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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  • Publication date: 1860s (x)
  • Holding Institution: University of South Carolina, South Caroliniana Library (x)
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    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, ...
    Father Abbot, or, The Home Tourist; a Medley

    Father Abbot, or, The Home Tourist; a Medley

    Journalism | 1849
               Father Abbot collects together a series of related political fictions Simms wrote for the Charleston Mercury from September to November 1849.[1]  Here, the author revealed his significant wit and complex thinking about social, political, and philosophical issues through the perambulations of the titular Father Abbot about Charleston and its environs.  As Father Abbot travels around the city with various companions, its economic and political future are discussed; this conceit allowed Simms to use his satirical gifts to create a humorous, yet biting, commentary on the socioeconomic ...
    Sir Will O

    Sir Will O'Wisp; Or the Irish Baronet; a Tale of its own day

    Novel (Romance) | 2014
    ...
    The Book of My Lady:  A Melange

    The Book of My Lady: A Melange

    Miscellany | Key & Biddle | 1833
                    While a minor work overall in the Simms canon, The Book of My Lady: A Melange, published in 1833 by Key & Biddle of Philadelphia, is nevertheless an important text.  Here, Simms presents several stories that appear in later works, positioning The Book of My Lady as an interesting transitional work.  This collection of nineteen stories and ten poems also provides a clear glimpse of the influence of Romanticism on Simms, particularly in his thinking about the complex relationships between art, history, and nationality—subjects that would fascinate the author throughout ...
    The Remains of Maynard Davis Richardson with a Memoir of His Life

    The Remains of Maynard Davis Richardson with a Memoir of His Life

    Documents | O. A. Roorback | 1833
                    One of Simms’s most personal works, The Remains of Maynard Davis Richardson is an editorial project the writer undertook after his good friend Richardson’s premature death at the age of 20 on 12 October 1832.  While details about their friendship remain scarce, it is known that Richardson accompanied Simms on the writer’s first trip to the North,[1] and Simms dedicated his long 1832 narrative poem Atalantis to him, referring to the younger man’s “high moral and intellectual worth” in his dedicatory note.  The families of the two men had been long acquainted ...
    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 ...
    Pelayo:  A Story of the Goth

    Pelayo: A Story of the Goth

    Medieval History | Novel (Romance) | Harper & Brothers | 1838
                    By the late 1830s, Simms’s reputation and fame were on a steady rise; on the strength of romances like The Yemassee and The Partisan, Simms was widely regarded as one of antebellum America’s finest writers.  At this point, the always self-conscious novelist made one of the more curious decisions of his literary career by reworking a piece of verse-drama juvenilia into the novel Pelayo:  A Story of the Goth, published in two volumes by Harper & Brothers of New York in 1838.  In writing Pelayo, Simms left the romantic epics of America’s history and frontier on which ...
    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 ...
    The Life of the Chevalier Bayard

    The Life of the Chevalier Bayard

    Medieval History | 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 ...
    A Supplement to the Plays of William Shakspeare

    A Supplement to the Plays of William Shakspeare

    Early Modern History | 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 ...
    Donna Florida. A Tale.

    Donna Florida. A Tale.

    Early Modern History | 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 ...
    The Brothers of the Coast. a Romance.

    The Brothers of the Coast. a Romance.

    Early Modern History | Novel (Romance) | 2014
    ...
    The Damsel of Darien

    The Damsel of Darien

    Early Modern History | Novel (Romance) | Lea and Blanchard | 1839
               The Damsel of Darien was published in two volumes in 1839.  Simms first mentioned the story to James Lawson in a 2 September 1838 letter, revealing that he “wrote during the first part of the summer some 150 pages of a new novel & there it sticks.”[1]  Simms informed Lawson in January of 1839 that Damsel would be published with Lea & Blanchard of Philadelphia, who would pay $1000 for a first edition of 3,000 copies; in the meantime, Simms was busy revising the “numerous errors of history & geography” committed while composing the first volume of the story.[2]  ...
    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

    Early Modern History | 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 ...
    The Social Principle

    The Social Principle

    Early Modern History | 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, ...
    The Vision of Cortes, Cain, and Other Poems.

    The Vision of Cortes, Cain, and Other Poems.

    Early Modern History | Poetry | James S. Burges, 44 Queen Street | 1829
                The Vision of Cortes, Cain, and Other Poems, Simms's fourth separate publication, was issued in the summer of 1829.  Like his three previous works, it is a volume of poetry.  Comprised primarily of the three long poems “The Vision of Cortes,” “Cain,” and “Ashley River,” the volume also contains a number of shorter works, some of which had been previously published in other venues.  The subject matter of the volume ranges widely, moving from the title poem, which recalls in verse the 1518 expedition of Hernán Cortés into Mexico, to an ode to South Carolina’s ...
    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 Geography of South Carolina

    The Geography of South Carolina

    British Colonial History | 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 Life of Captain John Smith. The Founder of Virginia.

    The Life of Captain John Smith. The Founder of Virginia.

    British Colonial History | 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 Sources of American Independence

    The Sources of American Independence

    British Colonial History | 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 ...
    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 ...
    The Yemassee.  A Romance of Carolina.

    The Yemassee. A Romance of Carolina.

    British Colonial History | Novel (Romance) | Harper & Brothers | 1835
                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 ...
    Benedict Arnold: The Traitor. A Drama, In An Essay

    Benedict Arnold: The Traitor. A Drama, In An Essay

    Revolutionary History | Drama | 1863
              Throughout Simms’s career, one of his paramount concerns was the connection between art and history, and the role of the literary artist in conveying history.  While readers see Simms exploring these connections in his Revolutionary Romances, other scattered works of fiction, and the essays in Views and Reviews, one of the writer’s most intriguing presentations of the ability of art to interpret history is in the genre-mixing Benedict Arnold: The Traitor. A Drama, in an Essay.  Critic Miriam J. Shillingsburg regards Benedict Arnold as worthy of commendation for its “thoughtful ...
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