Strangers to Us All Lawyers and Poetry

Nathaniel Beverley Tucker

Virginia & Missouri

Nathaniel Beverley Tucker, the second son of St. George Tucker, like so many members of his family, was a lawyer and literary man. Beverley Tucker was born at Matoax, Virginia, on September 6, 1784 and was educated at Williamsburgh, where his father had taken up residence. Tucker graduated from William and Mary in 1801 and then studied of law. He was married in 1809 and moved to Charlotte County. He moved to Missouri in 1815, became a resident of the state, and was appointed as judge. Fifteen years later he returned to Virginia. On July 4, 1834, he was elected to serve as professor of law at William and Mary College, a position he held until his death in the summer of 1851. [Source: Evert A. & George L. Duyckinck, 1 The Cyclopaedia of American Literature 694 (Philadelphia: William Rutter & Co., 1880)(2 vols. )]

Tucker wrote political novels and engaged in various other forms of writing. His first novel, George Balcombe, to which he did not append his name, received favorable reviews, including one from Edgar Allen Poe. Poe provides the following commentary on Tucker's writing:

B. Tucker Judge BEVERLEY TUCKER, of the College of William and Mary, Virginia, is the author of one of the best novels ever published in America - "George Balcombe" - although, for some reason, the book was never a popular favorite. It was, perhaps, somewhat too didactic for the general taste. He has written a great deal, also, for the "Southern Literary Messenger" at different times ; and, at one period, acted in part, if not altogether, as editor of that Magazine, which is indebted to him for some very racy articles, in the way of criticism especially. He is apt, however, to be led away by personal feelings, and is more given to vituperation for the mere sake of point or pungency, than is altogether consonant with his character as judge. Some five years ago there appeared in the "Messenger," under the editorial head, an article on the subject of the "Pickwick Papers" and some other productions of Mr. Dickens. This article, which abounded in well-written but extravagant denunciation of everything composed by the author of "The Curiosity Shop," [column 2:] and which prophesied his immediate downfall, we have reason to believe was from the pen of Judge Beverley Tucker. We take this opportunity of mentioning the subject, because the odium of the paper in question fell altogether upon our shoulders, and it is a burden we are not disposed and never intended to bear. The review appeared in March, we think, and we had retired from the Messenger in the January preceding. About eighteen months previously, and when Mr. Dickens was scarcely known to the public at all, except as the author of some brief tales and essays, the writer of this article took occasion to predict, in the Messenger, and in the most emphatic manner, that high and just distinction which the author in question has attained. Judge Tucker's MS. is diminutive, but neat and legible, and has much force and precision, with little of the picturesque. The care which he bestows upon his literary compositions makes itself manifest also in his chirography. The signature is more florid than the general hand. [Source: Edgar Allan Poe, "A Chapter on Autography (Part I)," Graham's Magazine, November 1841, pp. 224-234]

Tucker corresponded with the young Poe when he was editor of the Southern Literary Messenger and another Southern man of letters, William Gilmore Simms, a fellow lawyer and poet.

Nathaniel Beverley Tucker

The Life and Literature of Nathaniel Beverley Tucker
Colonial Williamsburg: The Journal of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Judge Beverley Tucker's Fiction
15 The Cambridge History of English and American Literature (1907-21)(vol. 15: Colonial and Revolutionary Literature; Early National Literature, Part I)

Antebellum Fiction

Letter—Nathaniel Beverley Tucker to Richard Cocke, January 10, 1861
"The Ground Beneath Our Feet"—A documentary film series and website
about Virginia's History after the Civil War

Letter— Nathaniel Beverley Tucker to Edgar Allan Poe - December 5, 1835
E.A. Poe Society of Baltimore

History—William & Mary School of Law

St. George Tucker House

St. George Tucker House

Antebellum Era
Encyclopedia of Southern Culture


John L. Hare, Images of the Family in the Ante-Bellum Virginia Novel, Department of American Studies, University of Maryland, College Park, April 1997

Denise Ann Riley, "The Masters of the Blue Room: An Investigation of the Relationship Between the Environment and the Ideology of the Faculty of the College of William and Mary, 1936-1846, Ph.D. dissertation, Ohio State University, 1997

Adam L. Tate, Conservatism and Southern Intellectuals, 1789-1861: Liberty, Tradition, and the Good Society (University of Missouri Press, ____)

Susan J. Tracy, In the Master's Eye: Representations of Women, Blacks, and Poor Whites in Antebellum Southern Literature ( Amherst, University of Massachusetts Press, 1995) [review]


"To a Coquette" and "To the Same"


Enigma de J. J. Rousseau

To Miss L. H. W.

La Feuille Desechée


Iphigenia at Tauris: A Dramatic Poem, Act I
(Translated from the German of Goëthé.)(
[Acts II-III ] [Act IV] [Act V]

Lectures, Addresses, Writings

Lecture to Law Students

A Note to Blackstone's Commentaries

Extract from Reminiscences of a Western Traveller

Christian Education

Professor Beverley Tucker's Valedictory Address to His Class

Charlot Tayon

To -


A Lecture on Government



An Essay on the Moral and Political Effect of the Relation between the Caucasian Master and the African Slave, Part I
[Part II]

"Gertrude: A Novel "
Southern Literary Messenger in 1844 and 1845
Gertrude: A Novel, Chapters I-II
Gertrude; A Novel, Chapters III-V
Gertrude; A Novel, Chapters VI-VIII
Gertrude, Chapter XVI

Munford's Homer: A Review

Judge Tucker's Address

MSS. of John Randolph

MSS. of John Randolph, Letter IV

[For Future Reference: The primary source for these online text resources for Nathaniel Beverley Tucker is the Making of America etext collection at the University of Michigan]


Beverly Tucker, George Balcombe. A Novel (New York: Harper, 1836)(2 vols.)

____________, A Series of Lectures on the Science of Government; Intended to Prepare the Student for the Study of the Constitution of the United States (Philadelphia: Carey and Hart, 1845)

____________, The Principles of Pleading (Boston: Little, Brown, 1846)

____________, The Partisan Leader; A Tale of the Future (Printed for the publishers, by J. Caxton, 1856) [i.e. Washington, Printed for D. Green, 1836)(pseud. Edward William Sidney)(2 vols.)(New York: A. A. Knopf, 1933; Carl Bridenbaugh ed.) [online text]

Research Resources

Tucker-Coleman Papers
Swem Library
College of William and Mary
Williamsburg, Virginia

Correspondence of Nathaniel Beverley Tucker, 1837-1888
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, Virginia

Dr. Beverley Tucker

Education in Colonia Virginia