Sunday, 15 September 2013

James Fenimore Cooper born this day in 1789

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Yes today, 15th September,is the birthday of the first best-selling American novelist, James Fenimore Cooper, born in Burlington, New Jersey (1789). For most of his life he was known as James Cooper, but after his father's death, he tried to have his name legally changed to Fenimore, so as to inherit some property from his mother's family. He didn't get the property, but the name stuck. 

He started out as a Navy man, but after he got married, his wife persuaded him to quit the sea and stay home. He struggled to run the estate he had inherited from his father, and he got into terrible debt. One day, he was reading aloud to his wife from an English novel, and he said he thought he could write a better novel himself. His wife laughed at him, because he didn't even enjoy writing letters much, but he sat down and wrote a book and it was published as Precaution (1820). He wrote six novels in the next six years.

He became best known for his series of five novels called the Leatherstocking Tales, including The Last of the Mohicans (1826), about frontier violence and adventure. At the time, most Americans read English literature about kings and queens, because they thought it was more romantic than their own difficult, colonial lives. James Fenimore Cooper was the first American author to make the wild, untamed life in America seem romantic. 

During his life, he was widely respected as a great novelist, but after his death, Mark Twain wrote an essay called "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offences" (1895) that helped to destroy his reputation. Twain wrote:"[The rules of literature] require that the personages in a tale shall be alive, except in the case of corpses, and that always the reader shall be able to tell the corpses from the others. But this detail has often been overlooked in [Cooper's books]." But Fenimore Cooper is still remembered for making America a subject for adventure and romance. 

You may obtain an Ebook Edition of the "The Last of the Mohicans" by going to

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