The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XV. Colonial and Revolutionary Literature; Early National Literature, Part I.
§ 5. D. P. Thompson
One novelist of New England before Hawthorne, however, still has a wide, healthy public. Daniel Pierce Thompson (1795–1868) knew the Vermont frontier as Cooper knew that of New York. After many struggles with the bitterest poverty he got to Middlebury College, studied law, became a prominent official of his native state, and somewhat accidentally took to fiction. Of his half-dozen novels, which all possess a good share of honest realism, Locke Amsden (1847) gives perhaps the most truthful record of frontier life, but The Green Mountain Boys (1840) is the classic of Vermont. It is concerned with the struggles of the Vermonters for independence first from New York and second from Great Britain; its hero is the famous Ethan Allen. Thompson had none of Cooper’s poetry and was little concerned with the magic of nature. He took over most of the tricks of the older novelists, their stock types and sentiments. But he made little effort to preach, he could tell a straight story plainly and rapidly, and he touched action with rhetoric in just the proportion needed to sell fifty editions of the book by 1860 and to make it in the twentieth century a standard book for boys which is by far the most popular romance of the immediate school of Cooper.