Timrod, Henry, 1828-1867

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Poet, "poet laureate of the Confederacy"

From the description of Papers: of Henry Timrod, 1867, n.d. [manuscript]. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 647809839

Author and poet, of Charleston and Columbia, S.C.; known as "Poet Laureate of the Confederacy;" part-owner and editor, Daily South Carolinian newspaper; contributor, Russell's Magazine; son, of William Henry Timrod (1792-1838) and Thyrza Prince Timrod; husband of Kate Goodwin; father of William Timrod (1864-1865); brother of Emily Timrod Goodwin.

From the description of Henry Timrod papers, 1851-1937; (bulk, 1851-1872). (University of South Carolina). WorldCat record id: 43147028

Henry Timrod was born on 8 December 1828 in Charleston, South Carolina. He was educated at Franklin College (now the University of Georgia) from 1845 to 1847, when poverty and ill health forced him to leave school. After receiving private training, he sought a professorship, but was unable to obtain one. He then worked as a tutor in various households of South Carolina planters. In 1860, he published a collection of poems, which received favorable reviews. He served briefly as a war correspondent in the West, but ill health forced him to return home. He married Kate Goodwin in 1864, and died on 6 October 1867.

Rachel Lyons Heustis of Columbia, South Carolina was a friend of Henry Timrod, and the recipient of letters and poems by him. She later married Dr. J.F. Heustis of Mobile, Alabama.

Note: The information given is taken from Henry Timrod: A Biographical Sketch, by William P. Fidler, published in the Southern Literary Messenger, October, November, and December 1940.

From the guide to the Henry Timrod papers MSS. 1411., 1854-1940, (W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library, The University of Alabama)

Henry Timrod was born in Charleston, South Carolina on Dec. 8, 1829. He was the son of William Henry Timrod, a bookbinder, and Thyrza Prince. When Henry was ten, William Timrod published a volume of poems in which "Ode to Time" reportedly was praised by Washington Irving, and this literary pursuit was passed on to his son. Timrod attended the University of Georgia in 1845 but later withdrew and served as apprentice to Charleston lawyer James L. Petigru. By the early 1850s, however, he had again shifted course, and while considering the possibility of pursuing additional study and a professorship in the classics, he began to write for Charleston newspapers. As a journalist, Timrod learned to concentrate on details, a talent that later served him well as a Civil War correspondent for the Charleston Mercury. Also in the 1850s Timrod, who embraced the aesthetic and ethical ideas of Wordsworth and Tennyson, met several kindred writers, the most prominent being the established men of letters William Gilmore Simms and Paul Hamilton Hayne, Timrod's life-long friend and editor of his posthumously collected poetry. These literary cohorts, with whom he congregated at the Charleston library and in John Russell's Bookstore, bolstered Timrod's belief that one's sense of ethics could be aroused by feeling or emotions. When Russell's Magazine began to be published in 1857, with Russell as business manager and Hayne as editor, Timrod had poems placed in nearly every issue. Also in Russell's he published essays such as "The Literature of the South," which advocated a focus on familiar subjects (as per Wordsworth) and a powerful sense of morality (as per Tennyson), and "A Theory of Poetry," which challenged Edgar Allan Poe's declaration that poetry was "rhythmic beauty." The latter elicited from poet Sidney Lanier, who sought the "science" of verse, the impetuous criticism that Timrod lacked the technique for verse. Russell's was immensely popular, and when it ceased publication in 1860 Timrod found outlets for his work in the Charleston Mercury, the Charleston Courier, and the Columbia Daily South Carolinian. In addition to contributing to Russell's Magazine and the Charleston newspapers, Timrod became editor of the Columbia Daily South Carolinian at its inception in January 1864 and moved to Columbia at that time. In that year he married Kate S. Goodwin, and on Christmas Eve 1864 their son, Willie, was born. Within two months of their only child's birth, however, Columbia was razed by Union troops during William T. Sherman's devastating march through South Carolina. Timrod's editorship of the Daily South Carolinian was thus severely restricted, and after a plan to publish another collection of verse--his Poems was published in 1860--failed to materialize, the family became destitute. In December 1865, Willie died. This final tragedy provided the impetus for two poems that Timrod wrote in his penultimate year in which the personal poetic voice he first explored in "Charleston" was again achieved. "Our Willie," published, like "A Mother's Wail," in Scott's Monthly Magazine in 1866, is Timrod's personal effort to confront nature in its starkest form. The deaths of multitudes in war--the tragedy of the South--now give way to the private expiring of a single life, a "little wide-eyed seer" who spoke with a "murmur like a mystic speech." In Willie's agonizingly short life Timrod may have seen reflected his own pitifully brief allotment of time as well as the passing of his beloved southern way of life. Unlike "Our Willie," which links the events of two Christmases and contrasts Willie's death with the transcendent birth of Christ, "A Mother's Wail," written one month later, focuses on the startling reality of the loss. Christmas imagery has been replaced with that of Easter, and the once other-worldly baby is now described materially as a "single rose-bud in a crown of thorns." Using the mother's viewpoint, the poet contrives a staple of Victorian sentimentalism by having her remember the experience of nursing her baby, but in such concrete detail, the images expose a jarring contrast to the beatific themes: "that warm, wet, eager mouth, / With the sweet sharpness of its budding pearls." In these two poems Timrod evokes both the spiritual and the realistic in order to come to some understanding of the terrors of mortality. He was thus much more than simply the poet laureate of the Confederacy; he was a poet who grappled with the basic questions of existence, questions asked about humanity though prompted by his personal situation. We may regret, as did he, that Timrod was not granted more time to create, but perhaps his suffering brought him to a speedier maturity that enabled him to find and develop his personal poetic voice and to achieve a far greater insight than his early work otherwise would have anticipated. In the crucible of his own pain, Timrod withstood the bewildering fragility of human beauty by transmuting it into the remarkable durability of art. He died of tuberculosis in Columbia. Henry Timrod - American National Biography Online http://www.anb.org (Retrieved February 17, 2009)

