Cooper decided to become a writer, but the explanations for this decision are still not clear. Prior to the age of 30, Cooper had never composed a serious work of literature; according to some sources, he regarded even the writing of letters as an onerous task. One reason for his decision may, of course, be his financial position, although a lack of money and the attendant need to earn it do not give one the ability to write. However, one reason for his decision is often mentioned: Cooper, reading a mediocre English romance, said casually to his wife that he could write a better book, and she challenged him to do so. In 1820, Cooper published Precaution, a romance in imitation of the popular books of Jane Austen, with a background of English drawing room conversations and gossip. But Precaution won Cooper little praise from critics or the public. Despite his failure to produce a worthwhile novel, Cooper was not discouraged; and he found a
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