Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Damsel of Darien >> The Damsel of Darien >> Chapter I: The Meeting of the Warriors

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Chapter I: The Meeting of the Warriors

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]  In a 16 June 1839 letter, Simms indicated that he had finished Damsel, calling it “a romance based upon the events in the early history of the American settlements of Spain […] and as the name somewhat implies, the scene is partly laid upon the isthmus of Darien and the material is drawn from the events attending the discovery by Vasco Nunez.”  This letter was written to James Kirke Paulding, regarded by Simms as “one among the successful of our native authors,—as indeed, one of the fathers of our forest literature,—a leading Pioneer.”[3]  Simms dedicated The Damsel of Darien to Paulding to show his appreciation for a “champion in the field of national literature” that he believed to be mistreated by critics.[4]