James Fenimore Cooper (September 15, 1789 – September 14, 1851) was an American writer of the first half of the 19th century. His historical romances draw a picture of frontier and American Indian life in the early American days which created a unique form of American literature. He lived most of his life in Cooperstown, New York, which was founded by his father William on property that he owned. Cooper was a lifelong member of the Episcopal Church and contributed generously to it. He attended Yale University for three years, where he was a member of the Linonian Society.
Cooper served in the U.S. Navy as a midshipman, which greatly influenced many of his novels and other writings. The novel that launched his career was The Spy, a tale about counter-espionage set during the American Revolutionary War and published in 1821. He also wrote numerous sea stories, and his best-known works are five historical novels of the frontier period known as the Leatherstocking Tales. Cooper's works on the U.S. Navy have been well received among naval historians, but they were sometimes criticized by his contemporaries. Among his most famous works is the Romantic novel The Last of the Mohicans, often regarded as his masterpiece (although it was mercilessly mocked by Mark Twain).
James Fenimore Cooper
Photograph by Mathew Brady, 1850
|Born||September 15, 1789|
Burlington, New Jersey
|Died||September 14, 1851 (aged 61)|
Cooperstown, New York
|Occupation||Novelist, Historian, and US Navy sailor|
|Notable works||The Last of the Mohicans|
James Fenimore Cooper was born in Burlington, New Jersey in 1789 to William Cooper and Elizabeth (Fenimore) Cooper, the eleventh of 12 children, most of whom died during infancy or childhood. He was descended from James Cooper of Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, who immigrated to the American colonies in 1679.
Shortly after James' first birthday, his family moved to Cooperstown, New York, a community founded by his father on a large piece of land which he had bought for development. Later, his father was elected to the United States Congress as a representative from Otsego County. Their town was in a central area of New York along the headwaters of the Susquehanna River that had previously been patented to Colonel George Croghan by the Province of New York in 1769. Coghan mortgaged the land before the Revolution and after the war part of the tract was sold at public auction to William Cooper and his partner Andrew Craig. By 1788, William Cooper had selected and surveyed the site where Cooperstown would be established. He erected a home on the shore of Otsego lake and moved his family there in the autumn of 1790. He soon began construction of the mansion that became known as Otsego Hall, completed in 1799 when James was ten.
Cooper was enrolled at Yale University at age 13, but he incited a dangerous prank which involved blowing up another student's door—after having already locked a donkey in a recitation room. He was expelled in his third year without completing his degree, so he obtained work in 1806 as a sailor and joined the crew of a merchant vessel at age 17. By 1811, he obtained the rank of midshipman in the fledgling United States Navy, conferred upon him on an officer's warrant signed by Thomas Jefferson.
At 20, Cooper inherited a fortune from his father. He married Susan Augusta de Lancey at Mamaroneck, Westchester County, New York on January 1, 1811 at age 21. She was from a wealthy family who remained loyal to Great Britain during the Revolution. The Coopers had seven children, five of whom lived to adulthood. Their daughter Susan Fenimore Cooper was a writer on nature, female suffrage, and other topics. She and her father often edited each other's work. Among his descendants was Paul Fenimore Cooper (1899–1970), who also became a writer.
In 1806 at the age of 17, Cooper joined the crew of the merchant ship Sterling as a common sailor. At the time, the Sterling was commanded by young John Johnston from Maine. Cooper served as a common seaman before the mast. His first voyage took some 40 stormy days at sea and brought him to an English market in Cowes with a cargo of flour. There Cooper saw his first glimpses of England. The Sterling passed through the Strait of Dover and arrived at Cowes, where she dropped anchor. Britain was in the midst of war with Napoleon's France at the time, so their ship was immediately approached by a British man-of-war and was boarded by some of its crew. They seized one of the Sterling's best crew members and impressed him into the British Royal Navy.[note 1]
Their next voyage took them to the Mediterranean along the coast of Spain, including Águilas and Cabo de Gata, where they picked up cargo to be taken back to America. Their stay in Spain lasted several weeks and impressed the young sailor, the accounts of which Cooper later referred to in his Mercedes of Castile, a novel about Columbus.
