|Cooper was born in New Jersey, but the family moved soon after to the family estate in Cooperstown, New York. Cooper began studying at Yale, but was expelled at 17 and went to sea, eventually serving as a midshipman in the Navy from 1808 to 1811. He left the Navy at 22, married, and settled in Scarsdale, New York, in 1817, where he became a gentleman farmer. On a bet with his wife, he wrote a novel when he was 30, a novel of manners that was not a great success. He was, however, hooked, and his second attempt, THE SPY, was the beginning of his long career as an enormously successful author. He moved to New York City, frequently traveled abroad, and served as the U.S. consul in Lyons. Cooper became an arch-conservative in his later years, disappointed in the American character and in what he considered the failures of democracy, often stating his views in print and fiercely attacked for them by the press; he regularly sued for libel, arguing his own case, and usually won. In his 50s, he retired to Cooperstown, where he continued his incredibly prolific output of novels, historical works, biographies, romances, polemics, one play, and his last work, WAYS OF THE HOUR, a precursor of the modern mystery novel.