Susan Fenimore Cooper



Susan Fenimore Cooper is remembered as America’s first female nature writer. Raised in Cooperstown, New York, once wild and uncharted territory, Cooper wrote essays that are littered with botanical insight and early observations of America’s natural history. Cooper’s father, James Fenimore Cooper (author of The Last of the Mohicans), maintained a close companionship with his daughter. They often served as editors of each other’s work. Cooper’s attachment to her father, combined with her father’s overbearing nature, may have contributed to Cooper’s decision never to marry. After being approached by several suitors, Cooper turned them all away because her father disapproved. Cooper’s first published work was a novel titled, Elinor Wyllys (1846), which she wrote under the pseudonym, Amabel Penfeather. Cooper’s most successful work however, is a nonfiction collection titled, Rural Hours (1850). Rural Hours is a collection of essays, published in journal form, in which Cooper presents, “the simple record of those little events which make up the course of the seasons in rural life.” Rural Hours was so successful that it was republished ten times from 1850 to 1998. After establishing her notoriety with Rural Hours, Cooper went on to write more nature essays in popular publications such as, The Atlantic Monthly, The Freeman’s Journal, Grahm’s Magazine, Harper’s New Monthly, and Putnam’s Magazine. Cooper also established herself as a successful editor for five additional books, future anthologies of her father’s works, and several monthly magazines. Cooper’s writing style is joyful and precise, often incorporating botanical knowledge with her Christian faith. Cooper’s writing presents a talented balance of science and religion, while unknowingly establishing an early record of America’s natural history. (Justin King Rademaekers)

Essays by Susan Fenimore Cooper


The views, after leaving the woods, were beautifully clear and distinct.

The Hudson River and its early names

This Western hemisphere, shrouded in mystery, has no primeval names to repeat to us for the noble streams flowing from its heart.
Patrick Madden's New Book
Quotidiana by Patrick Madden

Quotidiana site founder Patrick Madden has just published a book of his own personal essays, including pieces formerly published in the Best American Spiritual Writing and Best Creative Nonfiction anthologies. If you enjoy the classical essays on this site, you'll enjoy these contemporary ruminations as well. Soon there'll be a web page here with further information, but for now, you can find out more (and perhaps purchase a copy) at

"Patrick Madden is an essayist of verve, passion, wit, and dependable moral compass. Quotidiana drew me in powerfully, from page to page and from pleasure to pleasure." —Ian Frazier

2011 Symposium on the Essay
Welcome Table Press Symposium on the Essay

Friend of Quotidiana Kim Dana Kupperman's Welcome Table Press is hosting a one-day symposium at Fordham University on Saturday, October 15th, 2011. In Praise of the Essay: Practice & Form will feature talks and discussions by Phillip Lopate, Robin Hemley, Barbara Hurd, and more.


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