Wlliam Gilmore Simms
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Scholarship | 2007
Transcription In Memoriam. Simms Society Founding Member

Posted on Tue, Mar. 20. 2007

James B. Meriwether

COLUMBIA -- The Burial Office and Requiem Mass for the repose of James B.
Meriwether's soul will be offered Thursday at 2 p.m. at the Anglican Church of the
Epiphany. Following the service, the family will receive friends at the residence of Robert
0. Meriwether. Burial will be at a later date in the family graveyard in McCormick. Dunbar
Funeral Home, Devine Street Chapel, is assisting the family.

Mr. Meriwether, 78, died peacefully Sunday, March 18, 2007, at his home following long-
term complications from cardiac surgery. He was surrounded by his children and
grandchildren. A professor of English retired from the University of South Carolina, he
was an internationally respected academic whose life embodied the old-fashioned ideals
of the scholar and the gentleman. Born in Columbia, he was the son of the late historian
Robert Lee Meriwether and Margaret Woods Babcock Meriwether. He attended
University High School where he played violin in the USC orchestra and was a member
of the varsity basketball team. He was also awarded University High's first letter in track,
partly in recognition of his setting the state record in the 220-yard dash in 1945.

At the University of South Carolina he lettered in cross-country and track, holding the
position of third man in the state record-setting one-mile relay team. After completing his
MA at Princeton University in Elizabethan Literature, he served for three years in the
Army Security Agency during the Korean War, teaching Army Intelligence and Military
History. He wrote his Ph.D. dissertation at Princeton on William Faulkner, beginning a
career that took him to Texas, Chapel Hill, and finally back to his alma mater, where he
was named McClintock Professor of Southern Letters: Over the next thirty years at USC
he founded the Southern Studies Program and served as its first director, supervised
forty Ph.D. dissertations and dozens of MA theses, and wrote and edited more than thirty
books and more than two dozen articles on American, Southern and British literature. He
balanced his scholarship with a keen sense of humor, which informed his short stories, all
published pseudonymously. Hailed as the father of modem Faulkner scholarship by
British scholar Michael Millgate, Mr. Meriwether served as editor of Faulkner's last three
novels and as senior consulting editor of the Garland series of Faulkner manuscripts. He
was also known for his work on a wide range of literary and historical topics, lecturing
throughout the U.S. and in more than twenty foreign countries. His wide circle of literary
friendships included writers as diverse as Faulkner, Shelby Foote, James Gould
Cozzens, and P.G. Wodehouse, and his correspondence with some spanned fifty years.
He won numerous awards, including a Guggenheim and two Fulbrights, although he any
have been most proud of the titles he won in thirty years of tournament badminton

Appointed by President Reagan to the U.S. Information Agency's Board of Foreign
Scholarships, responsible for administering the Fulbright Program, he served that body
for eight years, including as vice chairman and chairman.

Mr. Meriwether was a member of the New York Athletic Club, the Palmetto Club, Phi
Beta Kappa, and a founder of the Loblolly Society and the Arturo Toscanini Society.

Mr. Meriwether is survived by five children and five grandchildren. He was predeceased
by his wife, Nancy Callcott Meriwether, to whom he was married for thirty-three years.

Memorials may be made to the Robert L. and Margaret B. Meriwether South Caroliniana
Library Fund, USC Educational Foundation, 1600 Hampton St., Columbia, SC 29208.