Strangers to Us All Lawyers and Poetry

William Gilmore Simms

South Carolina Poet Laureate

Brady-Handy Photograph Collection
Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

Evert A. & George L. Duyckinck, The Cyclopedia of American Literature 257 (Philadelphia: William Rutter & Co., 1880)(Vol. 2):

[William Gilmore Simms] is a native of Charleston, South Carolina. He was born April 17, 1806. His father, who bore the same name, was of Scoto-Irish descent, and his mother, Harriet Ann Augusta Singleton, was of a Virginia family, which came early to the state and was found in the Revolutionary times on the Whig side. William Gilmore Simms, the elder, having failed in Charleston as a merchant, removed to Tennessee, where he held a commission in Coffee's brigade of mounted men, under the command of Jackson, employed in the Indian war against the Creeks and Seminoles. His wife died while our author, the second son, was in his infancy, and he was left in the absence of his father to the care of his grandmother. Though his early education derived little aid from the pecuniary means of his family, which were limited, and though he had not the benefit of early classical training, yet the associations of this part of his life were neither unhappy nor unproductive, while his energy of character and richly endowed intellect were marking out an immediate path of mental activity and honor. Choosing the law for a profession, he was admitted to the bar at Charleston at the age of twenty-one. He did not long practise the profession, but turned its peculiar training to the uses of a literary life. His first active engagement was in the editorship of a daily newspaper, the Charleston City Gazette, in which he opposed the prevailing doctrines of nullification; he write with industry and spirit, but being interested in the paper as its proprietor, and the enterprise proving unsuccessful, he was stripped by its failure of the limited patrimony he had embarked in it.

The commencement of his career as an author had preceded this. He wrote verses at eight years of age, and first appeared before the public as a poet, in the publication, about 1825, of a Monody on Gen. Charles Cotesworth Pinckney. A volume, Lyrical and other Poems, appeared from his pen, in 1827, at Charleston, followed by Early Lays the same year. Another volume, The Vision of Cortes, Cain, and other Poems, appeared in 1829, and the next year a celebration, in verse, of the French Revolution of 1830, The Tricolor, or Three Days of Blood in Paris.

In 1832 Simms visited New York and became acquainted with the growing literary circle emerging in that city. Upon the death of his wife, Simms remarried, this time to a daughter of a wealthy planter and was elected to the state legislature. Simms was also a novelist and essayist, but foremost a poet, and an acclaimed one.

Harper's Weekly
July 2, 1870 — p. 420


In the death of Mr. Simms , on the 11th of June, at Charleston, the country has lost one more of its time-honored band of authors, and the South the most consistent and devoted of her literary sons. Born in 1806, of a good family,
though not among the wealthy proprietors of the State, Mr. Simms grew up under favorable influences of culture, which were not thrown away upon his ingenuous, lively disposition. He early acquired a taste for reading, and some knowledge of the modern languages. The assistance which he received, however, was but slight. The self-reliance and energy with which he marked
out and pursued his career proclaim him essentially a self-made man. He studied law, and was admitted to the bar at the age of twenty-one; but the real bent of his disposition was shown in the same year in the publication of two small
volumes of lyrical poems at Charleston. Several others followed, and in 1832 he fairly began his career as an author by profession with the publication at New York, by the Messrs. Harper, of "Atalantis," an imaginative poem-a
tale of the sea-of considerable merit. The next year appeared his first prose romance, "Martin Faber," from the same house, followed by "Guy Rivers,""The Yemassee," the precursors of a host of novels from his pen, running along the
next thirty years. During all this period, and to the end of his life, Mr. Simms 's pen was never idle. Not only were his novels varied in character and subject, embracing several distinct classes of works of fiction, but his poetical productions were numerous; he wrote dramas, histories of
his native State, several volumes of biography, of Marion, General Greene, and others; furnished multitudinous essays and critical articles to many periodicals, himself editing several, from the quarterly to the weekly newspaper; delivered also various public orations and addresses; in fine, was one of the most indefatigable authors of this or any age. All this work was done under the influence of a commanding genius, seconded by great physical powers. It bore
the marks of thought and study. Its author had a genuine love of letters, the passion of his life. For this he turned aside from the immediate rewards of political life, almost irresistible at the South to one of his oratorical powers and ardent temperament. In fact, there have been few examples in the country of
so exclusive and persistent a pursuit of literature. The temper of mind which led him to this was essentially poetic and speculative. Though best known to the public as a novelist, he would, we believe, greatly have preferred to devote his powers to imaginative compositions in verse, with the lyrical predominant. His works of fiction are colored with this romantic element. Through how many kindling pages has he pursued his favorite topic, the exercise of the magination in
the culture of the beautiful, which with him meant love, reverence, the virtues for time and eternity! His last appearance in public, only a few weeks ago, leaving a couch of sickness for the effort, was to deliver an address before the Charleston County Horticultural Society, instinct with these ideas of his life. It is entitled, "The Sense of the Beautiful." Affection with full hand can sprinkle no choicer flowers upon his grave than the lilies and amaranthine blooms reared in the eye of heaven in this his own noble death-song.

