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

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

French Colonial History | 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 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

Medieval History | History | Redfield | 1860
            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 ...
Vasconselos

Vasconselos

Early Modern History | Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1853
            Vasconselos is a Colonial Romance (Simms describes it as “ante-colonial,” meaning before European settlement in the future South).  It treats, in various levels of depth, a host of subject matters.[1]  The most notable is the Spanish effort to colonize the New World.  Within this exploration, Simms treats the adjustment of Spanish culture from Medieval to Early Modern standards, the effects of imperialistic ethics upon that culture, ruling class corruption, the alienation of racial and national minorities, and the historic De Soto expedition to mainland North America.  ...
The Cassique of Kiawah:  A Colonial Romance

The Cassique of Kiawah: A Colonial Romance

British Colonial History | Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1859
          The Cassique of Kiawah, thought by many critics of Simms’s own time and several modern scholars to be the author’s best work, is a colonial romance about the early days of Charleston.  Setting the book in the 1680s, Simms robustly describes the competing claims of the English and Spanish over Charleston and its environs, including the attendant violence and actions of Spanish pirates and English privateers.  In so doing, he presents a vision of Charleston that was not genteel and sophisticated, but rather raucous and frontier-like; Simms thus usedThe Cassique of Kiawah to critique ...
The Wigwam and the Cabin

The Wigwam and the Cabin

British Colonial History | Short Stories | Redfield | 1856
                Originally published by Wiley and Putnam in two volumes—the first series in October 1845 and the second in February 1846—for the Library of American Books series, The Wigwam and the Cabin is a collection of border stories about the southwestern frontier.  Simms best summarized the collection in a dedicatory letter to his father-in-law for the 1856 Redfield edition: “One word for the material of these legends.  It is local, sectional—and to be national in literature, one must needs be sectional.  No one mind can fully or fairly illustrate the characteristics of any great ...
The Yemassee: A Romance of Carolina

The Yemassee: A Romance of Carolina

British Colonial History | Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
            The Yemassee is historically the best known of the long fictions of William Gilmore Simms.  Set on the South Carolina frontier, Simms’s third book-length fiction treats the Yemassee War of 1715-17, when the Yemassee Indians, with their Spanish and Native American allies, attacked the low country colonial settlements.  Writing in the midst of the removal of natives from east of the Mississippi to the newly created Indian Territory in the future Oklahoma, Simms emphasized such motives for the war as the colonists’ need for land, the conflict between rival European powers ...
Eutaw

Eutaw

Revolutionary History | Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1856
            Eutaw, published by Redfield on 19 April 1856, is the sequel to The Forayers, and the penultimate romance in Simms's Revolutionary War saga[1].  It completes the story of the British withdrawal from their outpost at Ninety-Six, including the battle of Eutaw Springs, the last major engagement of the Carolina theatre, and its aftermath.  Simms’s biographer John Caldwell Guilds notes that it is necessary to understand Eutaw as a sequel, as it was “not a new venture but the extension and completion of a scheme which kept expanding in the author's fertile imagination.”[2]  ...
Katharine Walton; or, The Rebel of Dorchester

Katharine Walton; or, The Rebel of Dorchester

Revolutionary History | 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 ...
Katharine Walton; or, The Rebel of Dorchester. An Historical Romance of the Revolution in Carolina.

Katharine Walton; or, The Rebel of Dorchester. An Historical Romance of the Revolution in Carolina.

Revolutionary History | Novel (Romance) | A. Hart | 1851
          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 ...
Mellichampe: A Legend of the Santee

Mellichampe: A Legend of the Santee

Revolutionary History | Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
          The second of eight novels in the Revolutionary War series, William Gilmore Simms’s Mellichampe was originally published by Harper in 1836, then revised and republished in the Redfield edition in 1854.  The story follows the fictional band of Francis Marion’s partisans in the fall of 1780 after the Battle of Camden, as they engage in guerrilla warfare on the Santee River against loyalist and British forces.  In his advertisement to the first edition, Simms considered Mellichampe a “Historical romance” that accurately conveyed the career of Marion[1] to the “very ...
Mellichampe: A Legend of the Santee

Mellichampe: A Legend of the Santee

Revolutionary History | Novel (Romance) | Harper & Brothers | 1836
          The second of eight novels in the Revolutionary War series, William Gilmore Simms’s Mellichampe was originally published by Harper in 1836, then revised and republished in the Redfield edition in 1854.  The story follows the fictional band of Francis Marion’s partisans in the fall of 1780 after the Battle of Camden, as they engage in guerrilla warfare on the Santee River against loyalist and British forces.  In his advertisement to the first edition, Simms considered Mellichampe a “Historical romance” that accurately conveyed the career of Marion[1] to the “very ...
South-Carolina in the Revolutionary War