After serving aboard the Sterling for 11 months, Cooper joined the United States Navy on January 1, 1808, when he received his commission as a midshipman. Cooper had conducted himself well as a sailor, and his father, a former U.S. Congressman, easily secured a commission for him through his long-standing connections with politicians and naval officials. The warrant for Cooper's commission as midshipman was signed by President Jefferson and mailed by Naval Secretary Robert Smith, reaching Cooper on February 19. Along with the warrant was a copy of naval rules and regulations, a description of the required naval uniform, along with an oath that Cooper was to sign in front of a witness and to be returned with his letter of acceptance. Cooper signed the oath and had it notarized by New York attorney William Williams, Jr., who had previously certified the Sterling's crew. After Williams had confirmed Cooper's signature, Cooper mailed the document to Washington. On February 24, he received orders to report to the naval commander at New York City.[note 2] Joining the United States Navy fulfilled an aspiration Cooper had had since his youth.
Cooper's first naval assignment came in March 21, 1808 aboard the USS Vesuvius, an 82-foot bomb ketch that carried twelve guns and a thirteen-inch mortar. For his next assignment, Cooper served under Lieutenant Melancthon Taylor Woolsey near Oswego on Lake Ontario, building the brig USS Oneida for service on the lake. The vessel was intended for use in a war with Great Britain which had yet to begin. The vessel was completed, armed with sixteen guns, and launched in Lake Ontario in the spring of 1809. It was in this service that Cooper learned shipbuilding, shipyard duties, and frontier life. During his leisure time, Cooper would venture through the forests of New York state and explore the shores of Lake Ontario. He took frequent cruises among the Thousand Islands where he spent time fishing. His experiences in the Oswego area later inspired some of his work, including his novel The Pathfinder.[note 3]
After completion of the Oneida in 1809, Cooper accompanied Woolsey to Niagara Falls, and was then ordered to Lake Champlain to serve aboard a gunboat until the winter months when the lake froze over. On November 13 of the same year, he was assigned to the USS Wasp under the command of Captain James Lawrence, who was from Burlington and a personal friend of Cooper's. Aboard this ship, Cooper met his lifelong friend William Branford Shubrick, who was also a midshipman at the time. Cooper later dedicated The Pilot, The Red Rover, and other writings to Shubrick.
In 1820, Cooper's wife Susan wagered that he could write a book better than the one that she was reading. In response to the wager, Cooper wrote the novel Precaution (1820). Its focus on morals and manners was influenced by Jane Austen's approach to fiction. He anonymously published Precaution and it received favorable notice from the United States and England. By contrast, his second novel The Spy (1821) was inspired by a tale related to him by neighbor and family friend John Jay. It was more successful and became a bestseller; the setting of this Revolutionary War tale is widely believed to have been John Jay's family home "The Locusts" in Rye, New York. In 1823, Cooper published The Pioneers, the first of the Leatherstocking series. The series features Natty Bumppo, a resourceful American woodsman at home with the Delaware Indians and their chief Chingachgook. Bumppo was also the main character of Cooper's most famous novel The Last of the Mohicans (1826), written in New York City where Cooper and his family lived from 1822 to 1826. The book became one of the most widely read American novels of the 19th century.
In 1823, Cooper was living in New York on Beach Street in what is now downtown's Tribeca. While there, he became a member of the Philadelphia Philosophical Society. In August of that year, his first son died.
In 1824, General Lafayette arrived from France aboard the Cadmus at Castle Garden in New York City as the nation's guest. Cooper witnessed his arrival and was one of the active committee of welcome and entertainment.
In 1826, Cooper moved his family to Europe, where he sought to gain more income from his books as well as to provide better education for his children. While overseas, he continued to write. His books published in Paris include The Red Rover and The Water Witch, two of his many sea stories. During his time in Paris, the Cooper family was seen as the center of the small American expatriate community. During this time, he developed friendships with painter Samuel Morse and with French general and American Revolutionary War hero Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette. Cooper admired the patrician liberalism of Lafayette and eulogized him as a man who "dedicated youth, person, and fortune, to the principles of liberty."