In his personal character, a man of singular simplicity and straightforwardness, of sound principles and honest impulses, ready in sympathy, friendly to the young, and where he was best known-in his family-of peculiar devotion and tenderness. His religious affections, tried by many domestic losses and severe privations, bore a lofty spirit of reverence and profound submission to the Divine will. We mention these traits now, for at his newly made grave the moral
must take precedence of the intellectual; and they were qualities not always looked for by those at a distance, who, in the heat of national controversy, made but a rough estimate of the man. Those best acquainted with him, apart from the tribute which they may render to his writings, will ever regard tenderly and affec-
tionately the memory of William Gilmore Simms .

William Gilmore Simms
Encyclopedia of Southern Culture

William Gilmore Simms
Early American Fiction
University of Virginia

William Gilmore Simms
Evert A. Duyckinck, Cyclopaedia of American Literature

Poets of the Civil War: Simms
Cambridge History of English and American Literature

William Gilmore Simms

William Gilmore Simms

Edgar Allen Poe on Simms

Simms, William Gilmore, 1806-1870

Simms The Southerner

Charleston and Its Poets: Simms

Bamberg County
South Carolina

Buried at Magnolia Cemetery

Introduction to Literature: Antebellum Era
Documenting the American South
University of North Carolina


The Grape-Vine Swing

The Bard

Song in March

The Lost Pleiad

The Lost Pleiad

By the Swanannoa

The New Moon

Blessings on Children

Scene From Atalantis

The Decay of a People

The Edge of the Swamp

The Swamp Fox

The Swamp Fox


William Gilmore Simms, Lyrical and Other Poems (Charleston: Ellis & Neufville, 1827)

__________________, Early Lays (Charleston: A. E. Miller, 1827)

__________________, The Vision of Cortes, Cain, and Other Poems (Charleston: James S. Burges, 1829)

__________________, The Tri-Color (London: Wigfall & Davis, 1830) [online text]

__________________, Southern Passages and Pictures (New York: George Adlard, 1839) [online text]

___________________, Donna Florida (Charleston: Burges and James, 1843)

__________________, Helen Halsey: or, The Wwamp State of Conelachita. A Tale of the Borders (New York: Burgess, Stringer, 1845)(1844)

__________________, Grouped Thoughts and Scattered Fancies (Richmond: William Macfarlane, 1845) [online text]

__________________, The Charleston Book: A Miscellany in Prose and Verse (Charleston [South Carolina]: S. Hart, Sen., 1845)

__________________, Areytos, or, Songs of the South (Charleston: Russell & Jones, 1846)

__________________, Lays of The Palmetto (Charleston: John Russell, 1848) [online text]

__________________, Sabbath Lyrics: or, Songs from Scripture. A Christmas Gift of Love (Charleston: Walker and James, 1849) [online text]

__________________, The Cassique of Accabee: A Tale of Ashley River. With other pieces (New York: G.P. Putnam, 1849) [online text] (Charleston: J. Russell, 1849)

__________________, The City of the Silent (Charleston: Walker & James, 1850)

__________________, Poems: Descriptive, Dramatic, Legendary and Contemplative (New York: Redfield, 1853)(2 vols.) [vol.1: online text]

__________________, Areytos or Songs and Ballads of the South with other Poems (Charleston, South Carolina: Russell & Jones, 1860) [online text]

__________________, Selected Poems of William Gilmore Simms (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1990)(James Everett Kibler, Jr. ed.)


Mary C. Simms Oliphant, Alfred Taylor Odell, & T.C. Duncan Eaves (eds.), The Letters of William Gilmore Simms (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1952-1982)(6 vols.)

