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The Leatherstocking Tales by James Fenimore Cooper

Content last modified October 2012


The Leatherstocking Tales, by American novelist, historian, and social critic James Fenimore Cooper, relate the adventures of frontiersman Natty Bumppo. Known as Leatherstocking, Hawkeye, and Pathfinder, among other names, Bumppo is introduced as a young man in The Deerslayer, the first novel in terms of content but the last to be published. The novels tell of his adventures living a life of freedom in the wilderness of New York and of his retreat from the advance of civilization. They end with his old age and death in the Great Plains region of the West. Reflected in the series are Cooper's views on the importance of individual freedom in society.

Considered classics of American literature, the Leatherstocking Tales set the pace for future writers of western and frontier stories. They have been widely translated and portions have been dramatized on "Masterpiece Theatre."

Following is a list of the five Leatherstocking Tales in chronological order of their contents. All editions are available from NLS network library collections.

The Deerslayer; or, The First Warpath

Classic novel of Natty Bumppo, also known as Deerslayer, and his days as a young hunter among the Delaware Indians. A rousing story of warfare between the Indians and the white settlers around Lake Otsego before 1745. 1841.

DB 22249

RC 22249

BRA 8381

The Last of the Mohicans

During the 1757 siege of Fort William Henry on Lake George by the French and Iroquois, two daughters of its commander set out from a neighboring fort to join their father. 1826.

DB 19920

RC 19920

BR 4092

The Pathfinder; or, The Inland Sea

Upstate New York, French and Indian War. Frontiersman Natty Bumppo, nicknamed Leatherstocking, lives near Lake Ontario. He falls in love with Mabel Dunham, a sergeant’s daughter, and wants to settle down to raise a family. Meanwhile treachery abounds among the native and European combatants. 1840.

DB 59262

RC 11072

BRA 4180

The Pioneers; or, The Sources of the Susquehanna

Northern New York frontier, 1823. Settlers in the foothills turn the wilderness into farmland and villages. Judge Temple and his daughter, Elizabeth, help to establish a new civilization, while the natives and frontiersmen are driven out. Old hunter Natty Bumppo, called Leatherstocking, observes the changing environment with regret. 1823.

DB 59281

RC 10816

The Prairie

Early 1800s. Civilization drives old hunter Natty Bumppo (Leatherstocking) west of the Mississippi to the prairies, where he becomes a trapper and helps a band of emigrants in their conflicts with Indians, miscreants, and the harsh environment. 1827.

DB 52639

RC 12233

BRA 1265

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Posted on 2014-12-02