Leatherstocking Tales

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Cover illustration by Carl Offterdinger for a youth edition of James Fenimore Cooper's Leatherstocking Tales.
1989 USSR stamp, on themes of James Fenimore Cooper's Leatherstocking Tales

The Leatherstocking Tales is a series of five novels by American writer James Fenimore Cooper set in the eighteenth century era of development in primarily former Iroquois areas in central New York. Each novel features Natty Bumppo, a frontiersman known to European-American settlers as "Leatherstocking," "The Pathfinder," and "the trapper". Native Americans call him "Deerslayer," "La Longue Carabine" (Long Rifle in French), and "Hawkeye."

Publication history[edit]

Title Subtitle
The Deerslayer The First War Path
The Last of the Mohicans A Narrative of 1757
The Pathfinder The Inland Sea
The Pioneers The Sources of the Susquehanna; A Descriptive Tale
The Prairie A Tale

The "Story Dates" are derived from dates given in the tales, and span the period roughly of 1740-1806. They do not necessarily correspond with the actual dates of the historical events described in the series. Cooper likely did this for convenience. For instance, Cooper manipulated time to avoid making Leatherstocking 100 years old when he traveled to the Kansas plains in The Prairie.

The Natty Bumppo character is generally believed to have been inspired, at least in part, by the historic explorer Daniel Boone or the lesser known David Shipman.[1][page needed] Critic Georg Lukacs identified Bumppo as similar to the middling characters of Sir Walter Scott. Because they do not represent the extremes of society, these figures can serve as tools for the social and cultural exploration of historical events, without directly portraying the history itself.[2]


  • Natty Bumppo is the protagonist of the series: an Anglo-American raised in part by Native Americans, and later a near-fearless warrior (his chief weapon is the long rifle). He and his Mohican "brother" Chingachgook are constant companions. He is known as "Deerslayer" in The Deerslayer, "Hawkeye" and "La Longue Carabine" in The Last of the Mohicans, "Pathfinder" in The Pathfinder, "Leatherstocking" in The Pioneers, and "the trapper" in The Prairie. The novels recount significant events in Natty Bumppo's life from 1740-1806.[3][4]
  • Chingachgook is a Mohican chief and companion of Bumppo. His son Uncas, "last of the Mohicans",[5] grew to manhood, but was killed in a battle with the hostile scout Magua. A man named Uncas was an historic chief of the Mohican.

Adaptations of novels[edit]

Several films have been adapted from one or more of this series of Cooper's novels. Some used one of Bumppo's nicknames, most often Hawkeye, to identify this character.

Two Canadian TV series were based on the character of Leatherstocking:

Representation in other media[edit]


Works cited[edit]

  • Lukacs, Georg (1969). The Historical Novel. Penguin Books. 

Original works[edit]

  • James Fenimore Cooper, The Complete Leatherstocking Tales, Vol. I, Ex Fontibus Company, 2015. ISBN 978-1514721759
  • James Fenimore Cooper, The Complete Leatherstocking Tales, Vol. II, Ex Fontibus Company, 2015. ISBN 978-1514721803
  • James Fenimore Cooper, The Leatherstocking Saga, edited by Allan Nevins, Pantheon Books, 1954.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]