"Woodlands"—Simm's Home near Barnwell, South Carolina
engraving from a drawing by T.A. Richards

Little Journeys: To the Homes of American Authors
(New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1896)


William Gilmore Simms, The Tri-color; or, The Three Days of Blood, in Paris. With some other pieces (London: Wigfall & Davis, 1830)

__________________, Atalantis A Story of the Sea: In Three Oarts (New York: J. & J. Harper, 1832)

__________________, Martin Farber (New York: J. & J. Harper, 1833) [online text]

__________________, The Remains of Maynard Davis Richardson: With a Memoir of His Life (Charleston, South Carolina: O.A. Roorback, 1833) [online text]

__________________, The Book of My Lady: A Melange (Boston: Allen & Ticknor, 1833)

__________________, The Partisan: A Tale of the Revolution (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1835)(2 vols.) [vol. 1: online text]

__________________, Mellichampe. A Legend of the Santee (New York: Harper & Bros., 1836)

__________________, Pelayo: A Story of the Goth (New York: Harper & Bros., 1838)

__________________, Carl Werner, an Imaginative Story: With Other Tales of Imagination (New York: George Adlard, 1838)(2 vols.) [vol.1: online text][vol. 2: online text]

__________________, Richard Hurdis (Philadelphia: E. L. Carey & A. Hart, 1838) [vol. 1: online text] [ vol. 2: online text]

__________________, Confession, or, The Blind Heart a Domestic Story (Philadelphia: Lea and Blanchard, 1841)

__________________, The Kinsmen, or, The Black Riders of Congaree a tale (Philadelphia: Lea and Blanchard, 1841)

__________________, Beauchampe; or, the Kentucky Tragedy (Philadelphia: Lea and Blanchard, 1842)(Chicago: S.A. Maxwell & Co., New & Revised ed., 1888) [online text] (New York: AMS Press, 1970)

__________________, The Magnolia, or, Southern Apalachian (Charleston, South Carolina: P.C. Pendleton, and Burges & James, 1842-1843)

__________________, The Geography of South Carolina: Being a Companion to the History of that State by William Gilmore Simms (Charleston, South Carolina: Babcock & Co., 1843)

__________________, The Prima Donna: A Passage from City Life (Philadelphia: Louis A. Godey, 1844)

__________________, Castle Dismal; or, The Bachelor's Christmas: A Domestic Legend (New York: Burgess, Stringer, 1844)

__________________, The Yemassee: A Romance of Carolina (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1844) [online text] (Chicago: Belford, Clarke & Co., New & Revised ed., 1885) [online text]

__________________, The Wigwam and the Cabin (New York: Wiley and Putnam, 1845)

[online text, vol. 1; online text, vol. 2; New York: Wiley and Putnam, 1845] [review of The Wigwam and the Cabin by Edgar Allen Poe]

__________________, Grouped Thoughts and Scattered Fancies (Richmond: Printed by Wm. Macfarlane, 1845)

__________________, Views and Reviews in American Literature, History, and Fiction (New York: Wiley and Putnam, 1845) [online text]

__________________, The Charleston Book: A Miscellany in Prose and Verse (Charleston [South Carolina]: S. Hart, Sen., 1845)

__________________, Count Julian, or, The Last Days of the Goth a Historical Romance (Baltimore: W. Taylor, 1845)

__________________, The Life of Francis Marion (New York: J. & H.G. Langley, 1846) [online text]

__________________, The Life of the Chevalier Bayard (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1847) [online text]

__________________, Charleston and Her Satirists (Charleston: Printed by James S. Burges, 1848)

__________________, Atalantis: A Story of the Sea (Philadelphia: Carey and Hart, 1848) [online text]

__________________, Life in America; or, The Wigwam and the Cabin (Aberdeen: G. Clark and Son, 1848)

__________________, Father Abbot; or, The Home Tourist A medley...
(Charleston, South Carolina: Printed by Miller & Browne, 1849)

__________________, The Lily and the Totem, or, The Huguenots in Florida (New York: Baker and Scribner, 1850)

__________________, Flirtation at the Moultrie House in a Series of Letters from Miss Georgiana, to her Friends in Georgia ... with other letters (Charleston [South Carolina] : Printed by Edward C. Councell, 1850)

__________________, Norman Maurice, Or, The Man of the People an American Drama in Five Acts (Richmond: Jno. R. Thompson, 1851)

__________________, Katharine Walton: or, The Rebel of Dorchester (Philadelphia: A. Hart, 1851)

__________________, As Good as a Comedy: or, The Tennesseean's Story
(Philadelphia: A. Hart, 1852)

__________________, The Golden Christmas (Charleston: Walker, Richards and Co., 1852)

__________________, Michael Bonham; or, The Fall of Bexar, a Tale of Texas, in five parts (Richmond: J.R. Thompson, 1852)

