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Encyclopedia > James Fenimore Cooper
Cooper portrait by John Wesley Jarvis, 1822
Cooper portrait by John Wesley Jarvis, 1822

James Fenimore Cooper (September 15, 1789September 14, 1851) was a prolific and popular American writer of the early 19th century. He is particularly remembered as a novelist, who wrote numerous sea-stories as well as the historical romances known as the Leatherstocking Tales, featuring frontiersman Natty Bumppo. Among his most famous works is the Romantic novel The Last of the Mohicans, which many people consider his masterpiece. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (592x717, 187 KB)James Fenimore Cooper portrait by John Wesley Jarvis, 1822, New York State Historical Association File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (592x717, 187 KB)James Fenimore Cooper portrait by John Wesley Jarvis, 1822, New York State Historical Association File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... John Wesley Jarvis (1780-1840), American painter, nephew of the great John Wesley, was born at South Shields, England, and was taken to the United States at the age of five. ... September 15 is the 258th day of the year (259th in leap years). ... 1789 was a common year starting on Thursday (see link for calendar). ... September 14 is the 257th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (258th in leap years). ... 1851 (MDCCCLI) was a common year starting on Wednesday (see link for calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Friday of the 12-day-slower Julian calendar). ... The Leatherstocking Tales is a series of novels by American writer James Fenimore Cooper, each featuring the hero Natty Bumppo, known by European settlers as Leatherstocking, and by the Native Americans as Pathfinder, Deerslayer, or Hawkeye. Listed chronologically by story action, the books are: Note that these are the dates... The Leatherstocking Tales is a series of novels by American writer James Fenimore Cooper, each featuring the hero Natty Bumppo, otherwise known as Leatherstocking, Pathfinder, Deerslayer, or Hawkeye. ... Romanticism is an artistic and intellectual movement that originated in late 18th century Western Europe. ... For other uses, see The Last of the Mohicans (disambiguation). ...

Contents

Early life

Cooper was born in Burlington, New Jersey, on the 15th of September 1789, the eleventh of William and Elizabeth Cooper's twelve children. When James was one year old, his family moved to the frontier of Otsego Lake, New York, where his father established a settlement on his yet unsettled estates which became modern-day Cooperstown, New York. His father was a judge and member of Congress. James was sent to school at Albany and at New Haven, and attended Yale College 1803-1805 as its youngest student, but was expelled, apparently for a dangerous prank involving blowing up another student's door as well as stealing food.[1] See also: Burlington Township, New Jersey The City of Burlington highlighted in Burlington County. ... September 15 is the 258th day of the year (259th in leap years). ... 1789 was a common year starting on Thursday (see link for calendar). ... Judge William Cooper ( December 2, 1754 – December 22, 1809 ) was the founder of Cooperstown, New York and father of writer James Fenimore Cooper, who apparently used his father as the pattern for the Judge Marmaduke Temple character in the his book The Pioneers. ... Otsego Lake is a small lake located in Otsego County, New York in the USA and is a source of the Susquehanna River. ... NY redirects here. ... Cooperstown is a village in Otsego County, New York and is the County Seat. ... Type Bicameral Houses Senate House of Representatives President of the Senate Dick Cheney, R, since January 20, 2001 Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, R, since January 6, 1999 Members 535 plus 4 Delegates and 1 Resident Commissioner Political groups (as of January 4, 2005 elections) Democratic Party Republican Party... Location in Albany County and the State of New York Coordinates: Country United States State New York County Albany Founded 1614 Incorporated 1686  - Mayor Gerald D. Jennings Area    - City 56. ... This article is about the city in Connecticut. ... For other uses, see Yale (disambiguation). ...


Three years afterward he joined the United States Navy; but after making a voyage or two in a merchant vessel to perfect himself in seamanship, and obtaining his lieutenancy, he married Susan Augusta de Lancey (the wedding took place in Mamaroneck, New York, on May 18, 1810) and resigned his commission (1811). He had married into one of the best families in the state. USN redirects here. ... Mamaroneck is a town located in Westchester County, New York. ... May 18 is the 138th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (139th in leap years). ... 1810 was a common year starting on Monday (see link for calendar). ...


His father William died in 1810, when James was twenty years old, but the legacy he left his son influenced his entire career. Almost one half of Cooper's novels are about populating the wilderness, in The Pioneers his father appears directly, as Judge Marmaduke Temple of Templeton.


