Concept

A. E. Coppard

Summary
Alfred Edgar Coppard (4 January 1878 13 January 1957) was an English author, noted for his poetry and short stories. Coppard was born the son of a tailor and a housemaid in Folkestone, and had little formal education. Coppard grew up in difficult, poverty-stricken circumstances; he later described his childhood as "shockingly poor" and Frank O'Connor described Coppard's early life as "cruel". He quit school at the age of nine to work as an errand boy for a Jewish trouser maker in Whitechapel during the period of the Jack the Ripper murders. During the early 1920s, still unpublished, he was in Oxford and was part of a literary group, the New Elizabethans, who met in a pub to read Elizabethan drama. W. B. Yeats sometimes attended the meetings. During this period he met Richard Hughes and Edgell Rickword, amongst others. Coppard was a member of the Independent Labour Party for a period. Coppard's fiction was influenced by Thomas Hardy and was compared favourably to that of H. E. Bates. Coppard's work enjoyed some popularity in the United States after his Collected Tales was chosen as a selection by the Book of the Month Club. In his mini-biography in Twentieth Century Authors, Coppard lists Abraham Lincoln as the politician he admired most. Coppard also listed Sterne, Dickens, James, Hardy, Shaw, Chekhov and Joyce as authors he valued; conversely, he expressed a dislike for the works of D. H. Lawrence, T. E. Lawrence, and Rudyard Kipling. Some of Coppard's collections, such as Adam and Eve and Pinch Me and Fearful Pleasures, contain stories with fantastic elements, either of supernatural horror or allegorical fantasy. In Nancy Cunard's 1937 book Authors take Sides on the Spanish War, Coppard endorsed the Republicans. A. E. Coppard was the uncle of George Coppard, a British soldier who served with the UK Machine Gun Corps during World War I, known for his memoirs With A Machine Gun to Cambrai. Coppard's short stories were praised by Ford Madox Ford and Frank O'Connor.
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