James Fenimore Cooper – 1789-1851
The scion of a prominent upstate New York family, Cooper is reputed to have become a novelist at his wife’s urging. He had complained about a British novel he had just read, claiming that he could do better. Susan De Lancy Cooper dared him to do just that, and he wrote Precaution (1820), largely in imitation of Jane Austen. He found his life’s subject in a series of five novels—collectively called the Leatherstocking Tales—that featured a frontier guide and scout named Natty Bumppo. In The Pioneers (1823), The Last of the Mohicans (1826), The Prairie (1827), The Pathfinder (1840), and The Deerslayer (1841), Bumppo emerged as an archetypal man of the frontier, a character of mythic proportions.