Susan Mary Cooper was born on May 23, 1935, in Bumham, Buckinghamshire, England. She spent the first eighteen years of her life in this industrial town twenty miles from London. In 1953 she enrolled in Oxford University, where she earned her master's degree in English in 1956.
Cooper began writing early in her life. In her autobiography she relates that the busiest time of her writing life was when she turned ten years old, when she wrote three plays for a puppet theatre, collaborated on a weekly newspaper, and wrote and illustrated her own small book. In high school she edited the school magazine, and was the first woman to edit the undergraduate newspaper at Oxford.
Many of Cooper's subjects and themes derive from her childhood experiences during World War II. The Nazi bombings of London furnished her with material for Dawn of Fear, an autobiographical novel about the air raids. She believes the war furnished her with a concrete experience of the conflict between good and evil. For her the "something" that might be lurking in the shadow behind the bedroom door at night was not a vague bogeyman but a German soldier. Cooper sees this potential for evil in all humans, and has addressed the duality of human nature in many of her books.
Cooper learned the folk tales, myths, and legends of Buckinghamshire, Cornwall, and North Wales while growing up, and they have a prominent place in many of her books for young adults. Stories...
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