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JAMES FENIMORE COOPER

1789-1851
American

"It is the fate of all things to ripen, and then to decay."

James Fenimore Cooper was born on 15th September 1789 in Burlington, New Jersey, the son of Quakers, Judge William Cooper and Elisabeth Fenimore Cooper. The family moved to Cooperstown, New York, which his father had founded. James Fenimore spent his youth on the family estate or on the shores of Otsego Lake. 

Cooper attended the village school, and during 1800-02 entered the household of the rector of St. Peter's. After being expelled from Yale, Cooper joined the Navy and served for a year. In 1808 he served on the Vesuvius and the Wasp in the Atlantic in 1809. He resigned his commission in 1811 and married Susan Augusta De Lancey.

During the 1810s Cooper took up the comfortable life of a gentleman farmer. He lived in Mamaroneck, New York from 1811 to 1814, then in Cooperstown, and from 1817 to 1821 in Scarsdale, New York. A change of fortune connected with his father's estate ended the Coopers' rural idyll. He settled in Westchester, living on his wife's land. He was extremely fond of reading and after his wife challenged him to write a book, he began his literary career.

His first novel, Precaution, which wasn’t very successful, was published in 1820, Then in 1821 he published The Spy. The Spy brought Cooper great fortune and he gave up farming completely. He wrote many other novels including The Deerslayer, The Last of The Mohicans, The Pathfinder and The Prairie. Later in his life he spent his time in Cooperstown and turned from pure fiction to a combination of art and controversy. His later novels include The Crater and Vulcan’s Peak.

Cooper died of dropsy on 14th September 1851, the day before he turned 62. He was interred in Christ Episcopal Churchyard where his father was also buried.

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