Welcome to Timemaster. This is David Minor, and in the weeks to come we'll
be time tripping, poking our metaphoric noses into the crannies and nooks
of our planet's busy history, seeing what and who we can turn up.
This week, let's go back 172 years, to 1824, and see what writers were up
A number of authors entered the world this year, unnoticed by that same
world, as all but royalty usually is.
In London, novelist Arthur Wilkie Collins, author of some of the earliest
detective novels such as The Moonstone and The Woman in White
, made his appearance. In an opposite corner of Europe, Serbian poet Branko
Radicevic entered the world.
And in another Balkan nation, George Gordon Noel Byron, the poet Lord Byron,
died in Missolonghi, where he had gone to lend his support to the Greeks
fighting for independence from their Turkish overlords.
Those writers not making earthly entrances and exits were also keeping themselves
Harriet Beecher Stowe was entering Connecticut's Hartford Female Seminary,
which had been founded by her older sister Catherine. Washington Irving
was publishing his Tales of a Traveler . Walter Scott's Redgauntlet
was in the hands of his publisher.
But no one seems to have been so busy as U. S. novelist James Cooper. (He'd
formally add the Fenimore to his name two years later, fulfilling a pledge
made to his mother.) In January, this former merchant seaman and three-year
Great Lakes naval midshipman, having read Walter Scott's sea romance The
Pirate , he decided he'd show the reading public what an authentic and
accurate sea story should be. He published The Pilot , a tale of
the American Revolution, with daring naval exploits off the enemy coast
of England (and in its manor houses). Four months later, in May, he was
changing his New York City residence, heading northward - as has befitted
Manhattan's up-and coming, until recent decades - moving from 3 Beach Street
to 345 Greenwich Street. In August he received an honorary Master of Arts
degree from Columbia University.
Shortly afterwards he took a trip back upstate, escorting four English noblemen,
one of whom, Edward Stanley, would become Prime Minister in the 1850s, on
a tour of the area around the southern edge of the Adirondack Mountains.
It was while the party was visiting Little Falls that Cooper looked at the
cataract there and said to himself, "I must place one of my old Indians
here." He did. The Indian's name was Chingachgook, and the result was
The Last of the Mohicans .
© 1996 David Minor / Eagles Byte
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