Literary career

James Fenimore Cooper
James Fenimore Cooper

Cooper settled in Westchester County, New York, the “Neutral Ground” of his earliest American romance, and produced anonymously (1820) his first book, Precaution, a novel of the fashionable school. This was followed (1821) by The Spy, which was very successful at the date of issue; The Pioneers (1823), the first of the Leatherstocking series; and The Pilot (1824), a bold and dashing sea-story. The next was Lionel Lincoln (1825), a feeble and unattractive work; and this was succeeded in 1826 by the famous Last of the Mohicans, a book that is considered by many to be Cooper's masterpiece. Quitting America for Europe he published in Paris The Prairie (1826), the best of his books in nearly all respects, and The Red Rover, (1828), by no means his worst. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (606x852, 297 KB)James Fenimore Cooper engraved by J.C. Buttre File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (606x852, 297 KB)James Fenimore Cooper engraved by J.C. Buttre File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Westchester County is a suburban county with about 940,000 residents located in the U.S. state of New York. ... The Leatherstocking Tales is a series of novels by American writer James Fenimore Cooper, each featuring the hero Natty Bumppo, known by European settlers as Leatherstocking, and by the Native Americans as Pathfinder, Deerslayer, or Hawkeye. Listed chronologically by story action, the books are: Note that these are the dates... The Last of the Mohicans is an epic novel by James Fenimore Cooper, first published in January 1826. ... Europe at its furthest extent, reaching to the Urals. ... City flag City coat of arms Motto: Fluctuat nec mergitur (Latin: Tossed by the waves, she does not sink) Paris Eiffel tower as seen from the esplanade du Trocadéro. ...


At this period Cooper's unequal and uncertain talent would seem to have been at its best. These novels were, however, succeeded by one very inferior, The Wept of Wish-ton-Wish (1829); by The Notions of a Travelling Bachelor (1828); and by The Waterwitch (1830), one of his many sea-stories. In 1830 he entered the lists as a party writer, defending in a series of letters to the National, a Parisian journal, the United States against a string of charges brought against them by the Revue Britannique; and for the rest of his life he continued skirmishing in print, sometimes for the national interest, sometimes for that of the individual, and not infrequently for both at once.


This opportunity of making a political confession of faith appears not only to have fortified him in his own convictions, but to have inspired him with the idea of elucidating them for the public through the medium of his art. His next three novels, The Bravo (1831), The Heidenmauer (1832) and The Headsman: or the Abbaye of Vigneron (1833), were expressions of Cooper's republican convictions. The Bravo depicted Venice as a place where a ruthless oligarchy lurks behind the mask of the "serene republic." All were widely read on both sides of the Atlantic, though The Bravo was a critical failure in the United States.[2] For other uses, see Republic (disambiguation). ... Venice (Italian: Venezia, Venetian: Venexia) is the capital of region Veneto, and has a population of 271,663 (census estimate January 1, 2004). ... Oligarchy (Greek , Oligarkhía) is a form of government where political power effectively rests with a small, elite segment of society (whether distinguished by wealth, family or military prowess). ...

Photograph by Mathew Brady c.1850
Photograph by
Mathew Brady c.1850
Engraving by F.O.C. Darley
Engraving by
F.O.C. Darley

In 1833 Cooper returned to America and immediately published A Letter to My Countrymen, in which he gave his own version of the controversy in which he had been engaged and sharply censured his compatriots for their share in it. This attack he followed up with The Monikins (1835) and The American Democrat (1835); with several sets of notes on his travels and experiences in Europe, among which may be remarked his England (1837), in three volumes, a burst of vanity and ill temper; and with Homeward Bound and Home as Found (1838), notable as containing a highly idealized portrait of himself. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (600x764, 123 KB)Photograph of James Fenimore Cooper by Matthew Brady c. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (600x764, 123 KB)Photograph of James Fenimore Cooper by Matthew Brady c. ... Image:Matthew Brady 1875 cropped. ... Image File history File links James Fenimore Cooper illustration by F.O.C. Darley File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Image File history File links James Fenimore Cooper illustration by F.O.C. Darley File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Felix Octavius Carr Darley ( 1821 – 1888 ) was an American illustrator, known for his illustrations in works by well-known 19th century authors, including: James Fenimore Cooper, Charles Dickens, Nathaniel Hawthorne Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Washington Irving, and Edgar Allan Poe. ...


