The Two Admirals

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"The Two Admirals" from James Fenimore Cooper. Prolific and popular American writer of the early 19th century (1789-1851).
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The Two Admirals

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"The Two Admirals" from James Fenimore Cooper. Prolific and popular American writer of the early 19th century (1789-1851).
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Editorial Reviews

This collection of 20 popular folktales, with historical and linguistics details, is a storyteller's guide. It explains how to best relate the tales and involve young listeners in creative activities that can enhance retention and inspire creativity. No index. Cooper's novel is based on the Jacobite War of 1745 when the great British and French fleets contested in the English Channel. This edition wisely places the scholarly appurtenances (notes, commentary, and emendations) after the text, thus preserving the textual integrity and readability. The historical introduction is by Donald Ringe of the U. of Kentucky. Paper edition (unseen), $14.95. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780887069079
  • Publisher: State University of New York Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/1990
  • Series: Writings of James Fenimore Cooper Series
  • Pages: 511
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

James Fenimore Cooper

James Fenimore Cooper was born in 1789 in New Jersey, the son of a wealthy land agent who founded Cooperstown in New York State. Cooper attended Yale, but was expelled in 1805 and spent five years at sea on merchant then naval ships. He married in 1811, and eventually settled in New York. Precaution, Cooper's first novel, was written in 1820 as a study of English manners; its successors, The Spy and The Pilot, written within the next three years, were more characteristic of the vein of military or seagoing romance that was to become typical of him. In 1823 he began the Leatherstocking Tales series of novels, centred on a shared Native American character at different periods of his life, for which he is chiefly remembered. Cooper's reputation as one of America's leading authors was quickly established, and spread to Europe by a long stay there from 1826, making him one of the first American writers popular beyond that country. After his return to America in 1832, however, conservative political essays and novels dramatising similar views, as well as critiques of American society and abuses of democracy, led to a decline in his popularity. James Fenimore Cooper died in 1851.


James Cooper (he added the Fenimore when he was in his 30s) was born September 15, 1789, in Burlington, New Jersey, to William Cooper and Elizabeth Fenimore Cooper. In 1790 the family moved to the frontier country of upstate New York, where William established a village he called Cooperstown. Although cushioned by wealth and William's status as landlord and judge, the Coopers found pioneering to be rugged, and only 7 of the 13 Cooper children survived their early years. All the hardship notwithstanding, according to family reports, the young James loved the wilderness. Years later, he wrote The Pioneers (1823) about Cooperstown in the 1790s, but many of his other books draw deeply on his childhood experiences of the frontier as well.

Cooper was sent to Yale in 1801 but he was expelled in 1805 for setting off an explosion in another student's room. Afterward, as a midshipman in the fledgling U.S. Navy, he made Atlantic passages and served at an isolated post on Lake Ontario. Cooper resigned his commission in 1811 to marry Susan Augusta De Lancey, the daughter of a wealthy New York State family. During the next decade, however, a series of bad investments and legal entanglements reduced his inheritance to the verge of bankruptcy.

Cooper was already 30 years old when, on a dare from his wife, he became a writer. One evening he threw down, in disgust, a novel he was reading aloud to her, saying he could write a better book himself. Susan, who knew that he disliked writing even letters, expressed her doubts. To prove her wrong he wrote Precaution, which was published anonymously in 1820. Encouraged by favorable reviews, Cooper wrote other books in quick succession, and by the time The Last of the Mohicans, his sixth novel, was published in 1827, he was internationally famous as America's first professionally successful novelist. Eventually he published 32 novels, as well as travel books and histories. Cooper invented the genre of nautical fiction, and in the figure of Nathaniel or "Natty" Bumppo (Hawkeye in The Last of the Mohicans) -- the central character in the five Leatherstocking Tales Cooper published between 1823 and 1841 -- he gave American fiction its first great hero.

Shortly after publishing The Last of the Mohicans, Cooper moved his family to Europe, but in 1833 he returned to America, moving back into his father's restored Mansion House in Cooperstown. He died there on September 14, 1851.

Author biography courtesy of Barnes & Noble Books.

Good To Know

Cooper was expelled from Yale due to his passion for pranks, which included training a donkey to sit in a professor's chair and setting a fellow student's room on fire.

