William Gilmore Simms

American Literature

William Gilmore Simms (1806—1870), the foremost man of letters in the antebellum South, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of an Irish tradesman. His mother, who came from a middle-class Charleston family, died when he was two and his father moved west to Tennessee and then to Mississippi. Simms was reared in Charleston by his grandmother and largely self-educated. He had already published considerable poetry when he went North to establish himself in literary circles. He published Martin Faber, his first work of fiction, in 1833. The following year, he published Guy Rivers, which was widely praised. These were followed by The Yemassee and The Partisan. Simms returned to South Carolina to live, his literary reputation solidly established as one of the best-known historical novelists of his day. Before the Civil War, he owned a 3,000-acre plantation. After the war, his plantation having been burned by Sherman, William Gilmore Simms, bereft of income, wrote for poorly paying, second-line magazines and newspapers to feed and clothe his family. He left an epitaph: “Here lies one who, after a reasonably long life, distinguished chiefly by unceasing labors, has left all his better works undone.”


The Lost Pleiad

The Edge of the Swamp


The American Romance


Grayling, Chapter 1

Grayling, Chapter 2

Grayling, Chapter 3

Grayling, Chapter 4

Grayling, Chapter 5