A. E. Coppard Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

A. E. Coppard published three slender volumes of poetry, Hips and Haws (1922), Pelagea and Other Poems (1926), and Cherry Ripe (1935), and two collections, Yokohama Garland (1926) and Collected Poems (1928). In 1957, he published his autobiography, It’s Me, O Lord!


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Though not widely known among general readers, Coppard has experienced a resurgence of popularity as a result of the adaptation of several of his stories for Masterpiece Theatre on public television. For both his mastery of the short-story form and his sensitive portrayal of English rural life, Coppard is an important figure in the development of the short story as a serious literary form. From a background of poverty and with no formal education, Coppard advanced through a number of clerical and accounting jobs in Oxford, reading and associating with the students there. Becoming increasingly active in political activities and writing for journals, Coppard eventually decided to write professionally. In the 1920’s and 1930’s, he was considered one of the foremost short-story writers in England. Coppard’s stories are frequently compared to those of Anton Chekhov and Thomas Hardy, whose influence Coppard acknowledged, and also to those of his contemporaries H. E. Bates and D. H. Lawrence. Although his poetry has not generated much acclaim, Coppard’s prose is eloquently lyrical, its evocation of mood and portrayal of emotion particularly noteworthy.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Allen, Walter. The Short Story in English. New York: Oxford University Press, 1981. Includes a brief analysis of Coppard’s “The Higgler,” suggesting that the story is as unpredictable as life itself, with nothing seemingly arranged or contrived by Coppard.

Bates, H. E. “Katherine Mansfield and A. E. Coppard.” In The Modern Short Story: A Critical Survey. London: Evensford Productions, 1972. Coppard’s contemporary and fellow author of short stories discusses Coppard’s role in the development of the modern English short story. Bates discerns an unfortunate influence of Henry James on Coppard’s work, which is remarkable in its Elizabethan lyricism and its homage to the oral tradition. Includes an index.

Beachcroft, T. O. The Modest Art: A Survey of the Short Story in English. New York: Oxford University Press, 1968. Discusses Coppard’s two basic generic veins—the highly fantastic in such stories as “Adam and Eve and Pinch Me,” and the naturalistic in stories such as “The Higgler” and “The Water Cress Girl.”

Cowley, Malcolm. “Book Reviews: Adam and Eve and Pinch Me.” The Dial 71, no. 1 (July, 1921): 93-95. Describes Coppard’s careful workmanship, his skillful narration, and his artful blend of fantasy and realism. Cowley notes Coppard’s emotional unity, his...

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