William Gilmore Simms

William Gilmore Simms

William Gilmore Simms

William Gilmore Simms

Excerpt

Of William Gilmore Simms in the year of his death (1870), Allibone's Dictionary said: "One of the most voluminous and popular of American authors." Since Simms had published more than eighty volumes, as well as a mass of miscellaneous periodical literature, no one could challenge the accuracy of the first part of Allibone's comment.But Simms's popularity was already waning after the Civil War, and only a fraction of his works can be found in twentieth-century reprints. It is true that in 1892 he achieved inclusion among the writers memorialized in the old American Men of Letters series, and since that date he has usually been accorded notice in standard literary histories and anthologies.He has, further, been the subject of several unpublished academic dissertations; and occasional scholarly articles have examined various facets of his long career. The five hefty volumes of his letters, issued 1952-56, stirred up some new interest, for they provided the first ample and accurate framework for judging the man and the writer. Yet, on the whole, the modem reader's acquaintance with Simms is still apt to be confined to one book—his early romance of Indian warfare, The Yemassee, recently reprinted in Twayne's United States Classics Series.This study is the first published one to survey at length a significant body of Simms's writing.

It is not difficult to determine why Simms has not attracted more general attention.To begin with, the canon of his work in several fields is truly formidable; according to the tabulation of one collector, A. S. Salley, his eighty-two books included thirty‐ four works of fiction, nineteen volumes of poetry, three of drama, three anthologies, three volumes of history, two of geography, six biographies, and twelve gatherings of reviews, miscellanies, and addresses.In addition, he left many other tales, poems, reviews, and essays scattered through a host of Southern and Northern periodicals.But nearly all of these works have long been out of print and are now impossible to obtain even from rare-book dealers. The only collected edition—the twenty . . .

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