Jilly Cooper recounts ‘terrifying’ attempted rape by a fellow author

Veteran romance novelist did not name the man in question

Nicole Vassell
Saturday 27 April 2024 11:01 BST
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Jilly Cooper has shared a memory of nearly being raped by a fellow author in her early career.

The British writer, known for her romance novels such as Riders, Rivals and Mount!, expressed her feelings towards movements such as MeToo in a new interview with The Telegraph.

Speaking to interviewer Celia Walden, Cooper, 87, noted that “it is seriously awful for women – terrifying – to be jumped on by a man”.

She then recounted an experience from her time working for a book publisher in her twenties.

“I was taken out to lunch by a man and on the way back in a cab he jumped on me and pulled my clothes apart. It was awful. I was terrified,” Cooper explained.

After taking a breath, she continued: “When I got back to the office I was in floods of tears and told my manager that someone had just tried to rape me.”

Cooper then noted that her manager tried to soothe her with a cup of tea while insisting that she reveal the offender’s identity so that they could report it to authorities.

However, the concern seemingly ended when she named her assaulter. “But then, when I told him the man’s name and he realised it was one of our authors… I was ushered out of that office in two seconds. So yes… I think [MeToo] has been good in many respects.”

Jilly Cooper in 2019
Jilly Cooper in 2019 (PA)

Over the years, Cooper has expressed a range of opinions towards the MeToo movement, which campaigns against sexual abuse and rape culture. Though it was established by activist Tarana Burke in 2006, the movement went viral in 2017 after several women accused disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment and rape.

Previously, Cooper has claimed that MeToo “diminished” men, and in the Telegraph interview, published on Saturday (27 April), spoke of her fear “that these days, if you put a hand on a woman’s shoulder, you’re about to rape her.”

She continued: “But what I find the saddest thing of all, is that now some gentle pass you made 30 years ago could come back at you, and then your career will go, your marriage will go: everything will go.”

Rape Crisis offers support for those affected by rape and sexual abuse. You can call them on 0808 802 9999 in England and Wales, 0808 801 0302 in Scotland, and 0800 0246 991 in Northern Ireland, or visit their website at www.rapecrisis.org.uk. If you are in the US, you can call Rainn on 800-656-HOPE (4673)

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