Author(s): James Fenimore Cooper
Cooper's first major success, "The Spy" is also his first book set in the period of the American War of Independence. The story starts in 1870 in the area of the country, which was between British-held New York and the Continental Army in the Hudson River Valley and upstate New York. The household of Mr Wharton and his daughters is visited by the three main protagonists of the story: the mysterious Mr Harper, an American loyalist; Captain Henry Wharton, the son of the house and an officer in the British Army; and Mr Harvey Birch, suspected of being a British spy. The differing loyalties of these men are reflected in the differing loyalties of the household they visit with the father trying to remain neutral, his daughter Sarah a supporter of the British and his other daughter Frances supporting the American rebels. The futures of these characters become inextricably linked as they face not only the perils of war, but also the sufferings of the human heart. This is a compelling adventure, which brings to life all the dangers, heartbreak and hope of a society at war with itself.
About the author:
James Fenimore Cooper was born on 15 September 1789 in Burlington, New Jersey. After being expelled from Yale his father gained him a commission in the U.S. Navy, which he resigned in 1811 to marry Susan Augusta de Lancey. In 1820 he published his first book, Precaution, a tale of manners and morals set in England. His next book, The Spy: A Tale of the Neutral Ground, was set in America and this was to be the setting for the rest of his novels, including the five 'Leatherstocking' novels for which he is best known (The Pioneers, The Last of the Mohicans, The Prairie, The Pathfinder and The Deerslayer). However, Cooper's work extended beyond fiction and among other factual works he wrote a number of travel books, histories of the American Navy and The American Democrat, which was intended to be a textbook for high school pupils. He died on 14 September 1851. Altogether he published 32 works of fiction and 12 works of non-fiction as well as numerous pamphlets and articles and is considered to be the first successful American novelist.