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March 14, 2013

James Fenimore Cooper to be inducted into state Writers Hall of Fame

James Fenimore Cooper was a year old when his father, a U.S. congressman, moved his family to the frontier settlement (now Cooperstown) he had founded in upstate New York. 

His writing has evoked both admiration and disdain. The Empire State Center for the Book recently announced the novelist will be inducted into the New York State Writers Hall of Fame. He will be enshrined along with seven other noted writers on June 4 at the Princeton Club of New York.

The Center for the Book is the organization that oversees the Hall of Fame. Writers Calvin Trillin, Alice McDermott, Marilyn Hacker and Walter Mosley are expected to be in attendance at the induction. Other deceased writers honored include Countee Cullen, Miguel Pinero and Maurice Sendak.

Some refer to Cooper as the first American novelist. In his lifetime he wrote 32 novels. “The Leatherstocking Tales” account for five of these novels about pioneer life.

According to, Cooper’s most popular work, “The Last of the Mohicans,” has remained one of the most widely read novels throughout the world, and it, along with the other four novels that make up “The Leatherstocking Tales,” has tremendously impacted the way many view both the American Indians and the frontier period of American history. 

Cooper was born in Burlington, N.J., on Sept. 15, 1789, and died on Sept. 14, 1851, at his home in Cooperstown — one day shy of his 62nd birthday.

The nominees into the New York State Writers Hall of Fame were chosen by a selection committee composed of Harold Augenbraum, executive director of the National Book Foundation; Jeffrey Cannell, deputy commissioner for Cultural Education of the New York State Education Department; Barbara Genco, retired librarian from Brooklyn Public Library and editor of Collection Management at Media Source; Brian Kenney, director of the White Plains Public Library; Brian McCarthy, associate publisher of the Library of America; Kathleen Masterson, director of the Literature Program at the New York State Council on the Arts; Bertha Rogers of Treadwell, executive director of Bright Hill Press and creator of the New York State Literary website and map; Rocco Staino, chairman of the Empire State Center for the Book;  and Hong Yao, associate coordinator collection development at Queens Library.

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