All these books tended to increase the ill feeling between author and public; the Whig press was virulent and scandalous in its comments, and Cooper plunged into a series of actions for libel. Victorious in all of them, he returned to his old occupation with something of his old vigour and success. A History of the Navy of the United States (1839), supplemented (1846) by a set of Lives of Distinguished American Naval Officers, was succeeded by The Pathfinder (1840), a good “Leatherstocking” novel; by Mercedes of Castile (1840); The Deerslayer (1841); by The Two Admirals and by Wing and Wing (1842); by Wyandotte, The History of a Pocket Handkerchief, and Ned Myers (1843); and by Afloat and Ashore, or the Adventures of Miles Wallingford (1844). The United States Whig Party was a political party of the United States. ... In English and American law, and systems based on them, libel and slander are two forms of defamation (or defamation of character), which is the tort or delict of making a false statement of fact that injures someones reputation. ...


From pure fiction, however, he turned again to the combination of art and controversy in which he had achieved distinction, and in the two Littlepage Manuscripts (1845—1846) he wrote with a great deal of vigour. His next novel was The Crater, or Vulcan's Peak (1847), in which he attempted to introduce supernatural machinery; and this was succeeded by Oak Openings The Two Admirals and Jack Tier (1848), the latter a curious rifacimento of The Red Rover; by The Sea Lions (1849); and finally by The Ways of the Hour (1850), another novel with a purpose, and his last book.


The Leatherstocking tales

The five Leatherstocking novels chronicle the life of Nathaniel "Natty" Bumppo, who lives in the frontier (which moves steadily westward with each successive novel,) at the intersection of European and Native American culture. Bumppo is a hybrid of these cultures; in each book, he has a different Native American name, and it is by these names that he is known. These books are a lucid and insightful study of the encounter between the two cultures, from the point of view of a man who manages to straddle the divide between them. The Leatherstocking Tales is a series of novels by American writer James Fenimore Cooper, each featuring the hero Natty Bumppo, otherwise known as Leatherstocking, Pathfinder, Deerslayer, or Hawkeye. ...


Last years and legacy

James Fenimore Cooper statue
James Fenimore Cooper statue

Cooper spent the last years of his life in Cooperstown, New York (named for his father). He died of dropsy on the 14th of September 1851 and a statue was later erected in his honor. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (796x1097, 361 KB)Statue of James Fenimore Cooper in Cooperstown, New York. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (796x1097, 361 KB)Statue of James Fenimore Cooper in Cooperstown, New York. ... For a list of other places, see Cooperstown (disambiguation). ... Edema (BE: oedema, formerly known as dropsy) is swelling of any organ or tissue due to accumulation of excess fluid. ...


Cooper was certainly one of the most popular 19th century American authors. His stories have been translated into nearly all the languages of Europe and into some of those of Asia. Balzac admired him greatly, but with discrimination; Victor Hugo pronounced him greater than the great master of modern romance, and this verdict was echoed by a multitude of inferior readers, who were satisfied with no title for their favourite less than that of “the American Scott.” As a satirist and observer he is simply the “Cooper who's written six volumes to prove he's as good as a Lord” of Lowell's clever portrait; his enormous vanity and his irritability find vent in a sort of dull violence, which is exceedingly tiresome. He was most memorably criticised by Mark Twain whose vicious and amusing "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offences" is still read widely in academic circles. World map showing the location of Asia. ... Honoré de Balzac Honoré de Balzac (May 20, 1799 - August 18, 1850), was a French novelist. ... Victor-Marie Hugo (pronounced in French) (26 February 1802 — May 1885) was a French poet, novelist, playwright, essayist, visual artist, statesman and human rights campaigner, perhaps the most influential exponent of the Romantic movement in France. ... Portrait of Sir Walter Scott, by Sir Edwin Henry Landseer Sir Walter Scott, 1st Baronet (15 August 1771 – 21 September 1832) was a prolific Scottish historical novelist and poet popular throughout Europe during his time. ... Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910),[1] better known by the pen name Mark Twain, was an American humorist, satirist, writer, and lecturer. ...


