The Cassique of Kiawah


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First drafted as a novel called Oyster Point when the author was only eighteen, The Cassique of Kiawah was finally published thirty-five years later, in 1859, at the height of William Gilmore Simms’s career. It is a history through fiction of early Charleston, South Carolina, and completed Simms’s series of Revolutionary War novels. Through satire and realism he portrays the charm and the corruption of late seventeenth-century Charleston society, and he contrasts the quiet majesty of the wilderness with the violence of man. The book was widely reviewed and highly praised, and it confirmed Simms’s position as the nation’s best-known novelist.

Kevin Collins is an assistant professor of English at the State University of West Georgia.


John Caldwell Guilds is Distinguished Professor in Humanities at the University of Arkansas. He has published extensively on Simms and has served as the editor of many of his works.

“It is cause for rejoicing that another volume . . . is now added to the University of Arkansas Press’s distinguished series. I cannot imagine a more important editorial and publishing project in the field of nineteenth-century literature. With good texts available for the first time in a century or more, it is possible for critics, scholars, students, and general readers to study, understand, and re-evaluate this most neglected and underrated of American writers.”

—James B. Meriwether, McClintock Emeritus Professor of Southern Letters, University of South Carolina


“The best scenes in Cassique are exceptional, perhaps unique. They are painted in colors so vivid and with such a confident and practiced hand that the result is a work in which the highly exciting and realistic narrative movement is enhanced by what may be Simms’s finest achievement in description and imagery.”

—Anne Blythe Merriwether, Immediate Past President of the William Gilmore Simms Society

The University of Arkansas Press edition of the Selected Fiction of William Gilmore Simms has as its aim to publish the major novels and short fiction in reliable texts, together with scholarly introductions, annotations, and other matter useful to scholars, critics, and teachers of Simms’s work. Though not full-dress editions in the strictest sense, the volumes of the Arkansas Simms follow the conventions of scholarly editing by reprinting the last edition revised by Simms during his lifetime. Orthography, capitalization, and word division follow nineteenth-century practices, with no effort to modernize spelling or punctuation. Earlier volumes in the series have included both an introduction by Professor John C. Guilds, now the general editor emeritus, and a historical note and afterword by the editor of that particular volume. In the recent volumes the introduction, historical note, and afterword will be combined into a single introduction prepared by the volume editor.