Wlliam Gilmore Simms
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Secondary Scholarship | 1999
Transcription Simms and Major Henry


Ed Piacentino



Little is actually known about the relationship between Simms and James
Edward Henry (best known by his contemporaries as Major Henry), a prominent
citizen of Spartanburg, South Carolina, distinguished lawyer, long-time state
legislator, and sometime writer who contributed to the Magnolia, both before and
during Simms's tenure as editor. In fact, Henry's chief contribution to the
Magnolia (then known as The Southern Ladies' Book) was Tales of the
Packolette, the first installment being "Auto-biography of a Married Man," a
humorous piece about marital conflict which appeared in the December 1840
issue. The Editor's Table section of the Magnolia in the May 1841 issue
announced the commencement of Tales of the Packolette, which were published
anonymously and pseudonymously, noting that "they have been furnished by a
distinguished correspondent, whose pen has often ministered to the amusement
and instruction of the readers of the leading Magazines of the country" (240).1
Subsequently, in the July 1841 number of the Magnolia, the editor actually
described the anonymous author of Tales of the Packolette as being one more
inclined to literary than to legal endeavors, going on to identify him as "a member
of the South Carolina Bar, now ranking among the seniors of the profession
whose love for literature and literary pursuits has often seduced him from the
claims of Chitty and Blackstone" (335). In the same issue, in an anonymous
letter, whose context points to Henry as the author, he wrote the editor of the

1 Guilds, Simms, 137, notes that during his tenure as editor of the Magnolia,
Simms urged would-be contributors to submit their articles unsigned or under
pseudonyms. Simms advocated this practice so that it would benefit young and
inexperienced writers from having to compete with better known and well
established authors. Among the pseudonyms Henry used in Tales of the
Packolette are Colonel Jonathan Butterball, Professor Mark Anthony Ponder, Mr.
Horace Fiedler Smith, Esq., Captain Andy McPhitters, and H. J. DeK.


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