Cooper's distaste for the corruption of the European aristocracy, especially in England and France, grew as he observed them manipulate the legislature and judiciary to the exclusion of other classes. In 1832, Cooper entered the lists as a political writer in a series of letters to Le National, a Parisian journal. He defended the United States against a string of charges brought by the Revue Britannique. For the rest of his life, he continued skirmishing in print, sometimes for the national interest, sometimes for that of the individual, and frequently for both at once.
This opportunity to make a political confession of faith reflected the political turn that he already had taken in his fiction, having attacked European anti-republicanism in The Bravo (1831). Cooper continued this political course in The Heidenmauer (1832) and The Headsman: or the Abbaye of Vigneron (1833). 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.
In 1833, Cooper returned to the United States and published A Letter to My Countrymen in which he gave his criticism of various social mores. Promotional material from his publisher indicated that:
A Letter To My Countrymen remains Cooper's most trenchant work of social criticism. In it, he defines the role of the "man of letters" in a republic, the true conservative, the slavery of party affiliations, and the nature of the legislative branch of government. He also offers her most persuasive argument on why America should develop its own art and literary culture, ignoring the aristocratically and monarchically tainted art of Europe.
Cooper sharply censured his compatriots for their share in it. He followed up with novels and several sets of notes on his travels and experiences in Europe. His Homeward Bound and Home as Found are notable for containing a highly idealized self-portrait.
In June 1834, Cooper decided to reopen his ancestral mansion Otsego Hall at Cooperstown. It had long been closed and falling into decay; he had been absent from the mansion nearly 16 years. Repairs were begun, and the house was put in order. At first, he wintered in New York City and summered in Cooperstown, but eventually he made Otsego Hall his permanent home.
On May 10, 1839, Cooper published History of the Navy of the United States of America, a work that he had long planned on writing. He publicly announced his intentions to author such a historical work while abroad before departing for Europe in May 1826, during a parting speech at a dinner given in his honor:
Encouraged by your kindness, ... I will take this opportunity of recording the deeds and sufferings of a class of men to which this nation owes a debt of gratitude—a class of men among whom, I am always ready to declare, not only the earliest, but many of the happiest days of my youth have been passed.
His historical account of the U.S. Navy was first well received but later harshly criticized in America and abroad. It took Cooper 14 years to research and gather material for the book. His close association with the U.S. Navy and various officers, and his familiarity with naval life at sea provided him the background and connections to research and write this work. Cooper's work is said to have stood the test of time and is considered an authoritative account of the U.S. Navy during that time.
In 1844, Cooper's Proceedings of the naval court martial in the case of Alexander Slidell Mackenzie, a commander in the navy of the United States, &c:, was first published in Graham's Magazine of 1843–44. It was a review of the court martial of Alexander Slidell Mackenzie who had hanged three crew members of the brig USS Sommers for mutiny while at sea. One of the hanged men, 19-year-old Philip Spencer, was the son of U.S. Secretary of War John C. Spencer. He was executed without court-martial along with two other sailors aboard the Somers for allegedly attempting mutiny. Prior to this affair, Cooper was in the process of giving harsh review to Mackenzie's version of the Battle of Lake Erie. Mackenzie had previously given harsh criticism to Cooper's interpretation of the Battle of Lake Erie contained in Cooper's History of the Navy of the United States, 1839. However, he still felt sympathetic to Mackenzie over his pending court martial.
In 1846, Cooper published Lives of Distinguished American Naval Officers covering the biographies of Commodores William Bainbridge, Richard Somers, John Shaw, William Shubrick, and Edward Preble. Cooper died in 1851. In May 1853, Cooper's Old Ironsides appeared in Putnam's Monthly. It was the history of the Navy ship USS Constitution and became the first posthumous publication of his writings. In 1856, five years after Cooper's death, his History of the Navy of the United States of America was published. The work was an account of the U.S. Navy in the early 19th century. Among naval historians of today, the work has come to be recognized as a general and authoritative account. However, it was criticized for accuracy on some points by other students of that period. For example, Cooper's account of the Battle of Lake Erie was said to be less than accurate by some naval historians. For making such claims, Cooper once sued Park Benjamin, Sr. for libel, a poet and editor of the Evening Signal of New York.
