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Rural Hours

by Susan Fenimore Cooper

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In Rural Hours, Susan Fenimore Cooper (1813-1894), daughter of the famed novelist James Fenimore Cooper, records a year in the life of the fields and woods surrounding her home in Cooperstown, New York. She writes with a keen eye for detail, noting, for example, the disappearance of local species as their habitat is given over to farmland ("all kinds of black-birds are rare here; they are said to have been very numerous indeed at the settlement of the country, but have very much diminished in numbers of late years"), and keeping track of changes in the weather, fluctuations in animal populations, and like matters. Rural Hours is considered to be the first extended piece of nature writing by an American woman, and as such it should be of interest to a wide range of readers, from naturalists to students of regional literature and women's history. --Gregory McNamee



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