Susan Cooper Biography


(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Susan Mary Cooper was born on May 23, 1935, in Burnham, Buckinghamshire, England. She attended Somerville College of Oxford University, receiving her master's degree in 1956. Upon graduation she was hired as a reporter and feature writer for the London Sunday Times, where she worked from 1956 to 1963. In 1963 she married Nicholas J. Grant, a college professor, with whom she had two children. She and her husband moved to the United States later that year, and from 1963 to 1972 Cooper was a columnist for the Western Mail, Cardiff, Wales.

In 1965 Cooper published in England a book based upon her dispatches, Behind the Golden Curtain: A View of the U.S.A., which appeared in America a year later. Her first fantasy novel, Over Sea, Under Stone, came out in 1965. She did not originally envision this book as part of a series, and eight years passed before she published a sequel, The Dark Is Rising (1973), which became the title for the series of Arthurian fantasies that followed—Greenwitch (1974), The Grey King (1975), and Silver on the Tree (1977).

In the meantime Cooper produced three other books: a collection of writings by J. B. Priestly, entitled Essays of Five Decades (1968); Priestly: Portrait of an Author (1970); and a realistic novel for children. Dawn of Fear (1970). She also wrote a book for younger children, Jethro and the Jumbie (1979). During the 1980s...

(The entire section is 300 words.)


(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

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...

(The entire section is 449 words.)