Wlliam Gilmore Simms
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Border Beagles:  A Tale of Mississippi

Border Beagles: A Tale of Mississippi

Novel (Romance) | Carey and Hart | 1840
          In The Major Fiction of William Gilmore Simms, Mary Ann Wimsatt argues that Border Beagles, the sequel to the scandalous Richard Hurdis, shows Simms as continuing to explore the contentious relationship between the older, civilized tidewater south and the wild trans-mountain frontier.[1]  While thus continuing a theme begun with Guy Rivers and Richard Hurdis, Border Beagles saw Simms decidedly scaling back the violence found in those two books, especially the latter.  Here, the author’s presentation of the chaos and dangers of the frontier is tempered by humor, with ...
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 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 ...
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, ...
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 ...
Beauchampe; or, The Kentucky Tragedy. A Tale of Passion.

Beauchampe; or, The Kentucky Tragedy. A Tale of Passion.

Novel (Romance) | Lea and Blanchard | 1842
            Early in the morning of 7 November 1825, in the town of Frankfort, KY, a young lawyer named Jereboam O. Beauchamp crept to the house of the state attorney general, Solomon P. Sharp, and stabbed him to death.  The murder was orchestrated to avenge the honor of Anna Cook[1], Beauchamp’s wife, who as a single woman had been seduced, impregnated, and abandoned by Sharp[2].  The event was a national sensation immediately following its discovery and Beauchamp’s capture days later.  Following Cook and Beauchamp’s failed joint suicide attempt and the latter’s subsequent execution, ...
Donna Florida. A Tale.

Donna Florida. A Tale.

Poetry | Burges and James | 1843
            Donna Florida is a narrative poem dealing with Ponce de Leon's exploits in what would later become Spanish Florida.  Before full publication in 1843, portions of the poem appeared in The Boston Monthly in 1841 and in the February-May 1843 issues of the Magnolia.[1]  Simms more than likely paid for the publication of this work in book form himself, with the volume being issued in 1843 by Burges and James in Charleston, SC.[2] Simms described the work as not “published, but presented for private distribution.”[3]  Indeed, according to a 29 June 1843 letter that Simms sent ...
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 ...
Michael Bonham; or, The Fall of Bexar. A Tale of Texas

Michael Bonham; or, The Fall of Bexar. A Tale of Texas

Drama | John R. Thompson | 1852
           “I have also a very Texan drama unpublished in my desk,” Simms wrote to state legislator, Armistead Burt, in January 1845, “which will make a rumpus, be sure, if ever it reaches light upon the stage.”[1]  That drama, Michael Bonham, was originally published pseudonymously (by “A Southron”) in the Southern Literary Messenger from February to June 1852.  Richmond publisher, John R. Thompson, released it as a small pamphlet after its serial run in July 1852.[2]  The drama is based on James Butler Bonham, a South Carolina native and lieutenant in the Texas Calvary, who died ...
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 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, ...
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 ...
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 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 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 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 ...
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 ...
Grouped Thoughts and Scattered Fancies: A Collection of Sonnets

Grouped Thoughts and Scattered Fancies: A Collection of Sonnets

Poetry | 1845
            Grouped Thoughts and Scattered Fancies, a collection of sonnets written by William Gilmore Simms, features poems published in the Southern Literary Messenger throughout 1844 and 1845.  This volume was also printed by the Messenger’s printer, W. Macfarlane, in 1845.[1]  Simms is not specifically named as the author on the title page; however, he is identified as the author by the listing of two of his other notable works, Atalantis and Southern Passages and Pictures. Simms personally selected the works for Grouped Thoughts and Scattered Fancies “from his private repertoire ...
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 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 ...
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 ...
Areytos

Areytos

Poetry | John Russell | 1846
            Published in 1846 by John Russell in Charleston, SC, Areytos was also titled Songs of the South, because all the poems dealt with subject matter related to the southern United States.  Many had been published previously in various periodicals.[1] Simms issued this collection on the heels of his Grouped Thoughts and Scattered Fancies. A Collection of Sonnets.[2]  Thinking of himself primarily as a poet and wanting to secure his place as one of America’s best, he followed the publications of Grouped Thoughts (1845) and Areytos (1846) with five other volumes of poetry, all published ...
Egeria: or, Voices of Thought and Counsel, for The Woods and Wayside

Egeria: or, Voices of Thought and Counsel, for The Woods and Wayside

Miscellany | E.H. Butler & Co. | 1853
                Egeria: or, Voices of Thought and Counsel, for The Woods and Wayside was published by E.H. Butler of Philadelphia in 1853 as a collection of Simms-authored laconics written over the course of many years.[1]  Simms began composing his proverbs as early as April 1846 when he published selections of them in the Southern Patriot until April 1847 under the title, “Wayside Laconics.”  Soon afterward, Simms collected these alongside many others and sought Rufus Griswold’s assistance in locating a book publisher for the manuscript, which proved unsuccessful.  Simms then ...
Matilda: or, The Spectre of the Castle.  An Imaginative Story.

Matilda: or, The Spectre of the Castle. An Imaginative Story.

Novella | F. Gleason | 1846
           Carl Werner was published in December 1838 by George Adlard of New York.[1]  In the author’s advertisement, Simms classified the collected stories as “moral imaginative” tales, a form of allegory illuminating the “strifes between the rival moral principles of good and evil.”  Such stories, according to John C. Guilds, may often exploit supernatural elements, although it is not necessary.  Simms attributed the origin of the title story to “an ancient monkish legend,” as he set “Carl Werner” in the deepest parts of the German forest where the narrator and his friend ...
Norman Maurice; or, The Man of the People.  An American Drama in Five Acts.

Norman Maurice; or, The Man of the People. An American Drama in Five Acts.

Drama | John R. Thompson | 1851
                Throughout his long career, Simms was regularly concerned with theatre, though drama would always be the genre with which he had the least commercial and critical success.  Norman Maurice; or,The Man of the the People is perhaps Simms’s best dramatic work, though its failings are typical of his theatrical frustrations.  Norman Maurice was a lofty experiment, mixing contemporary politics with common language presented in the format of the Elizabethan tragedy.  Written in strict blank verse, Norman Maurice is a play in which the Constitutional and slavery questions that ...
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