James Fenimore Cooper

by Becky Roche

Basic Biographical Information

  • James Fenimore Cooper was born in 1786 and died in 1851
  • He was a popular American writer in the early nineteenth century
  • He lived in Cooperstown, New York and attended Yale for three years
  • He served in the United States Navy which influenced many of his novels
  • He is best remembered for the Leatherstocking Tales and The Last of the Mohicans

James Fenimore Cooper history/herstory
The Early American Romantics: Irving and Cooper

Common Themes

  • James Fenimore Cooper was one of the most controversial figures in American literature
  • He was among the first and the last of America’s great novelists.
  • He is first, preceding Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, and Mark Twain, and may have influenced some or all of these writers in one way or another.
  • He may be among the last in artistic achievement, however, as critics sometimes call attention to what they perceive as flaws in his characterization and other aspects of his novels.
  • Cooper is an important figure in American literature, known particularly for his creation of the idealized hero Natty Bumppo and for his treatment of the American frontier in The Leather-Stocking Tales, a series of five novels that include The Pioneers in 1823, The Last of the Mohicans in 1826, and The Deerslayer in 1841.

Major Works

  • In 1820, John Cooper's wife said that he could write a book better than the one she was reading. In response to this, Cooper wrote the novel Precaution.
  • The book's focus on manners and morals was influenced by Jane Austen's approach to fiction. He published Precaution anonymously and wrote other novels soon after.
  • In 1823, he published The Pioneers, the first installment 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 written in 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.

About Me

Becky Roche

Student at Corning-Painted Post West High School