This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain. Encyclopædia Britannica, the 11th edition The Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition (1910–1911) is perhaps the most famous edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica. ... The public domain comprises the body of all creative works and other knowledge—writing, artwork, music, science, inventions, and others—in which no person or organization has any proprietary interest. ...


Cooper's writings

The writings of James Fenimore Cooper
Date Title: Subtitle Genre Topic, Location, Period
1820 Precaution: A Novel novel England, 1813-1814
1821 The Spy: A Tale of the Neutral Ground novel Westchester County, New York, 1778
1823 The Pioneers: or The Sources of the Susquehanna novel Leatherstocking, Otsego County, New York, 1793-1794,
1823 Tales for Fifteen: or Imagination and Heart 2 short stories written under the pseudonym: "Jane Morgan"
1823 The Pilot: A Tale of the Sea [3] novel John Paul Jones, England, 1780
1825 Lionel Lincoln: or The Leaguer of Boston novel Battle of Bunker Hill, Boston, 1775-1781
1826 The Last of the Mohicans: A narrative of 1757 novel Leatherstocking, French and Indian War, Lake George & Adirondacks, 1757
1827 The Prairie novel Leatherstocking, American Midwest, 1805
1828 The Red Rover: A Tale novel Newport, Rhode Island & Atlantic Ocean, pirates, 1759
1828 Notions of the Americans: Picked up by a Travelling Bachelor non-fiction America for European readers
1829 The Wept of Wish-ton-Wish: A Tale novel Western Connecticut, Puritans and Indians, 1660-1676
1830 The Water-Witch: or the Skimmer of the Seas novel New York, smugglers, 1713
1830 Letter to General Lafayette politics France vs. US, cost of government
1831 The Bravo: A Tale novel Venice, 18th century
1832 The Heidenmauer: or, The Benedictines, A Legend of the Rhine novel German Rhineland, 16th century
1832 No Steamboats short story
1833 The Headsman: The Abbaye des Vignerons novel Geneva, Switzerland, & Alps, 18th century
1834 A Letter to His Countrymen politics Why Cooper temporarily stopped writing
1835 The Monikins novel Antarctica, aristocratic monkeys. 1830s
1836 The Eclipse memoir Solar eclipse in Cooperstown, New York 1806
1836 Gleanings in Europe: Switzerland (Sketches of Switzerland) travel Hiking in Switzerland, 1828
1836 Gleanings in Europe: The Rhine (Sketches of Switzerland, Part Second) travel Travels France, Rhineland & Switzerland, 1832
1836 A Residence in France: With an Excursion Up the Rhine, and a Second Visit to Switzerland travel
1837 Gleanings in Europe: France travel Living, travelling in France, 1826-1828
1837 Gleanings in Europe: England travel Travels in England, 1826, 1828, 1833
1838 Gleanings in Europe: Italy travel Living, travelling in Italy, 1828-1830
1838 The American Democrat : or Hints on the Social and Civic Relations of the United States of America non-fiction US society and government
1838 The Chronicles of Cooperstown history Local history of Cooperstown, New York
1838 Homeward Bound: or The Chase: A Tale of the Sea novel Atlantic Ocean & North African coast, 1835
1838 Home as Found: Sequel to Homeward Bound novel Eve Effingham, New York City & Otsego County, New York, 1835
1839 The History of the Navy of the United States of America history US Naval history to date
1839 Old Ironsides history History of the Frigate USS Constitution, 1st pub. 1853
1840 The Pathfinder: or the Inland Sea novel Leatherstocking, Western New York, 1759
1840 Mercedes of Castile: or, The Voyage to Cathay novel Christopher Columbus in West Indies, 1490s
1841 The Deerslayer: or The First Warpath novel Leatherstocking, Otsego Lake 1740-1745
1842 The Two Admirals novel England & English Channel, Scottish uprising, 1745
1842 The Wing-and-Wing: le Le Feu-Follet (Jack o Lantern) novel Italian coast, Napoleonic Wars, 1745
1843 Autobiography of a Pocket-Handkerchief, also published as
  • Le Mouchoir: An Autobiographical Romance
  • The French Governess: or The Embroidered Handkerchief
  • Die franzosischer Erzieheren: oder das gestickte Taschentuch
novelette Social satire, France & New York, 1830s
1843 Richard Dale
1843 Wyandotté: or The Hutted Knoll. A Tale [4] novel Butternut Valley of Otsego County, New York, 1763-1776
1843 Ned Myers: or Life before the Mast biography of Cooper's shipmate
1844 Afloat and Ashore: or The Adventures of Miles Wallingford. A Sea Tale novel Ulster County & worldwide, 1795-1805
1844 Miles Wallingford: Sequel to Afloat and Ashore novel Ulster County & worldwide, 1795-1805
1844 Proceedings of the Naval Court-Martial in the Case of Alexander Slidell Mackenzie, &c.
1845 Satanstoe: or The Littlepage Manuscripts, a Tale of the Colony novel New York City, Westchester County, Albany, Adirondacks, 1758
1845 The Chainbearer; or, The Littlepage Manuscripts novel Westchester County, Adirondacks, 1780s (next generation)
1846 The Redskins; or, Indian and Injin: Being the Conclusion of the Littlepage Manuscripts novel Anti-rent wars, Adirondacks, 1845
1846 Lives of Distinguished American Naval Officers biography
1847 The Crater; or, Vulcan's Peak: A Tale of the Pacific (Mark's Reef) novel New Jersey & Pacific desert island, early 1800s
1848 Jack Tier: or the Florida Reefs
a.k.a. Captain Spike: or The Islets of the Gulf
novel Florida Keys, Mexican War, 1846
1848 The Oak Openings: or the Bee-Hunter novel Kalamazoo River, Michigan, War of 1812
1849 The Sea Lions: The Lost Sealers novel Long Island & Antarctica, 1819-1820
1850 The Ways of the Hour novel "Dukes County, New York," murder/courtroom mystery novel, legal corruption, women's rights, 1846
1850 Upside Down: or Philosophy in Petticoats play satirization of socialism
1851 The Lake Gun short story Seneca Lake in New York, political satire based on folklore
1851 New York: or The Towns of Manhattan history Unfinished, history of New York City, 1st pub. 1864

