Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Subject time periods
Spanish Colonial HistoryAncient HistoryFrench Colonial History
Medieval HistoryEarly Modern HistoryBritish Colonial History
Revolutionary HistoryEra of the Early RepublicAntebellum Period
Civil War and Early Reconstruction
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Beauchampe; or, The Kentucky Tragedy. A Tale of Passion.

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

Era of the Early Republic | 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, ...
Guy Rivers: A Tale of Georgia

Guy Rivers: A Tale of Georgia

Era of the Early Republic | Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1855
          Guy Rivers was published by Harper & Brothers in July 1834 as the first of Simms’s many fictional frontier writings known as the Border Romance series. According to the author, these works were “meant to illustrate the border & domestic history of the South.”[1]  Writing to James Lawson in December 1833, Simms described the novel as “a tale of Georgia—a tale of the miners—of a frontier and wild people, and the events are precisely such as may occur among a people & in a region of that character.”[2]  Mary Ann Wimsatt notes that Guy Rivers established ...
Guy Rivers: A Tale of Georgia

Guy Rivers: A Tale of Georgia

Era of the Early Republic | Novel (Romance) | Harper & Brothers | 1834
          Guy Rivers was published by Harper & Brothers in July 1834 as the first of Simms’s many fictional frontier writings known as the Border Romance series. According to the author, these works were “meant to illustrate the border & domestic history of the South.”[1]  Writing to James Lawson in December 1833, Simms described the novel as “a tale of Georgia—a tale of the miners—of a frontier and wild people, and the events are precisely such as may occur among a people & in a region of that character.”[2]  Mary Ann Wimsatt notes that Guy Rivers established ...
Richard Hurdis; or, The Avenger of Blood. A Tale of Alabama.

Richard Hurdis; or, The Avenger of Blood. A Tale of Alabama.

Era of the Early Republic | Novel (Romance) | Carey and Hart | 1838
           Richard Hurdis, the second of Simms’s Border Romances (following Guy Rivers of 1834), presents an intriguing study of the author’s development, as its publication history illustrated Simms’s notorious sensitivity to critical reception.  Hurdis came out during a worrisome time in Simms’s life, with his second wife, Chevillette Eliza Roach Simms, severely ill while pregnant, and the writer’s relationship with his publisher, the Harper Brothers of New York, souring.  John C. Guilds notes that “alternating moods of depression and optimism—lifelong traits—soon became dominant ...
Richard Hurdis: A Tale of Alabama

Richard Hurdis: A Tale of Alabama

Era of the Early Republic | Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1855
           Richard Hurdis, the second of Simms’s Border Romances (following Guy Rivers of 1834), presents an intriguing study of the author’s development, as its publication history illustrated Simms’s notorious sensitivity to critical reception.  Hurdis came out during a worrisome time in Simms’s life, with his second wife, Chevillette Eliza Roach Simms, severely ill while pregnant, and the writer’s relationship with his publisher, the Harper Brothers of New York, souring.  John C. Guilds notes that “alternating moods of depression and optimism—lifelong traits—soon became dominant ...
Voltmeier; or, The Mountain Men

Voltmeier; or, The Mountain Men

Era of the Early Republic | Novel (Romance) | U of South Carolina P | 1969
           Judging by a letter he wrote to his friend Evert Augustus Duyckinck in December 1868, William Gilmore Simms considered Voltmeier, his forthcoming Mountain Romance, to be, “in some respects, one of the most remarkable books I have ever written,” and “among the most excellent of my prose writings.”[1]  Part of the Border Romance series, the novel was inspired by the story of the infamous Allen Twitty, “a highly respected member of a prominent family noted for public service,” whose indictment and sensational trials for counterfeiting between 1805 and 1815 became a cause célèbre ...
As Good as a Comedy and Paddy McGann

As Good as a Comedy and Paddy McGann

Antebellum Period | Novel (Romance) | U of South Carolina P | 1972
            As Good as a Comedy and Paddy McGann are two short novels that reveal Simms’s talents as a comedic writer.  While other works, like Border Beagles, contain humorous sections or characters, these two works stand out as sustained comedic successes.  In these, Simms shows an understanding of and skill at utilizing the tropes of frontier humor, popularized by the likes of A.B. Longstreet’s Georgia Scenes, as well as a use of humor as social commentary that foreshadowed the work of Twain.  While each was published previously, they were published together in one volume in 1972, ...
As Good as a Comedy, or the Tennessean

As Good as a Comedy, or the Tennessean's Story

Antebellum Period | Novel (Romance) | A. Hart | 1852
            As Good as a Comedy and Paddy McGann are two short novels that reveal Simms’s talents as a comedic writer.  While other works, like Border Beagles, contain humorous sections or characters, these two works stand out as sustained comedic successes.  In these, Simms shows an understanding of and skill at utilizing the tropes of frontier humor, popularized by the likes of A.B. Longstreet’s Georgia Scenes, as well as a use of humor as social commentary that foreshadowed the work of Twain.  While each was published previously, they were published together in one volume in 1972, ...
Beauchampe; or, The Kentucky Tragedy

Beauchampe; or, The Kentucky Tragedy

Antebellum Period | Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1856
            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, ...
Border Beagles:  A Tale of Mississippi

Border Beagles: A Tale of Mississippi

Antebellum Period | Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1855
          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 ...
Border Beagles:  A Tale of Mississippi

Border Beagles: A Tale of Mississippi

Antebellum Period | 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 ...
Charlemont; or, The Pride of the Village

Charlemont; or, The Pride of the Village

Antebellum Period | Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1856
            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, ...
Confession; or, The Blind Heart. A Domestic Story

Confession; or, The Blind Heart. A Domestic Story

Antebellum Period | Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1856
            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, ...
Southward Ho!  A Spell of Sunshine

Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine

Antebellum Period | Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
            William Gilmore Simms assembled his 1854 Southward Ho!  A Spell of Sunshine largely out of his various periodical fiction publications, many from the late 1840s.  Often categorized as one of the author's novels, the work is organized as a collection of short stories unified by the central narrative conceit of a group of storytelling passengers on a sea voyage from New York to Charleston.[1]  The travelers pass the time by sharing stories of their homes or other familiar (usually southern) locales.  Because of this organization, John C. Guilds says the text exhibits ...
The Cub of the Panther:  A Hunter Legend of the

The Cub of the Panther: A Hunter Legend of the ''Old North State''

Antebellum Period | Novel (Romance) | The University of Arkansas Press | 1997
           In the closing years of his life, William Gilmore Simms found himself physically unwell, near-indigent, and living in a post-Civil War world that challenged his entire conception of social order.  Yet, out of this, Simms produced one last great flourish of creativity, including The Cub of the Panther:  A Hunter Legend of the “Old North State.”  This novel shares certain features with the author’s earlier border romances, exhibiting a similar interest in violence, comedy, and social stratification.  Yet, the different socio-political circumstances of the postbellum world ...
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