Wlliam Gilmore Simms
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Scholarship | 2005
Transcription The Golden Christmas

A Tale of Lowcountry Life

William Gilmore Simms
Introduction by David Aiken
Rife with historical details and peppered with comic characters, The Golden Christmas
remains a timeless tale of South Carolina's rich holiday heritage. Originally published
in 1852, William Gilmore Sinuns's classic lowcountry romance chronicles the social
customs and Christmas traditions of an antebellum plantation near Charleston.
Drawing influence from Romeo and Juliet and A Christmas Carol, Simms centers
his plot on the pride of a Huguenot family, the prejudice of an English family, and the
plight of star-crossed lovers, Ned Bulmer and Paula Bonneau, to win the blessings of
both feuding houses amid a festive and frantic holiday season. Simms populates his
novel with a lively cast—a learned Northern professor, a young English nobleman, opin-
ionated widows, a blustery plantation owner, a condescending servant, a pig-thieving
coachman, and a good-hearted barrister.
Interwoven into the text are engrossing details about the lavish decorations and
festivities that were the hallmark of Christmas celebrations in the antebellum South.
Vibrant fireworks, candles nestled in holly, games of whist and backgammon, Yule logs,
eggnog, and a visit from Father Chrystmasse all play their parts as the narrative unfolds.
Here, too, are accurate descriptions of dress, dialogue, recreation, cultural mores, social
hierarchy, and a vivid tableau of a shopping trip to Charleston's King, Queen, and
Meeting streets in the I850s.
Equal parts novel of manners and comic romance, The Golden Christmas is now,
as it has always been, a holiday gift to lovers of Southern lore from South Carolina's
most famous author. This edition includes an introduction by Simms historian David