South-Carolina in the Revolutionary War

Revolutionary History | Reviews/Essays | Walker & James, Publishers | 1853
           Throughout his life, William Gilmore Simms was deeply invested in researching and interpreting the history of the American Revolution and was particularly concerned with promoting the participation of his native South Carolina in that conflict.  As evidenced by his biographies of Francis Marion and Nathanael Greene, his series of epic romances of the Revolution largely set in South Carolina, and his emphasis on the Revolution in his The History of South Carolina, Simms’s understanding of South Carolina’s role in the conflict was one of patriotism and heroic self-sacrifice.  ...
The Forayers; or, The Raid of the Dog-Days

The Forayers; or, The Raid of the Dog-Days

Revolutionary History | Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1855
            Simms biographer John Caldwell Guilds notes that, in 1855, Simms would "enter a four-year period marked not by the exuberance and the surging creative force of the young Simms, but rather by an artistic imagination tempered and refined by maturity and experience."[1] The first major product of this new period was The Forayers, another in Simms's series of revolutionary romances, published by Redfield in 1855.  The Forayers is concerned with the British army's retreat from its outpost at Ninety-Six, and explores the events leading up the Battle of Eutaw Springs in 1781; ...
The Partisan: A Romance of the Revolution

The Partisan: A Romance of the Revolution

Revolutionary History | Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
          The Partisan: A Tale of the Revolution (1835) was the first composed of Simms’s series of romances about the Revolutionary War, though the second in the series’ overall chronology.  The Partisan was also the first of a “trilogy” of closely-related novels within Simms’s overall Revolutionary War saga, sharing characters and other links with Mellichampe (1836) and Katherine Walton (1851).[1] The novel deals with the 1780 Battle of Camden and its aftermath, especially the guerilla warfare tactics employed by “The Swamp Fox,” General Francis Marion, and other ...
The Scout; or, the Black Riders of Congaree.

The Scout; or, the Black Riders of Congaree.

Revolutionary History | Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
            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 Sword and the Distaff; or, "Fair, Fat and Forty," A Story of the South, at the Close of Revolution

The Sword and the Distaff; or, "Fair, Fat and Forty," A Story of the South, at the Close of Revolution

Revolutionary History | Novel (Romance) | Walker, Richards & Co. | 1852
       Written in the “midst of one of the most productive creative surges in his career,”[1] Woodcraft; or, Hawks About the Dovecote: A Story of the South at the Close of the Revolution makes the most serious and sustained claim as Simms’s masterpiece in the novel form.[2]  The fifth novel composed in Simms’s saga of the American Revolution, it is set during the chaotic close and aftermath of the war.  This makes it the last (eighth) Revolutionary Romance in terms of chronological action. As the work opens, the British are evacuating Charleston in December 1782. Then the novel shifts ...
Woodcraft; or, Hawks About the Dovecote

Woodcraft; or, Hawks About the Dovecote

Revolutionary History | Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
       Written in the “midst of one of the most productive creative surges in his career,”[1] Woodcraft; or, Hawks About the Dovecote: A Story of the South at the Close of the Revolution makes the most serious and sustained claim as Simms’s masterpiece in the novel form.[2]  The fifth novel composed in Simms’s saga of the American Revolution, it is set during the chaotic close and aftermath of the war.  This makes it the last (eighth) Revolutionary Romance in terms of chronological action. As the work opens, the British are evacuating Charleston in December 1782. Then the novel shifts ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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, ...
Charleston: The Palmetto City.  An Essay

Charleston: The Palmetto City. An Essay

Antebellum Period | Travel Writings | Harper & Brothers; Southern Studies Program, University of South Carolina | 1857, 1976
                Charleston: The Palmetto City is a 1976 pamphlet republication of an essay of the same name, originally published anonymously by Simms in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine in June 1857.[1]  The pamphlet edition of this essay is a facsimile of the original Harper’s piece.  In the essay, a rare example of the author’s travel writing, Simms focused on the architecture and geography of his native city, descriptions that are complimented by detailed illustrations of many of the most significant of Charleston’s buildings and memorials.[2]  While a minor work, the essay ...
City of the Silent

City of the Silent

Antebellum Period | Poetry | Walker & James, Publishers | 1850
            The City of the Silent is a poem of 500 lines written by William Gilmore Simms in November 1850.  It was published by Walker & James in Charleston, SC that same year.  The cover lists a specific date, November 19, which was the date that Simms delivered the poem at the consecration of the new Magnolia Cemetery on the banks of the Cooper River, just north of Charleston.  Although it was being published in December of 1850, and despite the fact the cover notes the date of publication as 1850, the work was released as a pamphlet in February of 1851.[1]             ...
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