Sentimental Enough?: The Literary Context of Elinor Wyllys

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Susan Fenimore Cooper's novel, Elinor Wyllys (1845-6), entered the literary marketplace at an auspicious moment for sentimental and domestic fiction. In 1850, Susan Warner published The Wide, Wide World under the pseudonym Elizabeth Wetherell, and that book became the century's bestseller (the first American novel to sell more than one million copies), only to be eclipsed by the phenomenal sales of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin several years later. Numerous other novels in the same sentimental/domestic mode found wide audiences, yet Cooper's book soon vanished into obscurity, its authorship questioned.


Paper originally presented at the 14th Cooper Seminar, James Fenimore Cooper: His Country and His Art at the State University of New York College at Oneonta, July, 2003.