James Fenimore Cooper (September 15, 1789 – September 14, 1851) was a prolific and popular American writer of the first half of the 19th century. His historical romances draw a picture of frontier and American Indian life in the early American days which created a unique form of American literature. He lived most of his life in Cooperstown, New York, which was founded by his father William on property that he owned. Cooper was a lifelong member of the Episcopal Church and contributed generously to it. He attended Yale University for three years, where he was a member of the Linonian Society, but he was expelled for misbehavior.
Cooper served in the U.S. Navy as a midshipman, which greatly influenced many of his novels and other writings. The novel that launched his career was The Spy, a tale about counter-espionage set during the American Revolutionary War and published in 1821.He also wrote numerous sea stories, and his best-known works are five historical novels of the frontier period known as the Leatherstocking Tales. 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 (although it was mercilessly mocked by Mark Twain).