Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Subject time periods
Ancient HistoryFrench Colonial HistorySpanish Colonial History
Medieval HistoryEarly Modern HistoryBritish Colonial History
Revolutionary HistoryEra of the Early RepublicAntebellum Period
Civil War and Early Reconstruction
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    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 ...
    Atalantis.  A Story of the Sea: In Three Parts.

    Atalantis. A Story of the Sea: In Three Parts.

    Antebellum Period | Poetry | J. & J. Harper | 1832
                William Gilmore Simms published Atalantis.  A Story of the Sea: In Three Parts in the fall of 1832.  While Simms’s name does not appear anywhere on or in the text, it is unlikely that he sought any type of anonymity in its publication.  Within weeks of its appearing in print a reviewer in the Charleston Courier announced, “It is attributed to the pen of our fellow-townsman, William Gilmore Simms, Esq.…”[1]  Even without such prompting anyone familiar with Simms’s work would have quickly recognized his authorship, because the opening sonnet was one that he had previously ...
    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 ...
    Carl Werner, An Imaginative Story; with Other Tales of Imagination

    Carl Werner, An Imaginative Story; with Other Tales of Imagination

    Antebellum Period | Short Stories | George Adlard | 1838
               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 ...
    Castle Dismal; or, The Bachelor

    Castle Dismal; or, The Bachelor's Christmas

    Antebellum Period | 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 ...
    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 ...
    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, ...
    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

    Antebellum Period | 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 ...
    Martin Faber and Other Tales

    Martin Faber and Other Tales

    Antebellum Period | Short Stories | Harper & Brothers | 1837
               One of the most important works in Simms’s development as a writer, Martin Faber has a long and intriguing publication history.  Originally published as a novella by J. & J. Harper of New York in 1833, it was revised and expanded for re-publication, alongside nine other short stories and a poem, as Martin Faber, the Story of a Criminal, and Other Tales, issued by Harper & Brothers in 1837.[1]  Simms biographer John Caldwell Guilds notes the significance of Martin Faber for the author, as its writing and Simms’s hopes for it, seemed to seriously alter his life in his late ...
    Martin Faber:  The Story of a Criminal

    Martin Faber: The Story of a Criminal

    Antebellum Period | Novella | J. & J. Harper | 1833
               One of the most important works in Simms’s development as a writer, Martin Faber has a long and intriguing publication history.  Originally published as a novella by J. & J. Harper of New York in 1833, it was revised and expanded for re-publication, alongside nine other short stories and a poem, as Martin Faber, the Story of a Criminal, and Other Tales, issued by Harper & Brothers in 1837.[1]  Simms biographer John Caldwell Guilds notes the significance of Martin Faber for the author, as its writing and Simms’s hopes for it, seemed to seriously alter his life in his late ...
    Poems: Descriptive, Dramatic, Legendary and Contemplative

    Poems: Descriptive, Dramatic, Legendary and Contemplative

    Antebellum Period | Poetry | Redfield | 1853
                William Gilmore Simms’s ultimate ambition for his collected poetical works titled Poems: Descriptive, Dramatic, Legendary, and Contemplative was limited to posterity.  Unlike most of his literary efforts, it was not a money-making operation.  He wrote his friend B.F. Perry in January 1852, “my hope & expectation are not profit.  I seek only to put myself fully on record for the future.”  Remarkably, Simms went on to explain this bid for future acclaim:  “I regard my career as pretty well over, and wish now to revise and make myself as worthy as possible in the eyes ...
    Southern Passages and Pictures

    Southern Passages and Pictures

    Antebellum Period | Poetry | George Adlard | 1839
                Southern Passages and Pictures is a volume of poetry by William Gilmore Simms, although his name is not mentioned directly on the title page. The work announced its author simply as the writer of “Atalantis,” “The Yemassee,” “Guy Rivers,” and “Carl Werner,” perhaps assuming that readers would know Simms in association with his authorship of these well-read works.  The volume was published in December of 1838 by George Adlard, who also published Carl Werner on Simms’s behalf.  Craighead and Allen were the Printers. Although Southern Passages and Pictures was published ...
    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 ...
    Views and Reviews in American Literature, History and Fiction

    Views and Reviews in American Literature, History and Fiction

    Antebellum Period | 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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