James Fenimore Cooper (September 15, 1789 – September 14, 1851) was an American writer of the first half of the 19th century. His historical romances depicting frontier and Native American life from the 17th to the 19th centuries created a unique form of American literature. He lived much of his boyhood and the last fifteen years of life in Cooperstown, New York, which was founded by his father William on property that he owned. Cooper became a member of the Episcopal Church shortly before his death and contributed generously to it. He attended Yale University for three years, where he was a member of the Linonian Society.
After a stint on a commercial voyage, Cooper served in the U.S. Navy as a midshipman, where he learned the technology of managing sailing vessels which greatly influenced many of his novels and other writings. The novel that launched his career was The Spy, a tale about espionage set during the American Revolutionary War and published in 1821. He also created American sea stories. His best-known works are five historical novels of the frontier period, written between 1823 and 1841, known as the Leatherstocking Tales, which introduced the iconic American frontier scout, Natty Bumppo. Cooper’s works on the U.S. Navy have been well received among naval historians, but they were sometimes criticized by his contemporaries. Among his most famous works is the Romantic novel The Last of the Mohicans, often regarded as his masterpiece. Throughout his career, he published numerous social, political, and historical works of fiction and non-fiction with the objective of countering European prejudices and nurturing an original American art and culture.