Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Voltmeier; or, The Mountain Men >> Voltmeier; or, The Mountain Men >> Front Matter

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Front Matter

Novel (Romance) | U of South Carolina P | 1969

Introduction

           Judging by a letter he wrote to his friend Evert Augustus Duyckinck in December 1868, William Gilmore Simms considered Voltmeier, his forthcoming Mountain Romance, to be, “in some respects, one of the most remarkable books I have ever written,” and “among the most excellent of my prose writings.”[1]  Part of the Border Romance series, the novel was inspired by the story of the infamous Allen Twitty, “a highly respected member of a prominent family noted for public service,” whose indictment and sensational trials for counterfeiting between 1805 and 1815 became a cause célèbre for North Carolina residents.  Simms seemed to develop an interest in Twitty when he took an 1847 hunting trip with friends in the Appalachian Mountains.[2] Excerpts from his journal entries on this trip reveal that Simms visited the house and farm of Twitty; twenty years later, he would draw from this research to write Voltmeier.[3]  The novel centers upon the title character, Leonard Voltmeier, who lives a double life.  In the public eye, Voltmeier rides a white horse (literally) as an aristocratic planter of the Keovala estate, lover of music and literature, and father to the beautiful Mignon; his criminal persona, Bierstadt or Old Grizzly, rides a black horse as the leader of a secret counterfeit operation and a band of robbers on the frontier. 

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