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Author Information: James Fenimore Cooper

 
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Biography:

Writer; born in Burlington, N.J. Raised in prosperous circumstances in his father's frontier settlement at Cooperstown, N.Y., he attended Yale University (but was expelled for a prank) and spent several years in the navy (1806--11). Living as a country gentleman, he wrote his first novel, Precaution (1820), allegedly after his wife challenged his claim that he could write a better one than what she was then reading. His second, The Spy (1821), is regarded as the first major American novel. He moved to New York City and achieved great popular success with The Pilot (1823) and his first three Leatherstocking tales, The Pioneers (1823), followed by The Last of the Mohicans (1826) and The Prairie (1827), a series that offered for the first time a heroic vision of the American frontier. From 1826 to 1833 he lived in Europe, where he wrote several American and European romances and other works revealing his deep homesickness for an unspoiled American wilderness. But his return to Cooperstown in 1834 was followed by years of bitter disillusionment with the U.S.A. He wrote many satires and virulent criticism that were largely ignored by readers; he also engaged in libel suits against some of his critics and this only further alienated the American public. The prolific output of his last years included a scholarly history of the U.S. Navy (1839), and, among other novels, two final Leatherstocking tales, The Pathfinder (1840) and The Deerslayer (1841).

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