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13 January, 2012
Outlines of English and American Literature|
by Long, William J.
|In the South was another group of young writers, quite as able and
enthusiastic as their northern contemporaries. Among these we note
especially William Gilmore Simms (1806-1870), whose Yemassee,
Border Beagles, Katherine Walton and many other historical
romances of Colonial and Revolutionary days were of more than passing
interest. He was a high-minded and most industrious writer, who produced
over forty volumes of poems, essays, biographies, histories and tales; but
he is now remembered chiefly by his novels, which won him the title of "the
Cooper of the South." At least one of his historical romances should be
read, partly for its own sake and partly for a comparison with Cooper's
work in the same field. Thus The Yemassee (1835), dealing with
frontier life and Indian warfare, may be read in connection with Cooper's
The Deerslayer (1841), which has the same general theme; or The
Partisan (1835), dealing with the bitter struggle of southern Whigs and
Tories during the Revolution, may well be compared with Cooper's The
Spy (1821), which depicts the same struggle in a northern environment.
Other notable writers of the South during this period were Richard Henry
Wilde the poet, now remembered by the song (from an unfinished opera)
beginning, "My life is like the summer rose"; William Wirt, the essayist
and biographer; and John Pendleton Kennedy, writer of essays and stories
which contain many charming pictures of social life in Virginia and
Maryland in the days "before the war."