Hayne, Paul Hamilton (1 Jan. 1830-6 July 1886), poet and man of letters, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of Paul Hamilton Hayne, a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, and Emily McElhenny, members of families prominent in politics, law, and religion. Two of the elder Hayne's brothers were U.S. senators, one of whom, Robert Young Hayne, was Daniel Webster's redoubtable opponent in the debates on Nullification and young Hayne's guardian after yellow fever caused the early death of his father. Educated in a local preparatory school and at the College of Charleston (1847-1850), Hayne turned after graduation to the study of law with James Louis Petigru, former state attorney general, and in 1852 was admitted to the bar. Also in 1852 he married Mary Middleton Michel; they had one child. But literature prevailed over law, and Hayne became editor and owner of the Southern Literary Gazette late in 1852. Disheartened by the reception of the Gazette, he sold it in 1854 and later that year assembled his first book, Poems, from previously published verse. Encouraged by the generally favorable response to Poems--the well-known critic Edwin Percy Whipple, for instance, noted the book's "general promise as well as fine performance"--Hayne set about writing and putting together two more volumes of poetry before the war: Sonnets, and Other Poems (1857) and Avolio: A Legend of the Island of Cos; with Poems, Lyrical, Miscellaneous, and Dramatic (c. 1859). Many of these early pieces are conventional in form, style, and content. They indicate Hayne's general acceptance of the Anglo-American poetic tradition rather than an interest in the radical changes then being advocated by Walt Whitman. During this time Hayne also contributed to the Southern Literary Messenger, Graham's Magazine, Harper's New Monthly, and the Atlantic Monthly, and served as editor of Russell's Magazine from 1857 to 1860, Charleston's last serious antebellum effort to establish a literary monthly. The Civil War brought an end to the journal, and Hayne applied himself to fulltime support of the Confederacy. Unable to engage in field service because of poor health (he had suffered from lung and liver complaints since his youth), he managed to serve for four months in 1861-1862 as aide-de-camp to Governor Francis Pickens, a kinsman, but devoted himself primarily to writing as a means of defending his state and nation. In 1864 he collected his poems, including his best war lyrics, and sent the manuscript to England, but it was lost in the blockade. The defeat of the Confederacy brought financial ruin to Hayne and his family, and in 1865 he was forced to seek a new home in the pine barrens near Augusta, Georgia. There at "Copse Hill," Grovetown, he remained until his death of a stroke, devoting himself to writing poetry, criticism, and a voluminous correspondence involving the exchange of literary ideas and the promotion of southern cultural interests. After the death in 1870 of William Gilmore Simms, an old friend and mentor, Hayne became the chief literary spokesman for the South, an unofficial postwar laureate for the late Confederacy, a role not unlike the one his lifelong friend Henry Timrod had assumed during the war. In poems and essays he expressed what he considered to be the southern view of such political matters as the disputed presidential election of 1876 and the plight of the region during Reconstruction. He also wrote tributes to the Confederacy and to the memory of Simms, Timrod, and Sidney Lanier. In 1885 Andrew Adgate Lipscomb, former chancellor of the University of Georgia and a new friend of Hayne's, observed that he had "given utterance to the Southern heart as no one else has done." Paul Hamilton Hayne - American National Biography Online http://wwwanb.org (Retrieved February 17, 2009)