Between 1822 and 1826 Cooper lived in New York City, and was a major player on its intellectual scene. He founded the Bread and Cheese Club, which had many high-profile members, including notable painters of the Hudson River School and writers like William Cullen Bryant.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      September 15, 1789
    2. Place of Birth:
      Burlington, New Jersey
    1. Date of Death:
      September 14, 1851
    2. Place of Death:
      Cooperstown, New York
    1. Education:
      Yale University (expelled in 1805)

Read an Excerpt

baronet returned to his residence, a sincere mourner for the loss of an only brother. A more unfortunate selection of an heir could not have been made, as Tom Wychecombe was, in reality, the son of a barrister in the Temple; the fancied likeness to the reputed father existing only in the imagination of his credulous uncle. CHAPTER II. " How fearful And dizzy 't is, to cast one's eyes so low! The crows, and choughs, that wing the midway air, Show scarce so gross as beetles! Half-way down Hangs one that gathers samphire! dreadful trade!" King Lear. This digression on the family of Wychecombe has led U3 far from the signal-station, the headland, and the fog, with which the tale opened. The little dwelling connected with the station stood at a short distance from the staff, sheltered, by the formation of the ground, from the bleak winds of the channel, and fairly embowered in shrubs and flowers. It was an humble cottage, that had been ornamented with more taste than was usual in England at that day. Its whitened walls, thatched roof, picketed garden, and trellised porch bespoke care and a mental improvement in the inmates, that were scarcely to be expected in persons so humbly employed as the keeper of the signal-staff, and his family. All near the house, too, was in the same excellent condition: for while the headland itself lay in common, this portion of it was enclosed in two or three pretty little fields, that weregrazedbya single horse, and a couple of cows. There were no hedges, however, the thorn not growing willingly in a situation so exposed; but the fields were divided by fences, neatly enough made of wood, that declared its own origin, having in fact been part of thetimbers and planks of a wreck. As the whole was white-washed, it had a rustic, and in a clim...
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Table of Contents



Historical Introduction

Preface [1842]

Preface to The Two Admirals [1851]

The Two Admirals

Explanatory Notes

Textual Commentary

Note on the Manuscript

Textual Notes


Rejected Readings


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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 3 of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 7, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Did James Fenimore Cooper invent the "cliffhanger?"

    We first meet dashing young British Naval Lieutenant Wycherly Wychecombe hauling himself up a cliff by a very thin rope. The time was June 1745. The place, the English county of Devon and its southern coast abutting the English Channel. The Lieutenant (let's call him WW for short), a third generation Virginian, has been six weeks recuperating near the ancient village of Wychecombe which lies back a bit from the high cliffs looking down on a small, little used sheltered bay. WW has fallen in love with beautiful young Mildred, reputed daughter of 40-something Frank Dutton. Lieutenant WW scrambles down a steep cliff in a fog to pick flowers for Mildred. A part of his rocky path crumbles and he is stranded. He quickly procures from above a rope that is part of the naval signaling station run by Dutton and, sailorlike, swings himself to safety. *****

    Meanwhile, masts of a powerful British fleet of 16 ships are glimpsed rising
    through the thick fog anchoring in the bay, a sight never seen before. "Twin admirals" and best friends Vice Admiral Sir Gervaise Oakes and Rear Admiral Richard Bluewater, a third generation naval officer, command the fleet. They are greeted by local VIP Baronet Sir Wycherly Wychecombe (same name as our Lieutenant WW, though neither asserts kinship). Word arrives that Bonnie Prince Charlie has landed in Scotland and that the clans are rising to restore the Stuarts and kick out the Hanoverians. Sir Wycherly Wychecombe is up late into the night toasting the ruling German dynasty and suddenly keels over in an apoleptic fit. He will die in not too many hours while begging the two admirals to help him write a new will against his nephew, Tom, acknowledged but illegitimate son of his recently dead brother, a judge. *****

    When Admiral Bluewater's eyes first light on the fair Mildred, it is as if he is looking at his long dead, supposedly, unmarried first love, Agnes Hedworth, whom both his brother, an army colonel Gregory Wychecombe, as well as Admiral Oakes had loved. *****

    The gothic novel craze has passed its peak by 1842 when James Fenimore Cooper wrote THE TWO ADMIRALS, A SEA TALE. But an element or two of gothic are retained in this sea novel: that of mysterious identities, lost heirs and low-born beauties who turn out to be of noble blood. Politically, several strands are woven into the tale: Virginian WW's resentment of being considered inferior by native Britons and the powerful sudden appeal to Tories made by gallant Prince Charles Edward's appearing without an army to raise his father's standard in faraway Scotland. In particular, Admiral Bluewater is loyal to the Stuarts and increasingly tempted to resign his commission in the Hanoverian navy to go north to fight for the rightful King's son. Only about a quarter of the novel's text goes to a mighty battle in stormy seas between the outgunned British and the hostile French who may be trying to help Prince Charles. This is a fascinating story of strained loyalties, inrigue, heroism and derring-do. Enjoy! -OOO-

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted December 26, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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