Wlliam Gilmore Simms
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Revolutionary HistoryEra of the Early RepublicAntebellum Period
Civil War and Early Reconstruction
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    Atalantis; A Story of the Sea.

    Atalantis; A Story of the Sea.

    Antebellum Period | Poetry | Carey and Hart | 1849
                Though the first edition of Atalantis.  A Story of the Sea (1832) was well received by reviewers both North and South, it had only one printing.  The limited print run of just 500 copies meant that relatively few readers could enjoy the many “uncommonly strong and vigorous passages” that comprised William Gilmore Simms’s fanciful tale.[1]  Simms was early convinced that a larger readership existed and that Atalantis offered him an opportunity to increase his reputation in both the Northern states and Europe.  In 1837 he wrote to James Lawson, one of his best friends ...
    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 ...
    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 ...
    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 ...
    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 ...
    Flirtation at the Moultrie House

    Flirtation at the Moultrie House

    Antebellum Period | Novella | 1850
             One of Simms’s minor works, the epistolary novella, Flirtation at the Moultrie House, presents an interesting picture of society life in mid-century Charleston.  Mary Ann Wimsatt notes that Flirtation, published as a pamphlet in 1850 by Edward C. Councell of Charleston, shows Simms’s “growing talent for brisk descriptions of city life,” while Simms biographer John C. Guilds notes the satiric success of the work:  “Not only is Flirtation of interest because it represents a type of fiction almost wholly different from that characteristically associated with the prolific ...
    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 ...
    Matilda: or, The Spectre of the Castle.  An Imaginative Story.

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

    Antebellum Period | 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 ...
    The Charleston Book:  A Miscellany in Prose and Verse

    The Charleston Book: A Miscellany in Prose and Verse

    Antebellum Period | 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 Golden Christmas: A Chronicle of St. John

    The Golden Christmas: A Chronicle of St. John's, Berkeley

    Antebellum Period | Novella | Walker, Richards & Co. | 1852
                    Published by Walker & Richards in 1852, The Golden Christmas is novella of social manners set in the lowcountry of Berkeley County near Charleston, South Carolina.  Geography is of central importance to both the book itself and the story within.  Charleston, as the home of the author, the setting of the story, and the location of the publisher and printer is as much the focus of the work as any characters or details of plot; in a 2005 introduction to the novella, critic David Aiken claims that The Golden Christmas “today provides one of the most comprehensive and accurate ...