Emily T. Goodwin was the sister of Henry Timrod.

From the description of Henry Timrod papers, 1834-1894. (University of Georgia). WorldCat record id: 318360392

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Barnwell, William M. Scrapbooks of the Conway, Black, and Davis families, 1852-1961. University of South Carolina, System Library Service, University Libraries
referencedIn Stoddard, Richard Henry, 1825-1903. Papers of Richard Henry Stoddard, 1851-1901. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Heustis, Rachel Lyons, fl. 1859-1865. Rachel Lyons Heustis papers, 1859-1864 [manuscript]. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
referencedIn Woodberry Poetry Room (Harvard College Library) poetry readings, 1931- (ongoing). Woodberry Poetry Room, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University
creatorOf Holland, Marianne. Marianne Holland papers, 1958-1995. University of South Carolina, System Library Service, University Libraries
referencedIn Nevitt, John Jacob, ca. 1848-ca. 1918. John Jacob Nevitt scrapbook, 1861-1864. Georgia Historical Society
referencedIn Benjamin, Walter Romeyn, 1854-1943,. American and English literary and historical papers collected by Atcheson L. Hench [manuscript] 1780-1933. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Rossel, M. de (Elisabeth Paul Edouard), 1765-1829,. Papers found inserted in books [manuscript] 1806-1982. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Hayne, Paul Hamilton, 1830-1886. Papers, 1815-1944. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
referencedIn Whittier, John Greenleaf, 1807-1892. Letters, 1870-1879, Amesbury, Massachusetts, etc., to Paul Hamilton Hayne. Brown University Archives, John Hay Library
creatorOf Timrod, Henry, 1828-1867. Papers: of Henry Timrod, 1867, n.d. [manuscript]. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Miscellaneous Papers University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection
referencedIn Henry Seabrook poem and Henry Timrod essay, undated. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
creatorOf Thompson, John Reuben, 1823-1873. Papers of John R. Thompson [manuscript], 1842-1926. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Ladies' Association to Commemorate the Confederate Dead (Charleston, S.C.). Odes to be sung at Magnolia Cemetery / printed by Mrs. S.C. Ball, Henry Timrod, and E.T. Winkler, 1866 June 16. University of South Carolina, System Library Service, University Libraries
creatorOf Timrod, Henry, 1828-1867. Letters from Henry Timrod : to Paul Hamilton Hayne, 1862-1866. Princeton University Library
creatorOf Sosnowski family. Papers of the Sosnowski and Schaller Families, 1828-1948. University of South Carolina, System Library Service, University Libraries
referencedIn Bruns, J. Dickson (John Dickson), 1836-1883. The life and genius of Henry Timrod [manuscript], n.d. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Maclean, Clara Victoria Dargan, 1841-1923. Papers, 1849-1920. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
creatorOf Henry Timrod papers MSS. 1411., 1854-1940 W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library, The University of Alabama