__________________, As Good as a Comedy, or, The Tennessean's Story
(Philadelphia: A. Hart, 1852)

__________________, The Sword and the Distaff: Or, "Fair, Fat and Forty." A Story of the Sout, at the Close of the Revolution (Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo & Co., 1853) [online text]

__________________, Marie de Berniere: A Tale of the Crescent City, Etc. Etc. Etc (Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo, and Co., 1853) [online text]

__________________, Egeria: Or Voices of Thought and Counsel, for the Woods and Wayside (Philadelphia: E.H. Butler & Co., 1853) [online text]

__________________, Norman Maurice; Or, The Man of the People. An American Drama.: An American Drama (Philadelphia: LIppincott, Grambo, & Co., 1853)

__________________, The Scout: Or, The Black Riders of Congaree (New YorkL: Redfield, New and rev. ed., 1854)

__________________, Woodcraft: Or, Hawks about the Dovecote, a Story of the South at the Close of the Revolution (New York: Redfield, 1854)

__________________, The Forayers; or, The raid of the dog-days (New York: Redfield, 1855) [online text]

__________________, Charlemont: or, the Pride of the Village—A Tale of Kentucky (New York: Redfield, 1856)(New York: W.J. Widdleton, 1866)

[online text, vol. 1, 1842; online text, vol. 2; Philadelphia: Lea & Blanchard]

__________________, Eutaw, a Sequel to the Forayers (New York: Redfield, 1856)

__________________, The Cassique of Kiawah: A Colonial Romance
(New York: Butler Brothers, 1859) [online text]

__________________, The History of South Carolina from Its First European Discovery to Its Erection Into a Republic (New York: Redfield, New and Revised ed., 1860) [online text]

__________________, The Life of Nathanael Greene, Major-general in the Army of the Revolution (New York: Derby & Jackson, 1861) [online text]

__________________, Sack and Destruction of the City of Columbia, S.C. (Power Press of Daily Phoenix, 1865)(Columbia, South Carolina: Oglethorpe University Press, 1937)

__________________ (ed.), War Poetry Of The South (Richardson & Company, 1867) [online text]

__________________, The Life of Captain John Smith: The Founder of Virginia (J.E. Potter & Co., 1867)

__________________, Vasconselos: A Romance of the New World (New York: W.J. Widdleton, 1868) [online text]

__________________, Eutaw, a Sequel to the Forayers: Or, The Raid of the Dog-days, a Tale of the (New York: A.C. Armstrong & Son, 1882) [online text]

__________________, Border Beagles: A Tale of Mississippi (Chicago: Donohue, Henneberry & Co., 1890) [online text]

__________________, Stories and Tales (Columbia, South Carolina: S.C. : University of South Carolina Press, Centennial ed., 1974)

__________________, Joscelyn: A Tale of the Revolution (Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press, Centennial ed., 1975)

__________________, Poetry and the Practical (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1996)(James E. Kibler ed.)

__________________, The Forayers or the Raid of the Dog Days: Selected Fiction of William Gilmore Simms (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2003)(David W. Newton ed.)


John Erskine, Leading American Novelists (New York: Henry Holt, 1910)(including a section on Simms)

John Caldwell Guilds, Simms: A Literary Life (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press,1992)

________________, Long Years of Neglect: The Work and Reputation of William Gilmore Simms (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1988)

John C. Guilds & Caroline Collins (eds.), William Gilmore Simms and the American Frontier (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1997) [book review]

James E. Kibler, Jr. & Keen Butterworth, William Gilmore Simms: A Reference Guide (1980)

James E. Kibler, Jr., The Poetry of William Gilmore Simms: An Introduction and Bibliography (Spartanburg, South Carolina: Published for the Southern Studies Program, University of South Carolina, Reprint Co., 1979)

_______________, Pseudonymous Publications of William Gilmore Simms
(Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1976)

Samuel Albert Link, Pioneers of Southern Literature: William Gilmore Simms, The Novelist, the Poet (Nashville: Barbee & Smith, 1896)

_______________, Pseudonymous Publications of William Gilmore Simms (Athens: University of Georgia Press Press, 1976)

Edd Winfield Parks, William Gilmore Simms as Literary Critic (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1961)

J.V. Ridgely, William Gilmore Simms (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1962)

A.S. Salley, Catalogue of the Salley Collection of the Works of Wm. Gilmore Simms (New York: B. Franklin, 1969)

Carol Therese Steinhagen, Plantation and Wilderness: Themes of Aggression and Regression in the Border Romances of William Gilmore Simms (Thesis, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 1974)

Betty Jo Strickland, The Short Fiction of William Gilmore Simms A Critical Description and Checklist (Ph.D. thesis, University of Georgia, 1975)

