Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 11: No 2) >> A New Simms Letter >> Page 2

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Correspondence | 2003
Transcription A NEW SIMMS LETTER

James Everett Kibler
University of Georgia

In April 2003, Todd Mueller Autographs of Dallas, Texas, offered this Simms letter for
sale on EBAY. Tipped off by Simms Society member Paul Christian Jones, James Kibler,
with the help of Mr Clark Williams of Watkinsville, Georgia, successfully bid and won this
item. It was acquired by Mueller. from the Manhattan estate of Robert Tollett, a sale that
yielded 2,500 pounds of manuscripts still to be sorted.
Research has not conclusively identified the addressee. The most likely candidate,
however, is George O. Brown (c. 1845 — 1910) of Richmond, Virginia, who operated a
successful portrait studio in Richmond from the late 1860s through the turn of the century. He
is listed in the Smithsonian's "Reflections in Black," an exhibit of African American
photography, 1842 -1942. Brown's photographs documented black life in Richmond and the
surrounding counties. His early works focused on portraiture. The Brown family studio,
operated by his children after his death, was prominent in Richmond until 1977.
A query to Simmsians: Does the "plantation Album" Simms mentions in this letter still
exist? If so, does a photograph (Brown's `counterfeit presentiment' of which Simms writes
here) appear in its pages? The presence of a photo of an African American man of about 23
years of age would be further evidence that George O. Brown here addressed is the Richmond
photographer. If it is he, the letter takes on even more significance.
Fortunately, the folded creases in the pictured reproduction of the manuscript yielded the
missing words when the actual manuscript arrived. Here follows the transcription.

Geo. O. Brown, Esq. Charleston, S.C. April 30. 1868

Dear Sir:

My labours are so oppressive & so exhaustive, that, apart from
professional writing, I can afford but little leisure for the practice; and I am now
endeavouring, as much as possible, to abridge my correspondence. But, as I have
made it a rule for forty years, to answer all letters that approached me respectfully, I
cheerfully comply with your request. I have no copies of my photograph left that I
can lay hands upon, and, with leonine head of hair, & beard, from which the pepper
has all disappeared, leaving nothing but the salt, my aspect is hardly such as to
commend itself to either of the genders, whether for study or admiration. I thank you
for your own 'counterfeit presentiment,' which I shall be pleased to put into my
plantation Album, as that of one who is gracious enough to admit that I have given
him a pleasure.
I am very respectfully,
Your obt. serv.

W. Gilmore Simms.