Cooper's books related to current politics, coupled with his self-promotion, increased the ill feeling between the author and the public. The Whig press was virulent in its comments about him, and Cooper filed legal actions for libel, winning all his lawsuits.
After concluding his last case in court, Cooper returned to writing with more energy and success than he'd had for several years. On May 10, 1839, he published his History of the U.S. Navy, and returned to the Leatherstocking Tales series with The Pathfinder, or The Inland Sea (1840) and The Deerslayer (1841) and other novels. He wrote again on maritime themes, including Ned Myers, or A Life Before the Mast, which is of particular interest to naval historians.
In the late 1840s, Cooper returned to his public attacks on his critics and enemies in a series of novels called the Littlepage Trilogy where he defended landowners along the Hudson River, lending them social and political support against rebellious tenant farmers in the anti-rent wars that marked this period. One of his later novels was The Crater, an allegory of the rise and fall of the United States, authored in 1848. His growing sense of historical doom was exemplified in this work. At the end of his career, he wrote a scornful satire about American social life and legal practices called The Ways of the Hour, authored in 1850.
He turned again from pure fiction to the combination of art and controversy in which he had achieved distinction with the Littlepage Manuscripts (1845–1846). His next novel was The Crater, or Vulcan's Peak (1847), in which he attempted to introduce supernatural machinery. Jack Tier (1848) was a remaking of The Red Rover, and The Ways of the Hour was his last completed novel.
Cooper spent the last years of his life back in Cooperstown. He died on September 14, 1851, the day before his 62nd birthday. He was buried in the Christ Episcopal Churchyard, where his father, William Cooper, was buried. Cooper's wife Susan survived her husband only by a few months and was buried by his side at Cooperstown.
Several well-known writers, politicians, and other public figures honored Cooper's memory with a dinner in New York, six months after his death, in February 1852. Daniel Webster presided over the event and gave a speech to the gathering while Washington Irving served as a co-chairman, along with William Cullen Bryant, who also gave an address which did much to restore Cooper's damaged reputation among American writers of the time.
Beginning in his youth Cooper was a devoted follower of the Episcopal Church where his religious convictions deepened throughout his life. He was an active member of Christ Episcopal Church, which at the time was a small parish in Cooperstown not far from his home. Much later in his life, in 1834, he became its warden and vestryman. As the vestryman, he donated generously to this church and later supervised and redesigned its interior with oak furnishings at his own expense. In July 1851 he was confirmed in this church by the Reverend Mr. Birdsall.
Cooper was one of the most popular 19th-century American authors, and his work was admired greatly throughout the world. While on his death bed, the Austrian composer Franz Schubert wanted most to read more of Cooper's novels. Honoré de Balzac, the French novelist and playwright, admired him greatly. Henry David Thoreau, while attending Harvard, incorporated some of Cooper's style in his own work. D. H. Lawrence believed that Turgenev, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Maupassant, and Flaubert were all "so very obvious and coarse, besides the lovely, mature and sensitive art of Fennimore Cooper." Lawrence called Deerslayer "one of the most beautiful and perfect books in the world: flawless as a jewel and of gem-like concentration."
Cooper's work, particularly The Pioneers and The Pilot, demonstrate an early 19th-century American preoccupation with alternating prudence and negligence in a country where property rights were often still in dispute.
Cooper was one of the first major American novelists to include African, African-American and Native American characters in his works. In particular, Native Americans play central roles in his Leatherstocking tales. However, his treatment of this group is complex and highlights the tenuous relationship between frontier settlers and American Indians as exemplified in The Wept of Wish-ton-Wish, depicting a captured white girl who is taken care of by an Indian chief and who after several years is eventually returned to her parents. Often, he gives contrasting views of Native characters to emphasize their potential for good, or conversely, their proclivity for mayhem. Last of the Mohicans includes both the character of Magua, who is devoid of almost any redeeming qualities, as well as Chingachgook, the last chief of the Mohicans, who is portrayed as noble, courageous, and heroic. In 1831, Cooper was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Honorary Academician.
