Wlliam Gilmore Simms
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Areytos

Areytos

Antebellum Period | Poetry | John Russell | 1846
            Published in 1846 by John Russell in Charleston, SC, Areytos was also titled Songs of the South, because all the poems dealt with subject matter related to the southern United States.  Many had been published previously in various periodicals.[1] Simms issued this collection on the heels of his Grouped Thoughts and Scattered Fancies. A Collection of Sonnets.[2]  Thinking of himself primarily as a poet and wanting to secure his place as one of America’s best, he followed the publications of Grouped Thoughts (1845) and Areytos (1846) with five other volumes of poetry, all published ...
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 ...
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 ...
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, and Her Satirists; a Scribblement.

Charleston, and Her Satirists; a Scribblement.

Antebellum Period | Poetry | 1848
            Charleston and Her Satirists consists of a single poem that William Gilmore Simms drafted in response to a previously published work on Charleston.  Simms is not directly identified as the author, but is referred to as “A City Bachelor.”  The work was printed and published in two sections by James S. Burges in Charleston, SC during 1848.  The first section probably came to press sometime around November 24, as that is when Simms sent a copy to J.H. Hammond.[1]  In the accompanying letter, Simms asked for Hammond’s opinion of the work, noting that he himself had some ...
Egeria: or, Voices of Thought and Counsel, for The Woods and Wayside

Egeria: or, Voices of Thought and Counsel, for The Woods and Wayside

Antebellum Period | Miscellany | E.H. Butler & Co. | 1853
                Egeria: or, Voices of Thought and Counsel, for The Woods and Wayside was published by E.H. Butler of Philadelphia in 1853 as a collection of Simms-authored laconics written over the course of many years.[1]  Simms began composing his proverbs as early as April 1846 when he published selections of them in the Southern Patriot until April 1847 under the title, “Wayside Laconics.”  Soon afterward, Simms collected these alongside many others and sought Rufus Griswold’s assistance in locating a book publisher for the manuscript, which proved unsuccessful.  Simms then ...
Grouped Thoughts and Scattered Fancies: A Collection of Sonnets

Grouped Thoughts and Scattered Fancies: A Collection of Sonnets

Antebellum Period | Poetry | 1845
            Grouped Thoughts and Scattered Fancies, a collection of sonnets written by William Gilmore Simms, features poems published in the Southern Literary Messenger throughout 1844 and 1845.  This volume was also printed by the Messenger’s printer, W. Macfarlane, in 1845.[1]  Simms is not specifically named as the author on the title page; however, he is identified as the author by the listing of two of his other notable works, Atalantis and Southern Passages and Pictures. Simms personally selected the works for Grouped Thoughts and Scattered Fancies “from his private repertoire ...
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 ...
Lays of the Palmetto: A Tribute to the South Carolina Regiment, in the War with Mexico.

Lays of the Palmetto: A Tribute to the South Carolina Regiment, in the War with Mexico.

Antebellum Period | Poetry | John Russell | 1848
            Lays of the Palmetto is a collection of poems that William Gilmore Simms wrote in honor of the South Carolina regiment that participated in the war with Mexico.  Many of the poems were originally published in the Charleston Courier in February and March of 1848.[1] Simms is directly identified as the author of the work on the title page.  In a March 23, 1848 letter to his friend and New York agent, James Lawson, Simms indicated to him that he had “just finished,” the work and was preparing it to go to press.[2]  In late July 1848, Lays of the Palmetto was published by John ...
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 ...
Michael Bonham; or, The Fall of Bexar. A Tale of Texas

Michael Bonham; or, The Fall of Bexar. A Tale of Texas

Antebellum Period | Drama | John R. Thompson | 1852
           “I have also a very Texan drama unpublished in my desk,” Simms wrote to state legislator, Armistead Burt, in January 1845, “which will make a rumpus, be sure, if ever it reaches light upon the stage.”[1]  That drama, Michael Bonham, was originally published pseudonymously (by “A Southron”) in the Southern Literary Messenger from February to June 1852.  Richmond publisher, John R. Thompson, released it as a small pamphlet after its serial run in July 1852.[2]  The drama is based on James Butler Bonham, a South Carolina native and lieutenant in the Texas Calvary, who died ...
Norman Maurice; or, The Man of the People.  An American Drama in Five Acts.

Norman Maurice; or, The Man of the People. An American Drama in Five Acts.

