James Finermore Cooper was a revolutionary writer of his time and is still influencing writers today as a traditional writer of American Romanticism.
He was born to William and Elizabeth Cooper in Burlington, New Jersey on September 15, 1789. Cooper’s father was a congressman during the Washington administration. Elizabeth was a member of a New Jersey Quaker family and William was the founder of a frontier settlement. At one year old, his family moved to a primitive settlement in upstate New York. As the 11th of 12 children, he was fortunate to not have to endure the rough part of frontier of life. Most of his education was without books and teaching from his family.
Despite his limited education, Cooper was accepted into Yale in 1803. Little is known about his college career, except that he was high spirited and was expelled for a prank. One thing we do know, he was the best Latin scholar. Because of the prank and a strong-willed father, he was signed into the navy in 1805. After a short and dull career in the new navy, Cooper decided to settle down. His father died in 1809 leaving him financially independent. In 1811, Cooper married Susan De Lancy. For ten years, he dabbled in different careers such as agriculture, politics, the American Bible Society, and the Westchester militia, with no permanent success.
In 1820, Cooper published his first fiction Precaution. He published it on a dare from his wife. Cooper said he could write a better fiction than Jane Austen’s novels of English gentry manners. Today, Precaution is mainly used as a document of American colonialism.
His first famous and well paying book was The Spy. The book was modeled after Sir Walter Scott’s Waverly Tails. The Spy was a groundbreaker because it was set during the American Revolution. The book was based off of his wife’s British Loyalist family. It brought him fame and some wealth which was needed. His older brothers had died and left him in charge of caring for their widows. Cooper’s book, The Spy, introduced the new American character type.
James Coopers biggest impact on American Literature was the tales in Leatherstocking. The books quickly became famous featuring Natty Bumpo, as his new character. Natty Bumpo, was modeled after...