Cooper, James Fenimore, 1789-1851

Alternative names
Birth 1789-09-15
Death 1851-09-14
French, English

Biographical notes:

American author; resident of Cooperstown, N.Y.

From the description of Manuscript fragment and portrait, [ca. 1832], [ca. 1850]. (Buffalo History Museum). WorldCat record id: 57008578

Virgil David was president of the Lawrenceville Lyceum in Western Pennsylvania.

From the description of Autograph letter signed : Cooperstown, N.Y., to Virgil David, n.p., 1836 July 21. (University of Chicago Library). WorldCat record id: 55822302

From the description of Autograph letter signed : Cooperstown, N.Y., to Virgil David, n.p., 1836 July 21. (University of Chicago Library). WorldCat record id: 82231558

James Fenimore Cooper, American novelist.

From the description of [The water-witch : manuscript fragment of chapter 3 / James Fenimore Cooper] [ca. 1830] (Smith College). WorldCat record id: 212205542

Novelist and naval historian, Cooperstown, New York.

From the description of John Paul Jones : manuscript, [1843?]. (New York University, Group Batchload). WorldCat record id: 58662586

James Fenimore Cooper was an American novelist, essayist, and writer of historical works.

From the description of James Fenimore Cooper collection of papers, 1825-1904 bulk (1825-1849). (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 122686862

From the guide to the James Fenimore Cooper collection of papers, 1825-1904, 1825-1849, (The New York Public Library. Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature.)

American novelist.

From the description of Satanstoe : autograph manuscript, ca. 1845. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270538763

James Fenimore Cooper was the first successful American novelist. Born in New York into a wealthy Federalist family, he was expelled from Yale and went to sea for several years. Living an aimless life on his inheritance, Cooper declared to his wife he could write a better novel than the one he was reading, and thus began his literary career. He quickly established an international reputation as a novelist, based largely upon the five Leather-Stocking Tales, historical adventure novels that established the mythology of the American wilderness, embodied by the hero, Natty Bumppo. During his complicated and conflicted career, he also wrote essays, stories, and non-fiction.

From the description of James Fenimore Cooper letters, 1827-1843. (Pennsylvania State University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 64552825

American author.

From the description of Letter, 1849 October 29, Cooperstown, to Lucy Lippitt [manuscript]. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 647809927

From the description of Letters: of James Fenimore Cooper, 1845 June 7 & 1847 December 27 [manuscript]. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 647809871

From the description of ALS, 1851 Feb. 7, Cooperstown, N. Y., to Charles Ingersoll, Philadelphia. (Rosenbach Museum & Library). WorldCat record id: 122585863

From the description of Letters: of James Fenimore Cooper, 1847-1850 [manuscript]. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 647809902

From the description of Cancelled check (No. 288) filled out and signed : Cooperstown, 1846 Dec. 8. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270536048

From the description of Autograph letter signed : Southampton, to John Miller, bookseller and publisher, 1833 Aug. 21. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270870572

From the description of Autograph letter signed : "Otsego Hall, Cooperstown", to George Roberts, editor of the Boston Notion, 1841 Feb. 13. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270526250


From the description of James Fenimore Cooper correspondence, 1836. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 79449907

From the description of Papers of James Fenimore Cooper [manuscript] 1789-1851. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 647946503

Cooper, of course, is the well known American writer of such classics as the Last of the Mohicans and the Deerslayer. Nothing is known about Hall.

From the description of Correspondence, 1848. (Clarke Historical Library). WorldCat record id: 40419928

James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851) was born in Burlington, N.J., but spent his youth at Otsego Hall in Cooperstown, N.Y., the home of his father, William Cooper (1754-1809). His mother was Elizabeth Fenimore (1752-1817). After an early education at the public school in Cooperstown and at the home of an Episcopal rector in Albany, he attended Yale for three years. In 1806, he went to sea, receiving a commission as a navy midshipman in 1808. His marriage to Susan Augusta De Lancey (1792-1852) of Westchester County, N.Y., took place in 1811, when he also resigned from the navy. In the years immediately following their marriage, the Coopers lived in Mamaroneck, N.Y., Cooperstown, Scarsdale, N.Y. (where he began writing), and New York City. Cooper's first novel, _Precaution_ (1820), was not a success, but this was followed by _The Spy_ (1821), _The Pioneers_ (1823), and _The Pilot_ (1823), all of which were very successful.

