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 July 1, 2018

Home Page


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 July 1, 2018 this website contained some 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 I 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. -- Hugh MacDougall, Corresponding Secretary

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.

The James Fenimore Cooper society sponsored two panels at the American Literature Association Conference in San Francisco, May 24-27, 2018:
"The Frontier in American Literary Imagination"
"James Fenimore Cooper and the Winds of Change"

What's New on the Cooper Society Website?

Site Organization

Return to Top of Page

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

Return to Top of Page

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

Return to Top of Page

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

Return to Top of Page

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

Collected Works of Isaac Mitchell

Return to Top of Page

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).

Return to Top of Page

Go to:







Film, etc.



Susan Fenimore Cooper




Teaching Cooper

Books about Cooper
and Cooperstown