William Peterfield Trent, William Gilmore Simms (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1892) [online text]

James Perrin Warren, Culture of Eloquence: Oratory and Reform in Antebellum America (University Park, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999)

Charles S. Watson, From Nationalism to Secessionism: The Changing Fiction of William Gilmore Simms (______________1993)

Mary Ann Wimsatt, The Major Fiction of William Gilmore Simms: Cultural Traditions and Literary Form (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1989)

Bibliography: Articles

George C. Longest, "William Gilmore Simms," in Eric L. Haralson (ed.), Encyclopedia of American Poetry: The Nineteenth Century (Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 1998)

"William Gilmore Simms," in Samuel Albert Link, 1 Pioneers of Southern Literature 149-221 (Nashville, Tennessee & Dallas, Texas: Publishing House M.E. Church, South, Barber & Smith, Agents, 1899)(Vol. 1)

John C. Guilds, "The Achievement of William Gilmore Simms: His Short Fiction," in Lewis P. Simpson (ed.), The Poetry of Community: Essays on the Southern Sensibility of History and Literature (Atlanta: School of Arts and Sciences, George State University, 1972)

Elmo Howell, William Gilmore Simms and the American Indian, 5 (2) South Carolina Review __ (1973)

Edgar Allan Poe, Review of Simms' The Partisan, Southern Literary Messenger (January, 1836)

Jon L. Wakelyn, The Politics of a Literary Man: William Gilmore Simms (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1973)

Charles S. Watson, Simms and the Civil War: The Revolutionary Analogy, 24 (2) Southern Literary Journal 62 (1992)

Oscar Wegelin, A Bibliography of William Gilmore Simms (Hattiesburg, Mississippi, 3rd ed., 1941)

Mary Ann Wimsatt, "William Gilmore Simms," in Louis D. Rubin (gen ed.), The History of Southern Literature 108-117 (Baton Rogue, Louisiana State University Press, 1985)

Simms's Poem for the Opening of the New Theatre, 28 Southern Literary Journal 24-31 (Spring, 1996)

A Sociology of the Civil War: Simms's Paddy McGann, 28 Southern Literary Journal 3-23 (Spring 1996)

"The Soul of a Man!": William Gilmore Simms and the Myths of Southern Manhood. 15 Journal of the Early Republic 477-500 (Fall 1995)

Some Unrecorded English Reviews of W. G. Simms, 47 Mississippi Quarterly 557-66 (Fall 1994)

The Major Fiction of William Gilmore Simms (Book Review), 99 Sewanee Review 483-490 (Summer 1991)

The Reconstruction of a Poet (Book Review), 44 Mississippi Quarterly 203-207 (Spring 1991)

The Major Fiction of William Gilmore Simms (Book Review), 62 American Literature 110-111 (March 1990)

The Major Fiction of William Gilmore Simms (Book Review), 9 Journal of the Early Republic 403-404 (Fall 1989)

William Gilmore Simms and Current Literary Criticism (Review Article), 43 Mississippi Quarterly 105-108 (Wiinter 1989/1990)

The Major Fiction of William Gilmore Simms (Review), 43 Mississippi Quarterly 85-95 (Winter 1989/1990)

That National Story: Conflicting Versions and Conflicting Visions of the Revolution in Kennedy's Horse-Shoe Robinson and Simms's The Partisan, 21 Southern Literary Journal 64-85 (Fall 1988)

The First Simms Letters: Letters from the West (1826), 19 Southern Literary Journal 81-91 (Spring 1987)

The Maturing of Simms's Short Fiction: The Example of Oakatibbe, 38 Mississippi Quarterly 99-117 (Spring 1985)

Simms's Last Novel, The Cub of the Panther, 17 Southern Literary Journal 108-119 (Spring 1985)

The Letters of William Gilmore Simms, 1834-1870 (Book Review, Volume 6), 30 Civil War History 177-178 (June 30, 1984)

Letters of William Gilmore Simms, 1834-1870 (Book Review, Volume 6), 37 Mississippi Quarterly 120-123 (Winter 1983/1984)

James E. Kibler, Sound and Sense in Simms' Poetry, 31 (2) Southern Literary Journal 12-18 (1999)

Evert A. & George L. Duyckinck, The Cyclopedia of American Literature 259
(Philadelphia: William Rutter & Co., 1880)(Vol. 2)

Research Resources

William Gilmore Simms Papers
Duke University
Durham, North Carolina

Manuscript Poems
William Ashmead Courtenay Collection
Charleston Library Society
Charleston, South Carolina