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Cover illustration by Carl Offterdinger for a German 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 the 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 historyEdit

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, which discrepancies Cooper likely introduced for the sake of convenience. For instance, Cooper manipulated time to avoid making Leatherstocking 100 years old when he traveled to the Kansas plains in The Prairie.[citation needed]

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 likened Bumppo to Sir Walter Scott's "middling characters; 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. He is present in all the books except for The Prairie, as he dies of old age in The Pioneers [5].
  • Uncas, son of Chingachgook, "last of the Mohicans",[6] grew to manhood, but was killed in a battle with the hostile scout Magua. In actual history, a man named Uncas was a chief of the Mohegan in the 1600s [7]. Though only a prominent figure in The Last of the Mohicans, he is mentioned as a boy at the very end of The Deerslayer, only once by name in The Pathfinder, and several times in The Prairie.

Onscreen adaptations of the novelsEdit

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, e.g., in:

  • The serial film Leatherstocking (1924)
  • The Last of the Mohicans (1936), the 1992 film is based on the screenplay of this film.
  • The Last of the Mohicans (1992), in which Hawkeye's surname was changed from Bumppo to Poe
  • The Pathfinder (1996), where he is known chiefly as Pathfinder, but his birth name of Nathaniel is also mentioned

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

WQED (TV) Pittsburgh's Once Upon A Classic children's television series produced a four-episode adaptation entitled Leatherstocking Tales (1979), which won one Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Children's Series and was nominated for another for writing. The main character’s name is Natty Bumppo, though other nicknames appear.

In popular cultureEdit


  1. ^ Taylor, Alan. William Cooper's Town.
  2. ^ Lukacs 69-72
  3. ^ James Fenimore Cooper Society's online plot summaries of the chronologically first (The Deerslayer)
  4. ^ The Prairie novels, indicating the initial and final years of the Leatherstocking saga
  5. ^ The Pioneers[1]
  6. ^ "Uncas will be the last pure-blooded Mohican because there are no pure-blooded Mohican women for him to marry." University of Houston study guide
  7. ^ Chief Uncas[2]

Works citedEdit

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

Original worksEdit

  • Cooper, James Fenimore (2015). The Complete Leatherstocking Tales, Vol. I. Ex Fontibus Company. ISBN 978-1514721759.
  • Cooper, James Fenimore (2015). The Complete Leatherstocking Tales, Vol. II. Ex Fontibus Company. ISBN 978-1514721803.
  • Cooper, James Fenimore & Nevins, Allan (Editor) (1954). The Leatherstocking Saga. Pantheon Books.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)

Further readingEdit

  • Pickering, James H. & Test, George A. (Editor). "Cooper's Otsego Heritage: The Sources of The Pioneers". James Fenimore Cooper: His Country and His Art (Papers from the 1979 Conference at State University College of New York, Oneonta and Cooperstown). pp. 11–39.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  • Rans, Geoffrey (1991). Cooper's Leather-Stocking Novels: A Secular Reading. University of North Carolina Press.
  • White, Craig (2006). Student Companion to James Fenimore Cooper. Greenwood Publishing. pp. 59–185. ISBN 0313334137.

External linksEdit