Cooper, Edward Herbert (DNB12)

COOPER, EDWARD HERBERT (1867–1910), novelist, born at Trentham on 6 Oct. 1867, was eldest son of Samuel Herbert Cooper of New Park, Trentham, and Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, by his wife Katharine, daughter of the Rev. Edward James Justinian George Edwards and grand-daughter of James Edwards [q. v.] the bibliographer.

Whilst at a preparatory school at Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, he contracted a chill, which led to a seven years' illness and made him a cripple for life. Prepared for Oxford by a private tutor, he matriculated at University College on 18 Oct. 1886, took third-class honours in history in 1889, and graduated B.A. in 1890. On leaving the university he was for a short time in the office of a firm of chartered accountants in London. He also engaged in political work as secretary of the Suffolk liberal unionist association at the general election of 1892, and of the Ulster Convention League in 1893. Soon adopting journalism as his profession, he joined in Paris the staff of 'Galignani's Messenger' in 1896, and acted as Paris correspondent of the 'New York World.' In 1901 he visited Finland and afterwards wrote in the London press on her constitutional struggle, and assisted in the preparation of the English version of N. C. Fredericksen's 'Finland: its Public and Private Economy' (1902). In 1903 he returned to London, and was for three years special reporter on the 'Daily Mail.' Meanwhile he attained some distinction both as a novelist and as a writer for children. His first novels, 'Richard Escott' (1893) and 'Geoffrey Hamilton' (1893), showed promise, and were followed by 'The Enemies’ (1896), a semi-political story. In 1897 he first proved his strength in ‘Mr. Blake of Newmarket’ (new edit. 1904), an excellent sporting novel, and in ‘The Marchioness against the County,’ a social satire.

Through life Cooper delighted in the companionship of children, whose psychology he carefully studied. He aided Benjamin Waugh [q. v. Suppl. II], the philanthropist, in practical efforts to protect children from cruelty or corruption. In 1899 he began a series of imaginative stories for children with ‘Wyemark and the Sea Fairies’ (a special edition, illustrated by Dudley Hardy), which was succeeded by ‘Wyemark and the Mountain Fairies’ (illustrated by Jacomb Hood, 1900); ‘Wyemark's Mother’ (1903); ‘Sent to the Rescue: or Wyemark's Adventures in South America’ (1903); and ‘My Brother the King’ (posthumous, 1910). The tales owed much to the suggestion of Lewis Carroll, but there was originality in their execution.

Cooper, whose features were marked by a rare refinement, bore his physical disabilities with courage and cheerfulness. In 1898, supported by two sticks, he made the new ascent of Mont Blanc, as far as the Col du Goûter. He died suddenly at Newmarket, from an apoplectic seizure, on 26 April 1910, and was buried in Kensal Green cemetery. He was unmarried.

Besides the works named, Cooper wrote: 1. ‘Resolved to be Rich,’ 1899. 2. ‘Children, Racehorses, and Ghosts’ (a collection of sketches), 1899. 3. ‘The Monk Wins,’ 1900. 4. ‘The Eternal Choice,’ 1901 (a more serious study). 5. ‘A Fool's Year’ (another sporting story), 1901. 6. ‘George and Son,’ 1902. 7. ‘The Gentleman from Goodwood,’ 1902; 3rd edit. 1909. 8. ‘The Viscountess Normanhurst,’ 1903 (a study of mother and child). 9. ‘Lord and Lady Aston,’ 1904. 10. ‘The Twentieth-Century Child,’ 1905 (a collection of essays). 11. ‘The Marquis and Pamela,’ 1908. 12. ‘The End of the Journey,’ 1908 (both pictures of smart society). 13. ‘A Newmarket Squire,’ 1910 (a novel of sport and child life).

[Private information and letters; Brit. Mus. Cat.; Foster's Alumni Oxonienses; Hist. Register of Oxf. University; The Times, and Daily Telegraph, 2 May 1910; Athenæum, and Staffordshire Sentinel, 7 May 1910; engraved portraits are in Lady's Pictorial, the Playgoer, and Society Illustrated—all 7 May 1910.]

G. Le G. N.