James Fenimore Cooper Society Website
This page is: http://jfcoopersociety.org/introduction.html

What's New, What's Here, and How to Find It

Updated Mach 8, 2021

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Welcome to the Website of the James Fenimore Cooper Society. It is intended for many different kinds of users. It is for readers who have come to enjoy Cooper's works, and wish to expand their knowledge about them. It is for scholars seeking reference materials, hard-to-find texts, and the website's growing library of Cooper criticism. But it also for students approaching Cooper for the first time. This is a growing site, and we welcome comments and suggestions.

As of August 1, 2019, this website contained over 500 webpages specifically devoted to James Fenimore Cooper and his daughter Susan Fenimore Cooper. This includes (not including papers presented but not available for inclusion on this website):

as well as biographic, bibliographic, and genealogical information, and a number of complete books, etc., etc.

Hugh MacDougall

Hugh MacDougall
Founder & Corresponding

We also welcome questions-- simple as well as advanced; from beginners as well as long-time Cooper fans; from students and readers as well as scholars-- about any aspect of James Fenimore Cooper or Susan Fenimore Cooper. Just send your questions, by this e-mail link, to Ask Fenimore, and we will try to answer them as quickly as possible. No question is "too stupid," and we have a large library of Cooper reference materials to help with more complicated ones. Besides questions relating to Cooper's life and works, we will try to help with questions about Cooper genealogy, or about the origin or value of copies of Cooper's books, that you may own. -- Steven Harthorn, Corresponding Secretary

Hugh Cooke MacDougall, 1932-2021

It is with heavy hearts that we announce the death of the Cooper Society's founder and longtime Corresponding Secretary, Hugh Cooke MacDougall, on March 7, 2021. He was 88 years old. Following a distinguished career in diplomatic service, Hugh returned to Cooperstown, New York, and founded the James Fenimore Cooper Society in 1989. He also served as the Cooperstown Village Historian and was active in local organizations, including Otsego 2000. He was indefatigable in his passion for knowledge and outreach; this website is one of the many products of his scholarly energy. You can learn more about Hugh from this 2012 interview and read some of his many writings about Cooper on our Articles page. You may also enjoy watching this tour of Cooperstown, recorded by C-SPAN, that Hugh gave in 2001. We will update with further tributes to Hugh soon. --Steven Harthorn, Corresponding Secretary, March 8, 2021

Contents of this Page
What's New on the Cooper Society Website
Site Organization Reading Cooper for Pleasure
The Leatherstocking Tales Some Technical Matters
Collected Works of Isaac Mitchell --

A video program on James Fenimore Cooper (recorded April 2001) can be viewed at C-Span American Writers--James Fenimore Cooper. Fast internet access required.

Calls for Papers

Check here for calls for presentations at upcoming conferences.

We also welcome inquiries about submissions to the Cooper Society's main publication, The James Fenimore Cooper Society Journal. Please contact the Editor if you have new items or an idea for an article.

What's New on the Cooper Society Website?

Site Organization

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The site is divided into 14 major categories, which can be reached from here or from the buttons on our home page. Or, for a complete contents of the site, see THE SITE OUTLINE

Reading Cooper For Pleasure

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For nearly two centuries, the novels of James Fenimore Cooper have been read by millions of readers all over the world, in English and translated into dozens of foreign languages. To read Cooper with pleasure in the 21st Century requires some understanding of where he was coming from: the patterns of Romance Novels that he helped pioneer in the early 19th century; how the American language and writing styles have changed over the years; and how 19th century novels were intended to be read aloud. That said, Cooper can be read today for his exciting stories, for the window he gives into understanding the American past, and a wise commentator on social and ethical issues that are still important to us. To make the going a bit easier, we suggest you look at our short list of suggestions at Reading Cooper for Pleasure .

The Leatherstocking Tales

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Cooper is best known for the five "Leatherstocking Tales," written between 1823 and 1841. They are separate stories, and can be enjoyed individually. Through them all, however, strides the buckskin-clad figure of Natty Bumppo, called "Leatherstocking" by the settlers, and "Deerslayer," "Pathfinder," and "Hawkeye" by his Indian friends. An ungainly but philosophical frontiersman, Leatherstocking is the first truly American hero. His reverence for the wilderness, his skill as scout and marksman, his restlessness and enthusiasm for adventure, his cool courage in the face of death, his belief in fair play for men and chivalry towards women, and even his faithful Indian companion Chingachgook, have been copied by popular American fiction right up to the latest Western, and helped form America's image of itself.

There has long been controversy as to the orderin which the Leatherstocking Tales should be read -- in the order that Cooper composed them (as listed below), or in the "chronological" order of Natty Bumppo's fictional life ( i.e.: Deerslayer; Mohicans; Pathfinder; Pioneers; Prairie). We, and probably a majority of serious Cooper readers, recommend the order in which Cooper wrote the books, because the character of Natty Bumppo developed gradually over the some 15 years during which they were composed.

Some Technical Matters

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Here are two documents needed for those working on this website:

Collected Works of Isaac Mitchell

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Nothing to do with Cooper! But your Correspondence Secretary has long been interested in the works of Isaac Mitchell (1759-1812), best (indeed, only) known for his novel Alonzo and Melissa, in turn famous primarily because of its having been successfully pirated by one Daniel Jackson, Jr. In this section, you will find both a few preliminary words about the life and works of Isaac Mitchell, and the three texts we have discovered: Albert and Eliza (1802); Melville and Phalez (1803); and Alonzo and Melissa (1804).

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Go to:







Film, etc.



Susan Fenimore Cooper




Teaching Cooper

Books about Cooper
and Cooperstown