The William Roberts Society




William Roberts:

A. E. Coppard



Illustration © The Estate of John David Roberts. Reproduced with the permission of the William Roberts Society. Text © David Cleall, from the April 2015 William Roberts Society Newsletter


A. E. Coppard

A. E. Coppard, 1927
Pencil, 27.3 cm x 24.1 cm

Drawing used as a frontispiece to New Coterie no. 6 (summer and autumn 1927).
The short-story writer and poet Alfred Edgar Coppard (1878–1957) was born in Folkestone, the eldest of four children of a tailor and a housemaid. Aged 9, he left school to help provide for his family when his father died, and by the age of 20 he had worked for a street seller of paraffin and firewood, an auctioneer, a cheesemonger, a soap agent and a carrier. After several years in the office of an engineering firm, in 1907 he moved to Oxford as a clerk in an ironworks. He used prize money won as a spare-time athlete to buy books and develop his early taste for reading and study, and on 1 April 1919, with savings of £50, he left his job to become a full-time writer. His first collection of stories, Adam and Eve and Pinch Me, was published in 1921, and many others followed. His stories often present a woman's point of view, and sympathise with the misfit and the underdog faced with the unpredictability of life.
Coppard was the uncle of George Coppard, a British soldier who served with the Machine Gun Corps during the First World War and whose 1969 memoir With a Machine Gun to Cambrai inspired WR's On the Wire 1972.
PROVENANCE: Wyndham T. Vint > ? > Christie's online, 2–13 Dec. 2016 (£10,625)
EXHIBITION HISTORY: Cheltenham 1937




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