Wlliam Gilmore Simms
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  • Publication date: 1840s (x)
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    A Supplement to the Plays of William Shakspeare

    A Supplement to the Plays of William Shakspeare

    Drama | Geo. F. Cooledge & Brother | 1848
               Well-known as a poet, cultural critic, and novelist, William Gilmore Simms’s undertaking of an edited volume of Shakespearean apocrypha seems, at first, odd and atypical.  Yet, throughout his long career, Simms displayed a real interest in the theatre, attempting, often unsuccessfully, to write and stage plays.  His correspondence also shows a recurring concern with the opinions and evaluations of the great Shakespearean actor Edwin Forrest, for whom Simms wrote several dramas, none of which were ever staged.[1]  Taking into account the author’s deep and abiding interest ...
    Castle Dismal; or, The Bachelor

    Castle Dismal; or, The Bachelor's Christmas

    Novella | Burgess, Stringer & Co. | 1844
                A gothic tale of ghosts, infidelity, murder, and love, Castle Dismal follows the protagonist Ned Clifton, a “veteran bachelor” who fears the bonds of marriage, in his holiday visit to the home of married friends.  Set during the Christmas season in South Carolina, Simms’s story illustrates the southern custom of bringing together family around a table to feast; and while Clifton eventually marries Elizabeth Singleton—freeing him from the “melancholy dependencies of bachelorism”—Simms subverts naïve nineteenth-century notions of marriage and domesticity.[1]  Marked ...
    Confession; or, The Blind Heart. A Domestic Story.

    Confession; or, The Blind Heart. A Domestic Story.

    Novel (Romance) | Lea and Blanchard | 1841
                Building out of his early experiences with writing in the psychological gothic mode in such texts as Martin Faber (1833) and Carl Werner (1838) and anticipating his later work Castle Dismal (1844), William Gilmore Simms published Confesssion; or, The Blind Heart in 1841.  Coming at the front of what many consider to be the author’s most productive period, this novel is the extended confession of Edward Clifford who is orphaned at a young age and sent to be reared by his aunt and uncle in Charleston.  Rising above his foster parents’ scorn, Clifford becomes a lawyer, a prominent citizen, ...
    Count Julian; or, The Last Days of the Goth

    Count Julian; or, The Last Days of the Goth

    Novel (Romance) | William Taylor & Co. | 1845 - 1846
                    While generally considered to be one of Simms’s weakest novels, Count Julian; or, the Last Days of the Goth provides one of the most intriguing textual histories of any of the author’s numerous works.  Conceived as a sequel to Simms’s 1838 novel Pelayo, Count Julian continues Simms’s fictional treatment of Medieval Spain, dramatizing the legendary betrayal of Julian, Count of Cueta, an act that helped lead to the Muslim conquest of Iberia.  The work suffered from multiple delays in both composition and publication and was not published until 1845 or 1846, more ...
    Helen Halsey, or The Swamp State of Conelachita: A Tale of the Borders

    Helen Halsey, or The Swamp State of Conelachita: A Tale of the Borders

    Novella | Burgess, Stringer & Co. | 1845
                    While one of the lesser-known of Simms’s border romances, the novella Helen Halsey is nevertheless a strong work, indicative of the overall project the author undertook in that series.  The first mention of Helen Halsey in the Letters was in June 1843.  By September, Simms told James Lawson that the work was “nearly ready.”  Helen Halsey was “to follow up” Simms’s ghost story Castle Dismal, a work he announces in the same letter to be sending to “the Harpers.”[1]  Letters to Lawson from this time period indicate that the author was interested in shopping ...
    Katharine Walton; or, The Rebel of Dorchester

    Katharine Walton; or, The Rebel of Dorchester

    Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
              Set in September of 1780, Katharine Walton is the third installment of a trilogy that follows The Partisan and Mellichampein covering the Revolution in South Carolina.[1]  While The Partisan and Mellichampe are set in the interior of the Santee and Wateree rivers, Katharine Walton  takes the reader to the city of Charleston in 1780-81 to trace the social world of South Carolina under British occupation.[2]  The city functions narratively as a “unifying center,” according to John C. Guilds, to free Katharine Walton of the “awkward shifts in action and setting ...
    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 ...
    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 ...