Susan Cooper

Susan Mary Cooper (born 23 May 1935) is an English author of children's books. She is best known for The Dark Is Rising, a contemporary fantasy series set in England and Wales, which incorporates British mythology, such as the Arthurian legends, and Welsh folk heroes.[1] For that work, in 2012 she won the lifetime Margaret A. Edwards Award from the American Library Association, recognizing her contribution to writing for teens.[2] In the 1970s two of the five novels were named the year's best English-language book with an "authentic Welsh background" by the Welsh Books Council.[3]

Susan Cooper
Cooper in September 2013
Cooper in September 2013
Born23 May 1935 (age 83)
Burnham, Buckinghamshire, England, UK
Alma materSomerville College, Oxford
GenreChildren's fantasy novels
Notable worksThe Dark Is Rising series
Notable awardsNewbery Medal
Margaret A. Edwards Award
  • Nicholas Grant
    (m. 1963–1983)
  • Hume Cronyn
    (m. 1996; his death 2003)


Cooper was born in 1935 in Burnham, Buckinghamshire, to Ethel Maybelle (née Field) and her husband Bob Richard Cooper.[4] Her father had worked in the reading room of the Natural History Museum until going off to fight in the First World War, from which he returned with a wounded leg. He then pursued a career in the offices of the Great Western Railway. Her mother was a teacher of ten-year-olds and eventually became deputy head of a large school. Her younger brother Roderick also grew up to become a writer.[4]

Cooper lived in Buckinghamshire until she was 21, when her parents moved to her grandmother's village of Aberdyfi in Wales. She attended Slough High School and then earned a degree in English at Somerville College at the University of Oxford, where she was the first woman to edit the undergraduate newspaper Cherwell.[5]

After graduating, she worked as a reporter for The Sunday Times (London) under Ian Fleming and wrote in her spare time. During that period she began work on the series The Dark Is Rising and finished her debut novel, the science fiction Mandrake, published by Hodder & Stoughton in 1964.[6]

Cooper emigrated to the United States in 1963 to marry Nicholas J. Grant, a Professor of Metallurgy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a widower with three teenage children.[4] She had two children with him, Jonathan Roderick Howard Grant (b. 1965) and Katharine Mary Grant (b. 1966; later Katharine Glennon). She then became a full-time writer, focusing on The Dark Is Rising and on Dawn of Fear (1970), a novel based on her experiences of the Second World War. Eventually she wrote fiction for both children and adults, a series of picture books, film screenplays, and works for the stage.

Around the time of writing Seaward (1983), both of her parents died, and her marriage to Grant was dissolved.[4]

In July 1996, she married the Canadian-American actor and her sometime co-author Hume Cronyn, the widower of Jessica Tandy. (Cronyn and Tandy had starred in the Broadway production of Foxfire, written by Cooper and Cronyn and staged in 1982.)[7] Cooper and Cronyn remained married until his death in June 2003.

Hollywood adapted The Dark Is Rising (1973) as a film in 2007, The Seeker.[8] It disappointed Cooper, who requested that some changes from her narrative be reverted, to no avail.[9]

Cooper was on the Board of the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance (NCBLA), a US nonprofit organization that advocates for literacy, literature, and libraries (2006[10]–2012[11]).

Her latest work in 2013 was Ghost Hawk, featuring the spirit of a Wampanoag, people decimated by European disease, who witnesses the transformation of Massachusetts by the Plymouth Colony.[12]

In April 2017, Cooper gave the fifth annual Tolkien Lecture at Pembroke College, Oxford, speaking on the role of fantasy literature in contemporary society.[13]

She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as of October 2012.[14]


For her lifetime contribution as a children's writer, Cooper was U.S. nominee in 2002 for the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Award, the highest international recognition available to creators of children's books.[15][16]

The ALA Margaret A. Edwards Award recognises one writer and a particular body of work for "significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature". Cooper won the award in 2012 citing the five Dark Is Rising novels, published 1965 to 1977. The citation observed, "In one of the most influential epic high fantasies in literature, Cooper evokes Celtic and Arthurian mythology and masterly world-building in a high-stakes battle between good and evil, embodied in the coming of age journey of Will Stanton."[2]

She has also been recognised for single books:



Other nonfiction

  • Behind the Golden Curtain: A View of the USA (Hodder & Stoughton and Scribner's, 1965)[18]
  • Dreams and Wishes: Essays on Writing for Children (Simon & Schuster, 1996)[18]


  • Foxfire, Cooper and Hume Cronyn (Samuel French Inc, 1982), stage playbook[18] – produced on Broadway as Foxfire (1982)[7] – based on the Foxfire books

Cooper wrote four screenplays produced for television, one supernatural tale for children and three more adaptations of books about Appalachia (as Foxfire).[18]

  • Dark Encounter (Shadows, Series 2; Thames Television, mid-1970s)
  • The Dollmaker (ABC, 1984)
  • To Dance with the White Dog (Hallmark, 1993)
  • Jewel (CBS, 2001)


The Dark Is Rising
  • The Boggart (1993)
  • The Boggart and the Monster (1997)
  • The Boggart Fights Back (2018)
  • Mandrake (Hodder & Stoughton, 1964), science fiction for adults[18]
  • Dawn of Fear (1970), autobiographical World War II story[18]
  • Seaward (1983)
  • King of Shadows (1999)
  • Green Boy (2002)
  • Victory (June 2006)
  • Ghost Hawk (2013)

Children's picture books

  • Jethro and the Jumbie (1979)
  • The Silver Cow: A Welsh Tale (1983), retold
  • The Selkie Girl (1986), the Selkie legend retold
  • Matthew's Dragon (1991)
  • Tam Lin (1991), retold
  • Danny and the Kings (1993)
  • Frog (2002)
  • The Magician's Boy (2005), adapting her short play for the 1988 Revels[18]

Short fiction

  • "Muffin", Amy Ehrlich, ed., When I Was Your Age: Original Stories about Growing Up (Volume 1) (Candlewick) – story set in World War II England (as Dawn of Fear)
  • "Ghost Story", Don't Read This! (US, Front Street), Fingers on the Back of the Neck (UK, Puffin) – collection supporting IBBY
  • Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out (Candlewick) – Cooper wrote one piece of this mixed-genre NCBLA collaboration
  • The Exquisite Corpse Adventure (Candlewick) – Cooper wrote one episode of this sequential story collaboration of children's authors and illustrators by NCBLA for the LC website
  • "The Caretakers", Haunted (Anderson Press collection, UK only)


  1. ^ Elizabeth Hand. "Susan Cooper". Richard Bleiler, ed. Supernatural Fiction Writers: Contemporary Fantasy and Horror. New York: Thomson/Gale, 2003. Pp. 239–44. ISBN 0-684-31250-6.
  2. ^ a b "Edwards Award 2012". Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). American Library Association (ALA).
      "Edwards Award". YALSA. ALA. Retrieved 2013-10-11.
  3. ^ a b c "Tir na n-Og Awards". Welsh Books Council (WBC).
    "Tir na n-Og awards Past Winners" Archived 10 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine. WBC. Retrieved 2013-03-14.
  4. ^ a b c d Chaston, Joel D. (1996). "Susan (Mary) Cooper". In Caroline C. Hunt (ed.). Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 161: British Children's Writers Since 1960: First Series. Detroit: Gale. Retrieved 5 August 2013. (subscription required)
  5. ^ Charles Butler, Four British Fantasists: Place and Culture in the Children's Fantasies of Penelope Lively, Alan Garner, Diana Wynne Jones, and Susan Cooper (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006), page 14.
  6. ^ Susan Cooper at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database. Retrieved 2012-03-05. Select a title to see its linked publication history and general information. Select a particular edition (title) for more data at that level, such as a front cover image or linked contents.
  7. ^ a b Foxfire at the Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 2012-03-15.
  8. ^ The Seeker on IMDb Retrieved 2012-03-25.
  9. ^ "Author Uncertain About 'Dark' Leap to Big Screen". Margot Adler. National Public Radio. 2007. Retrieved 2012-03-15.
  10. ^ "The NCBLA Board of Directors". NCBLA. Archived from the original on 4 October 2006. Retrieved 4 October 2006.
  11. ^ "The NCBLA Board of Directors". NCBLA. Archived from the original on 22 March 2012. Retrieved 22 March 2012.
  12. ^ Ghost Hawk. LCC record. Retrieved 2013-02-12.
  13. ^ Photographs, podcast, and video for Susan Cooper's Tolkien Lecture, The J.R.R. Tolkien Lecture on Fantasy Literature, 2017-04-30. Retrieved 2017-06-20.
  14. ^ One repeated source of biographical data is Susan Cooper, Dreams and Wishes: Essays on Writing for Children, Margaret K. McElderry (date?). ISBN 0-689-80736-8.
  15. ^ "Hans Christian Andersen Awards". International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). Retrieved 2013-07-22.
  16. ^ "Candidates for the Hans Christian Andersen Awards 1956–2002". The Hans Christian Andersen Awards, 1956–2002. IBBY. Gyldendal. 2002. Pages 110–18. Hosted by Austrian Literature Online ( Retrieved 2013-07-22.
  17. ^ a b "Newbery Medal and Honor Books, 1922 – present". Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC). ALA. Retrieved 2012-03-15.
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h "The Lost Land of Susan Cooper". Susan Cooper. Retrieved 2013-03-14.
  19. ^ "J. B. Priestley: Portrait of an Author". Library of Congress Catalog Record (LCC). Retrieved 2013-02-12.
  20. ^ According to the publisher description, Cooper is "a friend and writer for the Revels".
    "The Magic Maker: a Portrait of John Langstaff, Creator of the Christmas ...". LCC record. Retrieved 2013-02-12.

Further reading

  • Four British Fantasists: Place and Culture in the Children's Fantasies of Penelope Lively, Alan Garner, Diana Wynne Jones, and Susan Cooper, Charles Butler (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006)
  • The Wand in the Word: Conversations with Writers of Fantasy, Leonard Marcus (Candlewick, 2006)

External links

Catherine Butler

Catherine Butler (born 25 January 1963 in Romsey, Hampshire; formerly Charles Cadman Butler) is an English academic and author of children's fiction.Butler's most important academic work, Four British fantasists : place and culture in the children's fantasies of Penelope Lively, Alan Garner, Diana Wynne Jones, and Susan Cooper won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award (2009) in the Mythopoeic Scholarship category and is in 236 libraries according to WorldCat, and has been reviewed in the standard book review sources and academic journals. Another academic work, Teaching Children's Fiction is in 148 libraries. Of Butler's fiction, Timon's Tide is the most widely held and reviewed: over 300 libraries & reviews. Among her other fiction, Death of a Ghost, The Fetch of Mardy Watt, Calypso Dreaming, The Lurkers, are each in about 100 libraries and with journal reviews.

Cooper Field

Cooper Field, formerly known as Harbin Field and Multi-Sport Field, is a 2,500-seat multi-purpose stadium in Washington, D.C. on the campus of Georgetown University. The field was originally used for intramurals and was adopted for soccer in 1994 as Harbin Field. The name was changed to "Multi-Sport Field", a placeholder pending final construction, to reflect the football team's use of the field starting in 2003. In 2015, Georgetown changed the name to Cooper Field in honor of a $50 million gift from Peter and Susan Cooper which funded athletic leadership programs at Georgetown and construction upgrades to the field.

Foxfire (1987 film)

Foxfire is a 1987 Hallmark Hall of Fame made-for-television drama film starring Jessica Tandy, Hume Cronyn and John Denver, based on the play of the same name. The movie aired on CBS on December 13, 1987. Tandy won an Emmy Award for her performance.

Foxfire (play)

Foxfire is a play with songs, book by Susan Cooper, Hume Cronyn, music by Jonathan Brielle (Holtzman) and lyrics by Susan Cooper, Hume Cronyn, and Jonathan Brielle. The show was based on the Foxfire books, about Appalachian culture and traditions in north Georgia and the struggle to keep the traditions alive. The 1982 Broadway production starred Jessica Tandy, who won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play and the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her performance. It costarred Hume Cronyn as well as Keith Carradine who played a country music performer selling out the old traditions to make a buck. Carradine sang most of the songs in the show and most notable were the close of Act 1, "My Feet Took T' Walkin'." It was later adapted as a TV movie, where Tandy played the same role and won an Emmy Award. Carradine was replaced with John Denver for the Hallmark movie. Other songs in the show included: "Sweet Talker," "Dear Lord," "Young Lady Take A Warning," and "Red Ear."

Joe the Barbarian

Joe the Barbarian is an eight-issue comic book limited series written by Grant Morrison and drawn by Sean Murphy. It was published in 2010-2011 by Vertigo Comics, an imprint of American company DC Comics.

Morrison has discussed the inspiration behind the series:

I was obsessed with fantasy books when I was a young teenager – Tolkien, Alan Garner, Susan Cooper, Robert E. Howard, Michael Moorcock, Stephen Donaldson…. anything I could get my hands on. I even wrote two big swords-and-sorcery novels back then, but I'd never done a fantasy comic book before and it seemed like an interesting challenge to do a real proper kind of "Lord of Rings," "Alice in Wonderland" all-ages story for today.

The first issue was released in January 2010 (cover dated March 2010).

King of Shadows

King of Shadows is a children's historical novel by Susan Cooper published in 1999 by Penguin In the United Kingdom, it was a finalist for both the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize.

Love Life (musical)

Love Life is a musical written by Kurt Weill (music) and Alan Jay Lerner (book and lyrics). It opened at the 46th Street Theatre on Broadway (now the Richard Rodgers) on October 7, 1948, and closed on May 14, 1949, after having played 252 performances. The original production starred Ray Middleton and Nanette Fabray, was directed by Elia Kazan, and choreographed by Michael Kidd.The show told the story of a married couple, Sam and Susan Cooper, who never age as they progress from 1791 to 1948, encountering difficulties in their marriage (and thus the very fabric of marriage) as they struggle to cope with changing social mores. One of the earliest examples of the concept musical, the action of Love Life was interspersed with vaudeville-style numbers that commented on the story, in a way very similar to Cabaret (which opened in 1966).

No official cast recording of Love Life has ever been made; a strike at the time of the original production prevented preserving the original cast of this show, as also happened with Where's Charley?, which opened four days later, on Oct. 11, 1948.

The song "I Remember it Well" is the original version of a lyric Lerner revised for use in the 1958 film, Gigi.

Margaret Edwards Award

The Margaret A. Edwards Award is an American Library Association (ALA) literary award that annually recognizes an author and "a specific body of his or her work, for significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature". It is named for Margaret A. Edwards (1902–1988), the pioneer, longtime director of young adult services at Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore.The award was inaugurated in 1988 as the biennial "School Library Journal Young Adult Author Award/Selected and Administered by the American Library Association's Young Adult Services Division". After 1990 it was renamed and made annual. It continues to be sponsored by School Library Journal and administered by the Young Adult Library Services Association, descendant of YASD. The winner is announced during the ALA midwinter meeting and the citation and $2000 cash prize are presented at a luncheon during the ALA annual conference (June 27–July 2 in 2013).Angela Johnson is the 29th Edwards Award winner, announced February 12, 2018.

Over Sea, Under Stone

Over Sea, Under Stone is a contemporary fantasy novel written for children by the English author Susan Cooper, first published in London by Jonathan Cape in 1965. Cooper wrote four sequels about ten years later, making it the first volume in a series usually called The Dark is Rising (1965 to 1977).

In contrast to the rest of the series, it is more a mystery, with traditional fantasy elements mainly the subject of hints later in the narrative. Thus it may ease readers into the fantasy genre.

Spy (2015 film)

Spy is a 2015 American action comedy spy film written and directed by Paul Feig. Starring Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham, Rose Byrne, Miranda Hart, Bobby Cannavale, Allison Janney,

Peter Serafinowicz, Morena Baccarin and Jude Law; the films also marked the Hollywood debut of actress Nargis Fakhri. It follows the life of a secret agent, Susan Cooper (McCarthy), trying to trace a stolen portable nuclear device.

Produced by Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping, Feig and Jessie Henderson, the film was theatrically released on June 5, 2015. It received acclaim from critics and was a box office success. It was nominated for two Golden Globe Awards: Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy for McCarthy.

