of Alabama | 1843
            William Gilmore Simms delivered his lecture The Social Principle: The True Source of National Permanence to the Erosophic Society[1] at the University of Alabama on 13 December 1842 during the occasion of his receiving an honorary LL.D. degree from that university.[2]  An important text in Simms studies, this oration marks “Simms’s single most extensive published exposition of his social philosophy.”[3]  He took as the genesis for his talk what he perceived as the fundamentally changed nature of the environs of western Alabama from his previous visit to the area, ...
The Sources of American Independence

The Sources of American Independence

Speech | The Town Council of Aiken, SC | 1844
            The Sources of American Independence. An Oration, on the Sixty-Ninth Anniversary of American Independence was delivered by William Gilmore Simms on 4 July 1844 in Aiken, SC.  As its long title suggests, the speech was composed to celebrate the sixty-nine years of American nationhood since the Declaration of Independence; what is unmentioned in the title but equally relevant to an understanding of this work is the fact that it was composed essentially as a stump speech[1] during Simms’s successful 1844 run for a seat in the South Carolina State Legislature.  Giving a speech ...
Views and Reviews in American Literature, History and Fiction

Views and Reviews in American Literature, History and Fiction

Reviews/Essays | Wiley and Putnam | 1845 - 1846
          Part of the Wiley and Putnam’s highly influential Library of American Books, Simms’s two-volume Views and Reviews in American Literature, History and Fiction, shows the author theorizing the “American” aspects of American literature, as well as the relationship between America’s history and its imaginative writing.  In this, we can see Simms presenting and promoting the cultural agenda of the “Young America” movement, whose members included Melville, Poe, and Hawthorne.  Views and Reviews is thus a central text in understanding the struggle for defining American literature ...
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