Brown, William Wells, ca. 1814-1884. The Anti-Slavery Harp: A Collection of Songs for Anti-Slavery Meetings. Boston: B. Marsh, 1851.
Born into slavery in Kentucky, Brown escaped to Ohio in 1834 at the age of 20. He settled in Boston, Massachusetts, where he worked for abolitionist causes and became a prolific writer. Appended to Brown’s published collection of antislavery songs are 24 manuscript pages of additional songs written by an unidentified compiler.
Simms, William Gimore, 1806-1870. Woodcraft, or, Hawks about the Dovecote: A Story of the South at the Close of the Revolution. New York: Redfield, 1854
Critics generally agree that Simms’s finest novel is Woodcraft, a tale about the close of the American Revolution in South Carolina. But some critics have read Woodcraft, with its view of a coherent, hierarchical plantation society, as a rebuttal to Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which had come out in 1852. During a lecture tour in New York in 1856, speaking on “South Carolina in the Revolution,” Simms asserted his native state’s contributions to the country’s history and attacked the antislavery movement for its “defamation” of South Carolina. So negative were the reviews of his first lecture that Simms cancelled the remainder of his engagements. From that point on he became an ardent advocate of southern secession.
Douglass, Frederick. My Bondage and My Freedom: Part I - Life As a Slave, Part II- Life As a Freeman. New York: Miller, Orton & Mulligan, 1855.
Frederick Douglass was born into slavery in Maryland in 1818 and, after his escape in 1838, repeatedly risked his own freedom as a prominent anti-slavery lecturer, writer, and publisher. In this autobiography, Douglass recounts his transformation from from slave to fugitive to world-renowned abolitionist, orator, and author, whose legacy of social, intellectual, and political thought is unmatched.
Helper, Hinton Rowan, 1829-1909. The Impending Crisis of the South: How to Meet It. New York: A.B. Burdick, 1860.
In The Impending Crisis of the South, the North Carolina author Hilton Rowan Helper argued that slavery hurt the economic prospects of non-slaveholders, and that it was an impediment to the growth of the entire region of the South. Republicans used the book as a propaganda tool in the successful 1860 presidential campaign of Abraham Lincoln. Although Helper opposed slavery, following the war, he wrote three racist tracts advocating deportation of blacks to Africa or Latin America.
Boyd, Belle, 1844-1900. Belle Boyd in Camp and Prison. London: Saunders, Otley, and Co., 1865.
Belle Boyd was a Confederate spy during the American Civil War. She operated from her father's hotel in Front Royal, Virginia, and provided valuable information to Confederate military officials, notably General Stonewall Jackson. In this memoir she presents a sensational, highly embellished account of her work as a spy for the Confederacy.
Preston, Margaret Junkin, 1820-1897. Beechenbrook: A Rhyme of the War. Baltimore: Kelly & Piet, 1868
The poet Margaret Junkin Preston was born in Pennsylvania, but following her move to Virginia and the outbreak of the Civil War, she became a staunch supporter of the Confederacy. Her poems championed the Southern cause and she became known as the Poet Laureate of the Confederacy. Her most notable piece from this period is the long narrative poem, Beechenbrook: A Rhyme of the War, originally published in 1865.
Simms, William Gilmore, 1806-1870. Sack and Destruction of the City of Columbia, S.C: To Which Is Added a List of the Property Destroyed. Columbia, S.C: Power Press of Daily Phoenix, 1865.
William Gilmore Simms was the foremost man of letters in the antebellum South and supported the Confederacy during the Civil War. In this pamphlet Simms, who was a native of South Carolina, provides his first-hand account of William Tecumseh Sherman's destruction of Charleston.
Arp, Bill, 1826-1903. Bill Arp, so Called: A Side Show of the Southern Side of the War. New York: Metropolitan Record Office, 1866.
Writing under the penname Bill Arp, Charles Henry Smith was the South’s most widely read newspaper columnist. Smith's wartime writing numbered over 30 pieces where he attacked the Union for its policies and served to inspire the Confederates. He was best known for his satirical letters addressed to President Lincoln.
The Grayjackets: and How They Lived, Fought and Died, for Dixie: With Incidents & Sketches of Life in the Confederacy. Comprising Narratives of Personal Adventure, Army Life, Naval Adventure, Home Liee [sic], Partisan Daring, Life in Camp, Field and Hospital: Together with the Songs, Ballads, Anecdotes and Humorous Incidents of the War for Southern Independence. Richmond: Jones Brothers & Co, 1867.
This volume, edited by an unabashed supported of the South who identifies himself only as “A Confederate,” collects a series of vignettes “which shall tell simply and truthfully the story of the daring, the sufferings, and heroic fortitude of the people and soldiers of the south.” One of the sketches describes a successful escape from Fort Delaware.
Keckley, Elizabeth, ca. 1818-1907. Behind the Scenes: Or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House. New York: G.W. Carleton & Co., 1868.
Elizabeth Keckley was a former slave who became a successful businesswoman and civil activist, in Washington, D.C. She is best known as the personal confidante of Mary Todd Lincoln and her memoir includes an inside look at the Lincoln White House.
Cable, George Washington, 1844-1925. The Negro Question. New York, New York: American Missionary Association, 1888.
Cable, George W. Kincaid's Battery. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1908.
Binding designed by Margaret Armstrong, Gordon A. Pfeiffer Collection of Publishers’ Decorative Trade Bindings.
George Washington Cable was the most important late-nineteenth century southern author, as well as the first modern southern writer. He is best known today for his fiction about New Orleans and the Civil War-era south, but has also been praised for his essays on civil rights, such as The Silent South (1885) and The Negro Question (1888).
Evans, Augusta J., 1835-1909. Macaria; or, Altars of Sacrifice. London: William Nicholson and Sons, 1890.
Following the secession of the Southern states, Augusta J. Evans became an ardent Southern patriot. Her novel Macaria, originally published in 1864 and purportedly written by candlelight while Evans nursed wounded Confederate soldiers, was a masterpiece of propaganda. In Macaria, Evans charts the journey of two southern women who achieve self-realization through their service in the war-torn Confederacy. The book sold 20,000 copies in the South and when copies made their way North, Union officers seized and burned them.
Harper, Frances Ellen Watkins, 1825-1911. Iola Leroy, Or, Shadows Uplifted. Philadelphia: Garrigues Brothers, Publishers and Booksellers, 1893.
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper was an African-American author and abolitionist who was active in all aspects of social reform. Iola Leroy or, Shadows Uplifted, one of the first novels by an African-American woman, deals with serious social issues, including education for women, passing, miscegenation, abolition, and reconstruction. This copy of the novel is from the library of the African American author Alice Dunbar Nelson.
Ryan, Abram Joseph, 1836-1886. Poems: Patriotic, Religious, Miscellaneous. New York: Kenedy & Sons, 1896.
Abram Joseph Ryan was an American poet and Catholic priest who was an active supporter of the Confederate States of America. Though he never formally joined the Confederate Army, Father Ryan served as a freelance chaplain to Confederate troops. He wrote numerous poems based on his war experiences and quickly became known as the "Poet-Priest of the Confederacy."
Evans, Augusta J. (Augusta Jane), 1835-1909 Beulah. New York: Hurst, 1900.
A native of Georgia, the popular novelist Augusta J. Evans was an ardent Confederate patriot who wrote propaganda in support of the Southern cause. Her novel Beulah, originally published in 1859, was one of the most commercially successful books of its time and presented an idyllic view of domestic life on a plantation in the antebellum south. Gordon A. Pfeiffer Collection of Publishers’ Decorative Trade Bindings.
Timrod, Henry, 1828-1867. Poems of Henry Timrod: With Memoir and Portrait. Richmond: B.F. Johnson Publishing Co., 1901.
During the 1850s, Henry Timrod was a teacher in his native South Carolina. He was also writing poetry which was published in some of the leading literary magazines. With the outbreak of the Civil War, Timrod began writing poetry in support of the Confederate cause. In 1864, Timrod became associate editor of the South Carolinian, a daily newspaper, and wrote fiery articles and editorials attacking the Union.
Page, Thomas Nelson, 1853-1922. In Ole Virginia: Or, Marse Chan and Other Stories. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1915.
Thomas Nelson Page popularized the plantation tradition genre of Southern writing, which depicted an idealized version of life before the Civil War, with contented slaves working for benevolent masters and their families. He based much of his writing on his personal experience living on a plantation in the Antebellum South.
Mitchell, Margaret, 1900-1949. Gone with the Wind. New York: Macmillan, 1936.
Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind is probably the most popular novel with a Civil War-era setting. In the novel Mitchell presents a romantic view of the antebellum south which perpetuates a romanticized myth of plantation life. This copy of the novel is a scarce set of unbound proofs of the second printing.
Faulkner, William, 1897-1962. The Unvanquished. New York: Random House, 1938.
The Unvanquished is composed of a series of interrelated stories set in Faulkner's fictional Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi against the backdrop of the Civil War.
Tate, Allen. The Fathers. Denver: A. Swallow, 1960.
Set just before and during the American Civil War, the Kentucky-born poet Allen Tate's novel The Fathers explores the divided moods of Virginia at the outbreak of the Civil War. Tate was a founder of the Agrarian movement, which mourned the transition of the American South from an agrarian economy to a modern industrial one. This copy bears Tate’s presentation inscription to the author Malcolm Cowley.
Styron, William, 1925-2006. The Confessions of Nat Turner. New York: Random House, 1967.
William Styron’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is based on the story of Nat Turner, who led a successful slave insurrection in Southampton, Virginia. The original Confessions was purportedly composed by Nat Turner in his jail cell as he awaited execution for his role in leading the insurrection.