From the Documenting the American South website, linked in the first line of this post, we learn of the book’s author, William Gilmore Simms:
“To a greater extent, perhaps, than any other 19th-century southern author, he gave a comprehensive picture of his region in its historical and cultural diversity—of the Low Country with its class hierarchy, its agrarian economy, its increasingly conservative politics, and its keen sectional self-consciousness; of the Gulf South, both civilized and violent, part plantation, part frontier; and of the Appalachian Mountain South in its pioneer phase. His writing exhibits qualities that mark southern literature from its beginnings: a sense of time and history, a love of southern landscape, a respect for southern social institutions, and a firm belief in class stratification and enlightened upper-class rule.”
The article notes that though he supported the Union in the nullification controversy of the 1830s, he later became more strongly Southern nationalist. He was very politically active in addition to pursuing a writing career, his books giving us a vivid picture of life in the old South, and its social system — which was very class-based, as the quote above notes — as well as being entertaining reading.
This is the sort of thing I love to read; I am fascinated by how people lived, by accounts of the little details of everyday life in the days of my ancestors. I also find it personally interesting that apparently Simms corresponded with a kinsman of mine, Beverley Tucker. This book should make good reading this Christmas season for anybody who is interested in the old South, its old customs and social ways.