creatorOf Timrod, Henry, 1828-1867. Henry Timrod papers, 1851-1937; (bulk, 1851-1872). University of South Carolina, System Library Service, University Libraries
referencedIn Autograph verses and photographs of Southern poets of the Civil War, circa 1860-1870 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn McCabe, W. Gordon (William Gordon), 1841-1920. Letters to R.H. Stoddard [manuscript], 1873. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Timrod, Henry, 1828-1867. Henry Timrod papers, 1834-1894. University of Georgia, University of Georgia, Main Library
referencedIn Sosnowski family. Sosnowski family papers, 1840-1967. South Carolina Historical Society
referencedIn Poe, Edgar Allan, 1809-1849. "Oh Tempora! Oh Mores," as it appeared in The Southern opinion, and The no name magazine, and an article (reprint Univ. Colorado Studies) on the authenticity of the poem together with an obituary of Henry Timrod [manuscript] 1868, 1889, 1945. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Rees & Co. Composite photograph of southern poets, n.d. University of Virginia. Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Brontèˆ, Charlotte, 1816-1855 person
associatedWith Bruns, J. Dickson (John Dickson), 1836-1883. person
correspondedWith Courtenay, William Ashmead, 1831-1908 person
associatedWith Davidson, James Wood, 1829-1905. person
correspondedWith Dearing, William person
associatedWith Dekker, Thomas, ca. 1572-1632 person
associatedWith Fields, James Thomas, 1817-1881. person
associatedWith Goddard, Martha Le Baron, 1829-1888. A collection of poems. person
correspondedWith Goodwin, Emily Timrod person
associatedWith Goodwin, Henry Timrod. person
correspondedWith Hayne, Paul Hamilton, 1830-1886 person
associatedWith Heustis, Rachel Lyons, fl. 1859-1865. person
associatedWith Holland, Marianne. person
associatedWith Ladies' Association to Commemorate the Confederate Dead (Charleston, S.C.) corporateBody
associatedWith Mabbott, Thomas, person
associatedWith Maclean, Clara Victoria Dargan, 1841-1923. person
associatedWith McCabe, W. Gordon (William Gordon), 1841-1920. person
associatedWith Middleton, Thomas, d. 1627. person
associatedWith Nevitt, John Jacob, ca. 1848-ca. 1918. person
associatedWith Poe, Edgar Allan, 1809-1849. person
associatedWith Rees & Co. corporateBody
associatedWith Schaller, Frank. person
associatedWith Simms, William Gilmore, 1806-1870. person
associatedWith Sosnowski family. family
associatedWith Sosnowski family. person
associatedWith Stoddard, Richard Henry, 1825-1903. person
associatedWith Strickland, Agnes, 1796-1874. person
associatedWith Thompson, John Reuben, 1823-1873. person
correspondedWith Toombs, Robert Augustus, 1810-1885 person
associatedWith Whipple, Edwin Percy, 1819-1886. person
associatedWith Whittier, John Greenleaf, 1807-1892. person
associatedWith Woodberry Poetry Room (Harvard College Library). corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
South Carolina--Columbia
United States |x History |y Civil War, 1861-1865
Columbia (S.C.)
South Carolina
Charleston (S.C.)
South Carolina
Literature and Authors
Poets, American
Poets, American
Poets, American


Birth 1828-12-08

Death 1867-10-07


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