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James Fenimore Cooper
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"Born in 1789, James Fenimore Cooper, the twelfth child in a family of thirteen was educated for a time at Yale until a series of pranks got him expelled when he was sixteen. In 1805 he joined a merchant ship bound for Europe and after obtaining his midshipman's warrant served with the US Navy until 1810. His resignation following his father's death and his decision to marry Susan De Lancey meant he returned to help run the family estate.
"In 1820 he plunged into a literary career when his wife challenged his claim that he could write a better book than the English novel he was reading to her. The result was Precaution, which was quickly followed by his early successes such as The Spy, The Pioneers (the first of the Leatherstocking Tales), Lionel Lincoln and The Last of the Mohicans.
"With the publication of the latter, Cooper was at last recognized as a major novelist. For eight years he travelled with his family through France, Switzerland, Italy and Germany and in this time wrote two of his most successful works, The Prairie and The Red Rover as well as numerous letters. His last successes came with the resurrection of Natty Bumppo in The Pathfinder (1840), and the haunting story The Deerslayer (1841), but his outspoken attacks on critics and political opponents resulted in his declining popularity. His reputation as the first of the American writers was, however, restored when a complete edition of his works was published shortly before his death in 1851."
Source: Penguin Web Site (http://www.futurenet.co.uk/Penguin/Authors/124.html). Accessed 10 June 1997.
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