James Fenimore Cooper

James Fenimore Cooper

Birth
Burlington, Burlington County, New Jersey, USA
Death 14 Sep 1851 (aged 61)
Cooperstown, Otsego County, New York, USA
Burial Cooperstown, Otsego County, New York, USA
Memorial ID 228 · View Source
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Author. He received much acclaim as the first major American novelist. Considered by many as his best, the "Leatherstocking Tales” is a series of five frontier adventure novels featuring the fictional character of “Natty Bumppo,” who lives free, close to nature while the settlers bring civilization that destroys the wilderness. Considered the most read of the series, "The Last of the Mohicans" is an adventure story set in the Lake Champlain area and best known having been made into a number of movies and television programs. Besides this series, he wrote numerous books about sea adventures. The prolific writer wrote over thirty novels before his death a day shy of his sixty second birthday at his boyhood home, Otsego Hall in Cooperstown, New York. Born the eleventh of twelve children to Quakers, he was one year old when his family moved to the wild untamed area of Otsego Lake, New York, where his father established a settlement on his vast holdings, which became present-day Cooperstown. As a youngster, he loved the wilderness surrounding the family home and roamed at will while developing a love of nature, which would become the hallmark of his books. He was educated in the small one-room village school, tutored by the rector of St. Peter's Church, then sent to Albany for higher education, and finally enrolled at Yale at age fourteen but expelled at seventeen. A tour of duty in the Navy inspired his sea stories including “John Paul Jones," "No Steamboats," "Old Ironsides," "Homeward Bound," and "Life Before the Mast." His father, Judge Cooper, was attacked and killed after a political meeting in Albany. He became the executor of his father's estate receiving the bulk of the assets. After his marriage to Susan Augusta De Lancey, a descendant from a New York political family, they became nomadic moving freely among the various settlements in the State of New York. He was a vivacious reader and upon completing a novel, he complained of its poor quality making the statement, "I could write a better book." His wife challenged him, thus he found his calling and wrote better books. Cooper traveled to Europe while changing his writing agenda, compiling many unsuccessful books about democracy, politics and society. He served as the United States consult at Lyons, France. With his income dwindling, he returned home to New York. Cooper had lost his prospective in writing, forgetting what made him famous and popular, instead producing political and social view publications. He felt ill-treated by journalists and fought back with libel suits, winning most of his cases but his opinions cost him the loss of his friends, popular public standing and his brilliant writing career. He purchased Otsego Hall, his parents' home, where he had grown-up, and spent the rest of his life remodeling the structure and bickering with towns people over land and various issues. He died from cirrhosis of the liver. His body lay-in state at Otsego Hall, the funeral service was held in Christ Church and his burial following in the Cooper family plot. His wife followed him in death four months later. His grave, covered by a slab of marble marked by a cross, has become a source of pilgrimages for his literary admirers. Open to the public, his birth place located at 457 High Street in Burlington, New Jersey is preserved with many of his items. It is unique, not that is in a row house setting but because the unit next door was the longtime home of Captain James Lawrence, the naval war hero of the War of 1812. His daughter, Susan Fenimore Cooper followed in her father's footsteps becoming an author and spent most of her life trying to redeem his tarnished image. The Fenimore Art Museum is located outside Cooperstown and houses the Cooper Room which is loaded with memorabilia of the family. The Postal Service issued a two cent commemorative stamp in the Famous America Authors series on January 29, 1940. The Cooper grounds is now kept as a public park and was the location of Otsego Hall, which sadly, burned to the ground a few years after his death.

Bio by: Donald Greyfield



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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 228
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for James Fenimore Cooper (15 Sep 1789–14 Sep 1851), Find a Grave Memorial no. 228, citing Christ Churchyard, Cooperstown, Otsego County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .