Obituary: Lettice Cooper

MAY I add to Francis King's obituary of Lettice Cooper (27 July)? writes Jean MacVean.

I first met Lettice in Yorkshire before the war. I remember her coming up our garden path to meet my mother, the writer Phyllis Hambledon. When I went to London in 1941 I stayed in the small private hotel where Lettice and her sister Barbara were living. Lettice's patriotism led her to give up her writing for the duration, though she had had a considerable success with National Provincial (1938). She joined the Ministry of Food as a voice for Lord Woolton, whom she much admired. She was also an air raid warden. Barbara Cooper, who had published a novel of her own, assisted John Lehmann on Penguin New Writing.

When the war was over, the Coopers moved to a flat in Swiss Cottage and I moved to a flat of my own. After I married, Lettice became the godmother for my daughter and Barbara for my son. They were always extraordinarily kind both to them and to me. I used to see them as a sort of Sisters Cheeryble not only to me, but to many of their friends.

In this hospitable flat with its huge Victorian screen covered with vivid scraps of the same period, they threw their wonderful parties. These were always lively. I remember Elizabeth Jennings having an argument with Martin

Seymour-Smith, a Turkish poet who sent me some real Turkish delight, the Israeli poet Pinhas Sadeh, John Lehmann, Charles Osborne, Pamela Frankau and many others. Barbara brought her collection of young writers and poets from the London Magazine who recited the wilder poems the magazine received. I remember one to Edith Sitwell which began 'Edith, Edith, poetry's monolith'.

Francis King mentions Lettice's interest in psychoanalysis. She was a fervent Freudian. I think it helped her: a great deal of her understanding and compassion originated in this discipline.

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