James Fenimore Cooper’s knowledge of the French and Indian War may have been sketchy, but he was interested enough in its history to contemplate a visit to Lake George, which he finally did with a party of Englishmen in August, 1824.
Lord Edward Stanley, who would later become the 14th Earl of Derby and Great Britain’s Prime Minister during the reign of Queen Victoria, was a member of the party. As they crossed the Hudson River at Glens Falls on the return trip to Saratoga, Stanley noted in his journal, “Cooper… was much struck with the scenery which he had not before seen; and exclaimed, ‘I must place one of my old Indians here.” Continue reading
In early February 1826, Carey & Lea, one of the nation’s most prominent and successful publishers, announced the publication of James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans: A Narrative of 1757. Cooper was already a best-selling author, widely hailed for presenting non-stop, exciting adventures set in the wilderness, wartime, or other bracing settings. Carey & Lea, hoping that his new book would do as well as his previous ones, had paid the author a $5,000 advance.
They were not to be disappointed. The Last of the Mohicans was an instant best-seller, reprinted many times, made into movies a number of times, and became one of the most important books in American literary history. Continue reading
The James Fenimore Cooper Society is seeking papers for a panel on James Fenimore Cooper and Politics at the 25rd Annual Conference of the American Literature Association, to be held in Washington DC at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill from May 22-25th, 2014.
Throughout his full range of writings, James Fenimore Cooper was a keen observer of national politics and government. The panel will consider issues of government, governance, and/or politics in Cooper’s fictional and non-fictional writings and/or Cooper’s own engagement with the political. Continue reading
The Fenimore Art Museum has opened a new exhibition titled Picturing Women: American Art from the Permanent Collections. These images of women, assembled from the Museum’s extensive collection of American art, are distinct from the mainstream European portraiture of the upper class and aristocracy that we have become accustomed to. The rise of the United States’ middle class created a demand for all manner of paintings of the people who were settling the countryside and forming the social, commercial and religious communities that are still with us to this day.
Picturing Women: American Art from the Permanent Collections offers a selection of works that illustrates not only the appearances of these women, but also symbolizes the lives and contributions of these women to American culture. The exhibition is on view through December 31.
Other exhibitions currently on view at Fenimore Art Museum include John Singer Sargent: Portraits in Praise of Women (through December 31, 2010), Empire Waists, Bustles and Lace: A Century of New York Fashion (through December 31, 2010), Watermark: Michele Harvey & Glimmerglass (through December 31, 2010), Virtual Folk: A Blog Readers’ Choice (through December 31, 2010). Ongoing Exhibitions include Eugene and Clare Thaw Collection of American Indian Art, The Coopers of Cooperstown, Genre Paintings from the Permanent Collection, and American Memory: Recalling the Past in Folk Art.
Museum hours: through October 11 (10 am – 5 pm), October 12 – December 31 (10 am – 4 pm) Adult admission (13-64) is $12.00 and senior admission (65 and up) is $10.50. Children 12 and under are free as well as NYSHA members, active military, and retired career military. Visit their website for more information at www.fenimoreartmuseum.org.
Illustration: Mrs. George Hyde Clarke (Ann Low Cary, widow of Richard Fenimore Cooper), 1835, by Charles Cromwell Ingham (1796-1863). Oil on canvas.
Thursday, July 16, 2009, at 6 pm, War of 1812 sailor Ned Myers will be telling his lively tale of the sinking of the Hamilton & the Scourge at the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Discovery Center in Sackets Harbor, N.Y. To be completely accurate, an authentically costumed James H. Fischer will relate the story of the famous shipwrecks’ survivor in this presentation for the 2009 Great Lakes Seaway Trail Experience Series. Fischer’s presentation will also include a series of Jacques Cousteau slides of lake bottom vessels.
Seaman Myers lived to tell his story to noted American author James Fenimore Cooper. Fischer, a marine consultant who has studied the underwater history of Lake Ontario for 22 years, draws on Myers’ narrative as told to Cooper for A Life Before the Mast. Fischer shares fascinating details of the moments before a squall surprised captain and crew.
The wrecks of the two merchant ships – Hamilton, built as Diana in Oswego, NY, and the Scourge, originally Lord Nelson, were discovered in 1973 and are considered to have national historic significance to both the U.S. and Canada.
The $5 program fee benefits educational programming at the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Discovery Center, Ray and West Main Streets, Sackets Harbor, NY. For more information, visit www.seawaytrail.com or call 315-646-1000.
Photo: James H. Fischer in 19th century sailor’s dress is seen below the bust of U.S. merchant ship Diana purchased in Oswego and converted in Sacketts Harbour in 1812 as the US naval warship Hamilton.