Antebellum Period | Drama | John R. Thompson | 1851
                Throughout his long career, Simms was regularly concerned with theatre, though drama would always be the genre with which he had the least commercial and critical success.  Norman Maurice; or,The Man of the the People is perhaps Simms’s best dramatic work, though its failings are typical of his theatrical frustrations.  Norman Maurice was a lofty experiment, mixing contemporary politics with common language presented in the format of the Elizabethan tragedy.  Written in strict blank verse, Norman Maurice is a play in which the Constitutional and slavery questions that ...
Norman Maurice; or, The Man of the People.  An American Drama.

Norman Maurice; or, The Man of the People. An American Drama.

Antebellum Period | Drama | Walker and Richards | 1852
                Throughout his long career, Simms was regularly concerned with theatre, though drama would always be the genre with which he had the least commercial and critical success.  Norman Maurice; or,The Man of the the People is perhaps Simms’s best dramatic work, though its failings are typical of his theatrical frustrations.  Norman Maurice was a lofty experiment, mixing contemporary politics with common language presented in the format of the Elizabethan tragedy.  Written in strict blank verse, Norman Maurice is a play in which the Constitutional and slavery questions that ...
Sabbath Lyrics: A Christmas Gift of Love

Sabbath Lyrics: A Christmas Gift of Love

Antebellum Period | Poetry | Press of Walker and James | 1849
            Sabbath Lyrics is a collection of poems written by William Gilmore Simms based on Christian scripture.  The poems featured in this collection had been published previously in Godey’s throughout 1848 and 1849.[1]  These individual poems were published as a collection in 1849 by the Press of Walker and James in Charleston, SC.  Simms intended for this work to be, “a Christmas giftbook,” that people could give as a Christmas present to their loved ones.  His effort to find a printer for the work in July of 1849, however, was unsuccessful.[2]  In a letter to Nathaniel ...
Self-Development

Self-Development

Antebellum Period | Speech | The Thalian Society | 1847
            William Gilmore Simms was invited to give the oration, which would become Self-Development, by the Literary Societies of Oglethorpe University in Milledgeville, GA in 1847.  In consideration of his student audience, Simms took as his theme the nature and progress of the individual, especially in relation to his function within God’s plan.  The title quality, according to the author, is about recognizing one’s God-given potentials and subsequently nurturing and expressing them in action.  Everybody has inborn strengths and aptitudes; self-development is the art of fully ...
The Cassique of Accabee. Tale of Ashley River. With Other Pieces by William Gilmore Simms.

The Cassique of Accabee. Tale of Ashley River. With Other Pieces by William Gilmore Simms.

Antebellum Period | Poetry | John Russell | 1849
      The Cassique of Accabee, a volume of poetry by William Gilmore Simms, features one long narrative poem, which shares its title with the book.  The volume also contains a section of shorter poems.  These poems were all previously published in other forms before they appeared in this collection,[1] published by John Russell in 1849 in Charleston, South Carolina.  As James Kibler notes, the volume was completely printed by September 19, 1849, but copies were still being bound around September 27, 1849.[2]  Kibler observes further that subsequent copies of the work, all of which were ...
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 Geography of South Carolina

The Geography of South Carolina

Antebellum Period | 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 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

Antebellum Period | History | S. Babcock & Co. | 1842
            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 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

Antebellum Period | 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 Letters of William Gilmore Simms. Vol. 2

The Letters of William Gilmore Simms. Vol. 2

Antebellum Period | Correspondence | U of South Carolina P | 1953
            In his lifetime, William Gilmore Simms “was the author of thirty-four works of fiction, nineteen volumes of poetry, three of drama, three anthologies, three volumes of history, two of geography, six of biography, and twelve of reviews, miscellanies and addresses, a total of eighty-two volumes.”[1]  The estimate of the output was impressive, if not quite complete.[2]  Regardless, Simms’s influence was unparalleled.  No mid-nineteenth-century writer and editor did more to frame white southern self-identity and nationalism, shape southern historical consciousness, or foster ...
The Prima Donna:  A Passage From City Life

The Prima Donna: A Passage From City Life

Antebellum Period | Short Stories | Louis A. Godey | 1844
         While one of the more obscure works in Simms’s canon, The Prima Donna:  A Passage from City Life, provides an intriguing look into his relationship with the serial publishers who published so much of his work.  It is also a noteworthy work for its content.  Biographer John C. Guilds finds that it  reflects Simms’s “interest in theater” and helps to demonstrate that the author “wrote more effectively about drama than he wrote drama itself.”[1] A brief, 24-page fiction published as a standalone book by Louis A. Godey in 1844, The Prima Donna was originally composed sometime ...
The Social Principle

The Social Principle

Antebellum Period | 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, ...
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 ...