Cooper met the Marquis de Lafayette (1757-1834) in 1824, and the two became friends. In 1826, Cooper and his family went to Europe, living mostly in Paris. They returned to New York City in 1834, and lived there for two years before settling at Otsego Hall in 1836.

Cooper was a prolific writer, and in the course of his life he became involved in a number of controversies, both literary and personal. He was attacked by the newspapers, and initiated and won several lawsuits for libel. Many of the papers in the collection deal with these court cases (see Ethel R. Outland, _The "Effingham" Libels on Cooper: A Documentary History of the Libel Suits of James Fenimore Cooper Centering Around the Three Mile Point Controversy and the Novel Home as Found, 1837-1845_ [Madison: University of Wisconsin, 1929. University of Wisconsin Studies in Language and Literature, No. 28]).

Cooper's later works included the "Littlepage" trilogy -- _Satanstoe_ (1845), _The Chainbearer_ (1845), and _The Redskins_ (1846). These novels reflected his sympathies with landowners against tenants in the anti-rent controversy which took place in New York in the 1840s.

From the description of Papers, 1792-1884. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 207127463

James Fenimore Cooper, American novelist, was born on September 15, 1789, to William and Elizabeth Fenimore Cooper in Burlington, New Jersey. Cooper attended Yale College from 1803 to 1805, but was expelled before receiving a degree. In 1806 he worked on a merchant vessel, the Sterling, in order to acquire experience necessary before joining the navy in 1808. He served in several posts, including midshipman, paymaster, and quartermaster. Cooper resigned from the navy shortly after he married Susan Augusta De Lancey in 1811. During the first years of their marriage the couple lived in Westchester County, Cooperstown (founded by Cooper’s father), and New York City, and throughout this period Cooper was involved in a number of business ventures, including whaling. He published his first novel ( Precaution ) in 1820, which launched his career as an author of a number of novels, non-fiction, and travel books. Among Cooper’s best known works are his historical novels, such as The Last of the Mohicans, The Pioneers, The Prairie, and The Spy, and nautical novels including The Pilot and Homeward Bound . In 1826 Cooper moved to Europe, which inspired his trilogy of European novels as well as several non-fiction travel accounts. He returned to the U.S. in 1833, and after a period in New York City, moved to the Cooper family home, Otsego Hall, in Cooperstown where he died in 1851.

Susan Augusta De Lancey, the third child of John Peter and Elizabeth Floyd De Lancey was born on January 28, 1792 in Mamaroneck, New York. Her siblings were Thomas James, Anne Charlotte, Caroline, and Edward. John Peter De Lancey was a former British army officer and the De Lanceys were a prominent New York family. Susan Cooper is credited with motivating her husband to become an author, by suggesting that he write a better novel when he criticized a book he was reading to her. At times she also acted as a proof reader for Cooper when he was unavailable to check page proofs. Susan De Lancey Cooper died in Cooperstown in 1852.

The Coopers had five children who lived into adulthood, their four daughters, Susan, Caroline, Anne, and Maria, and son, Paul. Susan Fenimore Cooper (1813-1894) served as her father’s copyist and eventually as his literary executor. She worked closely with him during the writing process, and evidence of her involvement is traced in forewords she wrote for Household editions of her father’s works (published between 1876 and 1884) as well as her articles "A Glance Backward" and “A Second Glance Backward” published in the Atlantic Monthly (1887). She also edited Papers and Pictures from the Writings of James Fenimore Cooper (1861). In turn, James Fenimore Cooper promoted his daughter's literary career; her books include: Elinor Wyllys; or, The Young Folk of Longbridge (1845), Rural Hours (1850), Rhyme and Reason of Country Life (1854), Rural Rambles (1854), and Mount Vernon: A Letter to the Children of America (1859).

From the guide to the James Fenimore Cooper collection, 1792-1976, 1792-1894, (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)


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  • Novelists, American
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  • Libel and slander
  • Portraits
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  • Europe (as recorded)
  • Scarsdale (N.Y.) (as recorded)
  • Spring Wells (Mich.) (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • France (as recorded)
  • Cooperstown (N.Y.) (as recorded)
  • Pennsylvania (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Middlefield (N.Y.) (as recorded)
  • Paris (France) (as recorded)
  • New York (State) (as recorded)
  • Kalamazoo (Mich.) (as recorded)
  • Pennsylvania (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Otsego County (N.Y.) (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Cooperstown (N.Y.) (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Farmington (Mich.) (as recorded)
  • Michigan (as recorded)
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  • France (as recorded)
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