Works of William Gilmore Simms

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Simms also wrote eight novels set in South Carolina during the American Revolutionary War , beginning with The Partisan , which was perhaps Simms's most-read novel, [5] and Katharine Walton Finally, Simms wrote ten novels dealing with the expansion into the frontier territory from Georgia to Louisiana, such as Richard Hurdis; or, the Avenger of Blood. It and "Paddy Magann" constitute his two full-length works of Southern humor; he also wrote "Sharp Snaffles" and "Bill Bauldy," two splendid tall tales that rank among the best works produced in the field of Southern or Old Southwestern humor.

He also wrote poetry and, in a letter to literary critic and poet Rufus Wilmot Griswold , Simms said that he was not interested in form as much as content, torn "between the desire to appear correct, and the greater desire to be original and true". Simms was one of the most respected historians of his day. His History of South Carolina served for several generations as the standard school textbook on the state's history. Additionally, Simms was a popular lecturer on American history; he accumulated one of the largest collections of Revolutionary War manuscripts in the country.

Most of this collection was lost when stragglers from Sherman's army burned his plantation home Woodlands near the Georgia border. Simms is also remembered today for his strong support of slavery ; he was part of a "sacred circle" of southern intellectuals including Edmund Ruffin , James Henry Hammond , Nathaniel Beverley Tucker , and George Frederick Holmes.

Reading William Gilmore Simms

Together they published numerous articles calling for moral reform of the South, including a stewardship role of masters in relation to slavery. Even though The Sword and the Distaff was published only a few months after Stowe's novel, it contains a number of sections and discussions that are clearly debating Stowe's book and view of slavery. The novel focuses on the Revolutionary War and its aftermath through the lives of Captain Porgy and one of his slaves.


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Many of Simms' other writings took a similar pro-slavery viewpoint. Simms' book was one of between twenty and thirty Anti-Tom novels written after Stowe's book. These novels tended to feature a benign white patriarchal master and pure wife, both of whom presided over childlike slaves in a benevolent extended-family-style plantation. Simms' novel was popular enough that it was reprinted in under the title Woodcraft.

In Simms' later years, he became part of the Southern planter class and firmly supported slavery and Southern secession. He served in the state House of Representatives in —, after which he was defeated in the election for lieutenant governor by only one vote.

William Gilmore Simms

His plantation home Woodlands was destroyed by stragglers from Sherman's army when it entered South Carolina, although Sherman had explicitly told his troops not to harm Simms's home. Save for "Paddy Magann," he wrote little after the Civil War, though he compiled an anthology of Southern war poems in He is buried in Magnolia Cemetery. By the mids, Simms's fame for his novels was so great that Edgar Allan Poe declared Simms to be "The best novelist which this country has, on the whole, produced" [14] and "immeasurably the greatest writer of fiction in America".

Today Simms' novels are, for the most part, out of print. Simms scholar Dr.

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David Aiken, a founding member of the pro-secessionist group The League of the South , has observed that Simms was purged from the canon of American literature because of the "unpardonable sin Simms committed when he published an account of Columbia, South Carolina's destruction in which he dared to deny the North a righteous victory. This is literary murder".

He continues to be known, however, among literary scholars and historians as a major force in Antebellum literature and a leading intellectual. In fact, during recent years, a "Simms Renascence" has begun to take place. Scholars such as Dr. James E.

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Simms, William Gilmore

Kibler, Dr. Watson, and the late John C. Guilds have produced important books about Simms. Forged from a partnership between a university press and a library, Project MUSE is a trusted part of the academic and scholarly community it serves. Built on the Johns Hopkins University Campus. This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.

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Grayling; or Murder Will Out by William Gilmore Simms. Part 13 of 22 - Jill Weber

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