Featured Author: Susan Cooper
Susan Fenimore Cooper (1813–1894), daughter of the novelist, traveled with her father in his later years and acted as his secretary. But she also kept a journal of her own, which she worked into her book Rural Hours, first published in 1850. Her voice is clear and compelling, and her eye is sharp—she stands in the last generation of eastern Americans who could plausibly recall the era when the farm fields “belonged to a wilderness,” home of “the bear, the wolf, and the panther.”
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She describes with great accuracy the ecological transitions that followed the arrival of Europeans in North America, including what we would now call the rise of invasive species. And she provides an early and altogether pleasing version of what would eventually be called the “nature essay,” that form that gathers in power even as the integrity that it describes deteriorates.