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Tea Party Winners: Carla Gade's winner is Becky Dempsey, Andrea Boeshaar's winner Caryl Kane, Gina Welborn's winner Jasmine A., Carrie Fancett Pagels' winners book copy -- Lynda Edwards, teacup and saucer -- Wendy Shoults

Monday, October 30, 2017

An Autumn visit with Early American Authors


With the season comes a look back at classic ‘autumn’ fare, like pumpkin-spiced everything, and wishes for the beauty of lovely falling leaves.  As a native New Yorker (remember, it’s a big, rural state), I feel October is generally the perfect representation of autumn. It’s also a perfect time to look at the contributions of two authors who head the list of great American writers, for they are two of the earliest to gain popular success and open a window into our colonial history.
Cooper via Wikipedia
James Fenimore Cooper was born in 1789 in New Jersey but moved at an early age with his large Quaker family to the Hudson River valley (now upstate New York) where his father began a settlement he named Cooperstown.  James was well-educated, and as the 11th of 12 children benefited from an easy time of it at home. After James served a number of years in the U.S. Navy, he came home to a decent income after his father’s death. James Cooper was devoted to history and writing, and he was the first to use the American Revolution as setting. “The Spy” was based on his loyalist wife’s family history, but his series “Leatherstocking Tales”, in 1823, will always be his best known. The public was fascinated with this look ‘back’ at the French and Indian War era. “Last of the Mohicans” published in 1826 continues to be  his most well known novel.

Cooper Statue, in Cooperstown, NY . Wikipedia

In later years, his writing became a more idealized look at early American life.  He became quite involved in intellectual community and kept company with William Cullen Bryant, Samuel Finley Breese Morse, and James Kent. With such a background, it’s no surprise he became highly political near the end of his life.

http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/thomas-cole/scene-from-the-last-of-the-mohicans-cora-kneeling-at-the-feet-of-tanemund-1827
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Washington Irving was born in 1783 in New York City.  He was always interested in writing and wrote many serialized stories for newspapers even as he studied law.  He passed the bar in 1806 but preferred writing, even when he took a turn serving during the War of 1812.  In 1819-20, his published work “The Sketch Book” became a huge success and included “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”.

Washington Irving (Wikipedia)


Later in life, Washington Irving put a huge amount of research into much more serious works and published  “A History of the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus”,  “Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada”, and “Tales of the Alhambra”. Irving served the U.S. Government for three years in London. His next works added a frontier theme with “Astoria” (about John Jacob Aster’s fur company), and “The Adventures of Captain Bonneville".  If you’re like me, you’ve never heard of these publications!
Irving, (Wikipedia)

Hopefully schoolchildren continue to learn about these two early American authors and their works. I just wonder if they will remember more than…the headless horseman!

 I love the history of my area and visiting the Leatherstocking area of New York State any time of year. Have a wonderful Autumn season wherever you are!
Debra




7 comments:

  1. I haven't read most of these author's works, but I'm interested in their look at history. Reading 19th century fiction also helps authors find the voice of that era.
    Thanks for reading. I look forward to your comments!

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    1. Love these authors! Grew up on them! Thanks for the lovely post!

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    2. What's funny is the big differences between the original works and the adaptations! But I always get a small delight when I'm traveling and see "The Leatherstocking Region" sign. At least NY is good at recognizing its history.

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  2. We haven't lived in NY for many year but I consider that my home state. I know where Cooperstown is! Both of my parents are from upstate NY. They were both born in Troy! There are still many family members on both sides still living there. On my dad;s side his family started Rensselaer County, NY! I'm very proud of my Ny heritage.

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    1. NY has such an amazing history as a state. It's a treasure. Troy is a lovely area, Beverly!

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  3. We have visited Cooperstown while we lived in the Finger Lakes region of NY state. I am quite sure I must have seen Cooper's statue and read the history of his life. However, my husband was a baseball player, so the Baseball Hall of Fame was why we went there...lol. Thanks for all the history - it is always good to know more.

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  4. Sadly, I have never been to New York. I have read some of the works of these authors. It is always interesting to see the movie adaptations compared to the actual book.

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