According to Tad Szulc, Cooper was a devotee of Poland's causes (uprisings to regain Polish sovereignty). He brought flags of the defeated Polish rebel regiment from Warsaw and presented them to the exiled leaders in Paris. And although Cooper and Marquis de La Fayette were friends, it remains unclear how Cooper found himself in Warsaw at that historical moment, although he was an active supporter of European democratic movements.
Though some scholars have hesitated to classify Cooper as a strict Romantic, Victor Hugo pronounced him greatest novelist of the century outside France. Honoré de Balzac, while mocking a few of Cooper's novels ("rhapsodies") and expressing reservations about his portrayal of characters, enthusiastically called The Pathfinder a masterpiece and professed great admiration for Cooper's portrayal of nature, only equalled in his view by Walter Scott. Mark Twain famously criticized The Deerslayer and The Pathfinder in his satirical but shrewdly observant essay, "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses" (1895), which portrays Cooper's writing as clichéd and overwrought.
Cooper was also criticized heavily for his depiction of women characters in his work. James Russell Lowell, Cooper's contemporary and a critic, referred to it poetically in A Fable for Critics, writing, "... the women he draws from one model don't vary / All sappy as maples and flat as a prairie."
Cooper's lasting reputation today rests largely upon the five Leatherstocking tales. As for the remaining body of his work, literary scholar Leslie Fiedler notes that Cooper's "collected works are monumental in their cumulative dullness."
Cooper was honored on a U.S. commemorative stamp, the Famous American series, issued in 1940.
Three dining halls at the State University of New York at Oswego are named in Cooper's remembrance (Cooper Hall, The Pathfinder, and Littlepage) because of his temporary residence in Oswego and for setting some of his works there.
The gilded and red tole chandelier hanging in the library of the White House in Washington DC is from the family of James Fenimore Cooper. It was brought there through the efforts of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in her great White House restoration. The James Fenimore Cooper Memorial Prize at New York University is awarded annually to an outstanding undergraduate student of journalism.
In 2013, Cooper was inducted into the New York Writers Hall of Fame.
Cooper's novels were very popular in the rest of the world, including, for instance, Russia. In particular, great interest of the Russian public in Cooper's work was primarily incited by the novel The Pathfinder, which the renowned Russian literary critic Vissarion Belinsky declared to be "a Shakespearean drama in the form of a novel". The author was more recognizable by his middle name, Fenimore, exotic to many in Russia. This name became a symbol of exciting adventures among Russian readers. For example, in the 1977 Soviet movie The Secret of Fenimore (Russian: Тайна Фенимора), being the third part of a children's television mini-series Three Cheerful Shifts (Russian: Три весёлые смены, see Tri vesyolye smeny (1977) on IMDb ), tells of a mysterious stranger known as Fenimore, visiting a boys' dorm in a summer camp nightly and relating fascinating stories about Indians and extraterrestrials.
|Date||Title: Subtitle||Genre||Topic, Location, Period|
|1821||The Spy: A Tale of the Neutral Ground||novel||Westchester County, New York, 1780|
|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|
|1824||The Pilot: A Tale of the Sea||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; a satire on British and American politics.|
|1836||The Eclipse||memoir||Solar eclipse in Cooperstown, New York 1806|
|1836||An Execution at Sea||short story||execution of a murderer on a ship|
|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||U.S. 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, Neapolitan Wars, 1745|
|1843||Autobiography of a Pocket-Handkerchief, also published as
||novelette||Social satire, France & New York, 1830s|
|1843||Wyandotté: or The Hutted Knoll. A Tale||novel||Butternut Valley of Otsego County, New York, 1763–1776|
|1843||Ned Myers: or Life before the Mast||biography||of Cooper's shipmate who survived an 1813 sinking of a US sloop of war in a storm|
|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
British title: Lucy Hardinge: A Second Series of Afloat and Ashore (1844)
|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||Philadelphia, Bristol (PA), & deserted Pacific island, early 19th century|
|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|
(In English: Cooper is here deep interpreter of the human heart, a great painter of the world of the soul, like Shakespeare. Definitely and clearly he uttered the unspeakable, reconciled and merged together internal and external—and his "The Pathfinder" is a Shakespearean drama in the form of the novel, the only creature in this way, having nothing equal with him, the triumph of modern art in the epic poetry.)