Sources for this table include: The Pioneers: The Sources of the Susquehanna is one of the Leatherstocking Tales, a series of five novels by American writer James Fenimore Cooper. ... The Leatherstocking Tales is a series of novels by American writer James Fenimore Cooper, each featuring the hero Natty Bumppo, otherwise known as Leatherstocking, Pathfinder, Deerslayer, or Hawkeye. ... Dukes County, New York was formed on November 1, 1683 by New York from the Elizabeth Islands, Marthas Vineyard, and Nantucket Island, all beyond the eastern end of Long Island in the Province of New York. ...

Modern editions of Cooper

  • The Leatherstocking Tales, vol. 1, Blake Nevius, ed. (New York: The Library of America, 1985) ISBN 0-940450-20-8. Includes The Pioneers, The Last of the Mohicans, The Prairie.
  • The Leatherstocking Tales, vol. 2, Blake Nevius, ed. (New York: The Library of America, 1985) ISBN 0-940450-21-6. Includes The Pathfinder and The Deerslayer.
  • Sea Tales: The Pilot, The Red Rover, Kay Seymour House & Thomas Philbrick, eds. (New York: The Library of America, 1991) ISBN 0-940450-70-4

External links

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James Fenimore Cooper - Biography and Works (1446 words)
Cooper was a friend of Washington Irving, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Nathaniel Hawthorne, and is said to have influenced Herman Melville and earned the praise of Wilkie Collins.
James Cooper was born on 15 September 1789 in Burlington, New Jersey, U.S.A, the eleventh child born to Elizabeth née Fenimore (1752-1817) and Congressman, Judge, and founder of Cooperstown, William Cooper (1754-1809).
James Fenimore Cooper died on 14 September 1851 in Cooperstown, New York, U.S.A. He lies buried in the family plot in the Christ Episcopal Churchyard in Cooperstown.
GradeSaver: ClassicNote: Biography of James Fenimore Cooper (1063 words)
William Cooper, his father, who was to become one of the most successful founders of new settlements in the colonial republic, was descended from the English Quakers who had come to West Jersey around the year 168- and had prospered.
James was sent to the local Academy for a few years before being transferred to the care of an Episcopal clergyman in Albany.
Cooper claimed that he still he had lived up to his artistic vision when he died in 1851, but as most lovers of the adventure story will agree, he came close enough.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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