Susan Cooper (disambiguation)

Susan Cooper (born 1935) is a British author

Susan Cooper is also the name of:

Susan Cooper (swimmer) (born 1963), British Olympic swimmer

Susan Cooper (physics), Professor of Experimental Physics at Oxford University

Susan Fenimore Cooper (1813–1894), writer

Susan Rogers Cooper (born 1947), American mystery novelist

Susan Cooper (physicist)

Professor Susan Cooper was professor of experimental physics at Oxford University from 1995 to 2015, and a professorial fellow of St Catherine's College, Oxford. She was deputy head of particle physics from 2004 to 2015 and associate chairman of physics at Oxford from 2004 to 2014. She served as a member of the university's governing council from 2005 to 2012.

Susan Cooper (swimmer)

Susan Cooper (born 24 June 1963) is a British swimmer. She competed in the women's 100 metre butterfly at the 1980 Summer Olympics.

Susan Rebecca Cooper

Susan Rebecca Cooper is an American producer, director, and longtime Executive Producer and Vice President of Saban Entertainment. She is best known for the romantic drama The Vow and the Emmy Award-winning documentaries "Unchained: The Untold Story of Freestyle MotoCross" and "Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau" (part of ESPN's 30 for 30 series).

The Boggart

The Boggart is a children's novel by Susan Cooper published in 1993 by Macmillan. The book was nominated for a Young Reader's Choice Award (Grade 4–8) in 1996.

It tells the tale of a family from Canada, the Volniks, who inherit a castle in Scotland. They soon discover that, together with the castle, they also seem to have inherited a mischievous spirit: a boggart.

The Dark Is Rising

The Dark is Rising is a 1973 fantasy novel by Susan Cooper. The second in The Dark Is Rising Sequence, the book won a Newbery Honor.

The Dark Is Rising Sequence

The Dark Is Rising is a series of five contemporary fantasy novels for older children and young adults that was written by the British author Susan Cooper and published 1965 to 1977. The Dark Is Rising, the second novel in the series, was published in 1973.

The series is sometimes called The Dark Is Rising Sequence, which is the title of its UK omnibus edition (first 1984) and its US boxed set edition (first 1986). It depicts a struggle between forces of good and evil called the Light and the Dark and is based on Arthurian legends, Celtic mythology, Norse mythology and English Folklore. Both magical and ordinary children are prominent throughout the series.

It was inaugurated in 1965 with the U.K. publication of Over Sea, Under Stone by Jonathan Cape. The sequels were published 1973 to 1977, almost simultaneously in the U.K. and the U.S. Volume four, The Grey King (1975), won both the Newbery Medal, recognizing the year's "most distinguished contribution to American literature for children",

and the inaugural Welsh Tir na n-Og Award for English-language books with Welsh background. The concluding Silver on the Tree (1977) also won the annual Tir na n-Og Award.The novel The Dark Is Rising features Will Stanton, age 11, who learns on that birthday that he is an "Old One" and thus destined to wield the powers of The Light in the ancient struggle with The Dark. In the U.S. it was a Newbery Honor Book (runner up for the medal). Its 2007 film adaptation, titled The Seeker in America and The Dark Is Rising in Britain, made significant plot and character divergences from the book.

The Grey King

The Grey King is a contemporary fantasy novel by Susan Cooper, published almost simultaneously by Chatto & Windus and Atheneum in 1975. It is the fourth of five books in her Arthurian fantasy series The Dark is Rising.The Grey King won the inaugural Tir na n-Og Award from the Welsh Books Council as the year's best English-language children's book with an "authentic Welsh background". It is set in Wales and incorporates Welsh folklore as well as Arthurian material. It also won the annual Newbery Medal recognising the year's "most distinguished contribution to American children's literature".

The Seeker (film)

The Seeker (also known as The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising) is a 2007 American family drama-fantasy film adaptation of the second book in the five-book children's fantasy series The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper. The film is directed by David L. Cunningham and stars Ian McShane, Alexander Ludwig, Frances Conroy, Gregory Smith, and Christopher Eccleston as the Rider. The Seeker is the first film to be produced by 20th Century Fox and Walden Media as part of their Fox-Walden partnership. On his 14th birthday Will Stanton (Ludwig) finds out that he is the last of a group of warriors – The Light – who have spent their lives fighting against evil – The Dark. Will travels through time to track down the signs that will enable him to confront the evil forces. The Dark is personified by The Rider (Eccleston). The film adaptation drew strong negative reaction from fans of the book series for its disregard of the source material.

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