Afloat and Ashore is a nautical fiction novel by James Fenimore Cooper first published in 1844. Set in 1796-1804, the novel follows the maritime adventures of Miles Wallingford Jr. , the son of wealthy New York landowners who chooses to go to sea after the death of his parents. The novel ends abruptly part way through, and is followed by what critic Harold D. Langely called a "necessary" sequel Miles Wallingford, which resolves many thematic and plot elements. The novel is partially autobiographical, in part by Cooper's own experiences as a sailor, and is his first full-length novel to fully employ a first-person narrative.Jack Tier
Jack Tier, or the Florida Reef is a novel by James Fenimore Cooper first published in 1848 by New York publisher Hurd and Houghton. Set during the Mexican-American war, the novel relates a twenty-year homosocial relationship verging on the homoerotic between a sailor and the captain of the boat. But by the end of the novel the sailor is the captain's wife, transforming the story into one of heterosexual love and passion.The novel was first published serially in a magazine under the title Rose Budd in 1846. When commenting on the novel in the context of other novels about the Mexican-American War, critic Jaime Javier Rodríguez describes the novel as "an obscure work not always found in library stacks [thus it] remains largely unread but it too deserves attention."Garden Key Light on Garden Key in the Dry Tortugas was used as the setting for the novel.Leatherstocking (serial)
Leatherstocking is a 1924 American Western film serial directed by George B. Seitz.Leatherstocking Tales
The Leatherstocking Tales is a series of five novels by American writer James Fenimore Cooper, set in the eighteenth century era of development in the primarily former Iroquois areas in central New York. Each novel features Natty Bumppo, a frontiersman known to European-American settlers as "Leatherstocking", "The Pathfinder", and "the trapper". Native Americans call him "Deerslayer", "La Longue Carabine" ("Long Rifle" in French), and "Hawkeye".Mercedes of Castile
Mercedes of Castile; or, The Voyage to Cathay is an 1840 historical novel by James Fenimore Cooper. The novel is set in 15th-century Europe, and follows the preparations and expedition of Christopher Columbus westward to the new world.Natty Bumppo
Nathaniel "Natty" Bumppo is a fictional character and the protagonist of James Fenimore Cooper's pentalogy of novels known as the Leatherstocking Tales.Precaution (novel)
Precaution (1820) is the first novel written by American author James Fenimore Cooper. It was written in imitation of contemporary English domestic novels like those of Jane Austen and Amelia Opie, and it did not meet with contemporary success. Cooper went on to have great success with works such as The Pathfinder (1841) and The Deerslayer (1840). The American reading public responded most to The Last of the Mohicans (1826).Satanstoe
Satanstoe is an 1845 novel by the early American novelist James Fenimore Cooper. The novel is the first of a three novel cycle, followed by The Chainbearer and The Redskins. The novel is a fictional autobiography which explores the 18th century colony of New York.Society of American Historians Prize for Historical Fiction
The Society of American Historians Prize for Historical Fiction, formerly known as the James Fenimore Cooper Prize, is a biennial award given for the best Historical American fiction by the Society of American Historians. It is awarded in the odd-numbered years.The Chainbearer
The Chainbearer; or The Littlepage Manuscripts is a novel by the American novelist James Fenimore Cooper first published in 1845. The Chainbearer is the second book in a trilogy starting with Satanstoe and ending with The Redskins. The novel focuses mainly on issues of land ownership and the displacement of American Indians as the United States moves Westward.The Deerslayer (1957 film)
The Deerslayer is a 1957 American adventure film in CinemaScope and Color by De Luxe, directed by Kurt Neumann and written by Carroll Young, Neumann and an uncredited Dalton Trumbo. The film stars Lex Barker, Rita Moreno, Forrest Tucker, Cathy O'Donnell, Jay C. Flippen and Carlos Rivas. It is based on the novel The Deerslayer by James Fenimore Cooper. The film was released on September 10, 1957, by 20th Century Fox.The Eclipse (James Fenimore Cooper)
