By: Susan Fennimore Cooper
The editors have assembled here a collection of ten pieces by Susan Fenimore Cooper (1813-1894), the daughter of James Fenimore Cooper, that represent her most accomplished nature writing and the fullest articulation of her environmental principles. With one exception, these essays have not been available in print since their original appearance in Cooper's lifetime. A portrait of her thoughts on nature and how we should live and think in relation to it, this collection both contextualizes Cooper's magnum opus, "Rural Hours" (1850) and demonstrates how she perceived her work as a nature writer. Frequently, her essays are models of how to catch and keep the interest of a reader when writing about plants, animals and our relationship to the physical environment. By lamenting the decline of bird populations, original forests and overall biodiversity, she champions preservation and invokes a collective environmental conscience that would not begin to awaken until the end of her life and century. The selections include independent essays, miscellaneous introductions and prefaces and the first three instalments from Cooper's work of literary ornithology, "Otsego Leaves", arguably her most mature and fully realized contribution to American environmental writing. In addition to a foreword by John Elder, one of America's leading environmental educators, an introduction analyses each essay in various cultural contexts. Brief textual notes supplement the essays.
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