The Eclipse is an autobiographical vignette by James Fenimore Cooper that was written between 1833 and 1838, recounting his own experience witnessing a total solar eclipse in Cooperstown on the morning of June 16, 1806. It was published posthumously in the September 1869 issue of Putnam's Monthly Magazine. Susan Fenimore Cooper, the author's daughter, found it among his papers.The Heidenmauer
The Heidenmauer; or, The Benedictines – A Story of the Rhine is a novel by James Fenimore Cooper, first published in 1832. The novel is a socio-political novel set in 16th-century Germany that focuses on the competition between various socio-political classes and the tension caused by the Reformation. The Heidenmauer is Cooper's second novel in what one critic would call his European Trilogy, following The Bravo and preceding The Headsman. Like the other novels set in Europe, The Heidenmauer is intent on showing the darker side of European institutions in favor of an American perspective.The Lake Gun
"'The Lake Gun" is a satirical short story by James Fenimore Cooper first published in 1850. The short story was commission by George E. Wood for $100, and published in a miscellany titled The Parthenon. The short story satirizes political demagoguery, focused on William Henry Seward.The title of the story comes from a mysterious loud exploding sound coming from Seneca Lake, called "The Lake Gun" by European American settlers to the area, and known today as the Seneca Guns. These sounds remain unexplained to this day, with no clear or agreed-upon cause.The Monikins
The Monikins is an 1835 novel, written by James Fenimore Cooper. The novel, a beast fable, was written between his composition of two of his more famous novels from the Leatherstocking Tales, The Prairie and The Pathfinder. Critic Christina Starobin compares the novel's plot to Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels. The novel, narrated by the main character, the English Sir John Goldencalf, is a satire. Goldencalf and the American captain Noah Poke travel on a series of humorous adventures.The novel is not very popular amongst readers of Cooper. A contemporary critic of the novel in The Knickerbocker described the novel with great disappointment.The Pathfinder (1952 film)
The Pathfinder is a 1952 Technicolor adventure western film inspired by The Pathfinder by James Fenimore Cooper. Produced by
Sam Katzman for Columbia Pictures the film stars George Montgomery.The Water-Witch
The Water Witch is an 1830 novel by James Fenimore Cooper. Set in 17th century New York and the surrounding sea, the novel depicts the abduction of a woman, Alida de Barbérie, by the pirate captain of the brigantine Water Witch, and the subsequent pursuit of that elusive ship by her suitor, Captain Ludlow.Cooper wrote the novel, while on an extended tour of Europe, during his stay in the villa Palazzu detta del Tasso near Naples. Cooper tried to print the novel while he was in Italy in 1829 but Papal censors forbade its publication in Italy. Cooper was then able to print the novel in Dresden, before also sending copies to his publishers in the US and England. Critic Allan Axelrod describes the novel as heavily influenced by the Italian context of its writing, noting that it even compares the landscapes of New York with that of Italy.The Wing-and-Wing
The Wing-and-Wing; Or, Le Feu-Follet is an 1842 sea novel by James Fenimore Cooper. The novel includes a thematic interest in religiosity and faith. The novel also introduces metacriticism into Cooper's sea fiction, as does The Sea Lions, unlike earlier novels which typically also focused on nautical and nationalist themes.Wyandotté (novel)
Wyandotté is a historical novel published by James Fenimore Cooper in 1843. The novel is set in New York state during the American Revolution. The main character of the novel is an Indian, "Saucy Nick", also called Wyandotté ("Great Chief"), whose depictions violate stereotypes of Native Americans.Critic James H. Pickering described the novel as rejecting the more established histories of the New York/Canada border war during the Revolution. In part the novel represents Cooper's own knowledge of the regional oral history and affiliation with soldiers who had experienced the war.
Works by James Fenimore Cooper
|Leatherstocking Tales novels|
|Short stories and plays|
James Fenimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans