||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (March 2008)|
Cooper in 1974
(by Allan Warren)
February 21, 1937
|Notable work(s)||Rutshire Chronicles|
|Spouse(s)||Leo Cooper (1961-present)|
Jilly Cooper OBE (born 21 February 1937) is an English author. She started her career as a journalist and wrote numerous works of non-fiction before writing several romance novels, the first of which appeared in 1975. She is most famous for writing the Rutshire Chronicles.
Early life 
Jilly Sallitt was born in Hornchurch, Essex, England, to Mary Elaine (née Whincup) and Brigadier W. B. Sallitt, OBE. She grew up in Ilkley and Surrey, and was educated at the Moorfield School in Ilkley and the Godolphin School in Salisbury.
Journalism and non-fiction 
After unsuccessfully trying to start a career in the British national press, Cooper became a junior reporter for The Middlesex Independent, based in Brentford. She worked for the paper from 1957 to 1959. Subsequently, she worked as an account executive, copywriter, publisher's reader and even a receptionist.
Her break came with a chance meeting at a dinner party. The editor of The Sunday Times Magazine asked her to write a feature about her experiences. This led to a column in which Cooper wrote about marriage, sex and housework. That column ran from 1969 to 1982, when she moved to The Mail on Sunday, where she worked for another five years.
Cooper’s first column led to the publication of her first book, How to Stay Married in 1969, and which was quickly followed by a guide to working life, How to Survive from Nine to Five in 1970. Some of her journalism was collected into a single volume, Jolly Super, in 1971. Several similar volumes were issued.
The theme of class dominates much of her writing and her non-fiction is written from a distinct upper middle-class British perspective, focusing on the relationships between men and women, and matters of social class in contemporary Britain.
As with her non-fiction works, Cooper draws heavily on her own point of view and experiences. For example, her own house is the model for Rupert Campbell-Black's: both are very old (although his is larger); her house overlooks a valley called the Toadsmore, and his overlooks a valley called the Frogsmore. She also draws on her love of animals – dogs and horses feature heavily in her books – and the British countryside.
In 1975, Cooper published her first work of romantic fiction, Emily. It was based on a short story she wrote for a teenage magazine, as were the subsequent romances, all titled with female names: Bella, Imogen, Prudence, Harriet and Octavia.
Octavia is one of Jilly Cooper's so-called "name" books, called that because each has a girl's name for a title. It is set in Britain during the 1970s. There was a never-broadcast ITV adaptation of the novel, with a screenplay was written by Jonathan Harvey.
One character was modeled on George Humphreys, a welshman with whom Cooper had an affair in the late 1950s.
The Times noted that Cooper avoids the traditional romantic convention in which the heroine remains a virgin until the last page. Elizabeth Grey found the jokes annoying but still funny, and confessed to falling in love with the character of Octavia.
Plot summary 
Octavia Brennan is a beautiful yet flawed young woman, living the high life in 1970s London. Though she is deeply flirtatious and has, by her own admission, slept with many men, she has never found happiness with any of them.
After bumping into an old school friend, Gussie, and falling for her fiancé, Jeremy, Octavia is invited to spend the weekend with them on their canal boat. Characteristically, she convinces herself that Jeremy cannot possibly have real affection for the overweight and clumsy Gussie, and she is determined to win Jeremy by the end of the weekend. But when Jeremy invites Welsh firebrand Gareth Llewllyn along for the ride, Octavia finds her plans disrupted in more ways than one.
TV production 
Production began on 17 September 2007, in London. Despite this, it was never shown on ITV. According to a Broadcast Now article in 2009, this was because, as a consequence of the recession, ITV put many of their dramas 'on ice'; however, they promised to air all delayed shows except Octavia soon after; Octavia alone remained on the shelf. The Guardian reported that Octavia does not have a transmission slot for 2009, and noted that for accountancy purposes, the cost of a show was not counted until the show was broadcast. Jilly Cooper is due to make a cameo appearance as a guest at a party.
The cast was:
- Tamsin Egerton as Octavia Brennan
- Patrick Baladi as Jeremy West
- Richard Coyle as Gareth Llewellyn
- Tom McKay as Xander Brennan
- Alice Glover as Lorna Hamilton
- Joel Fry as Charlie Mancini
Riders and the Rutshire Chronicles 
However, Cooper's best-known works are her extremely long novels. The first of these was Riders (1985), an international bestseller, and the first volume of Rutshire Chronicles. The first version of Riders was written by 1970, but shortly after Cooper had finished it, she took it with her into the West End of London and left the manuscript on a bus. The London Evening Standard put out an appeal, but it was never found. She was, she says, "devastated", and it took her more than a decade to start it again.
Riders and the following books are characterised by intricate plots, featuring multiple story lines and a large number of characters. (To help the reader keep track, each book begins with a list and brief description of the characters) Although the books do not always follow each other sequentially - Rivals and Polo chronologically overlap, for example - they are linked by recurring characters (chiefly Rupert Campbell-Black, Roberto Rannaldini, and their families) and later books make reference to events of previous books.
Each book of the Rutshire Chronicles is set in a milieu that can be considered glamorous and wealthy, such as show jumping or classical music. These aspects are contrasted with details of the characters' domestic lives, which are often far from glamorous.
Her novel Pandora is not one of the Rutshire Chronicles, but does feature a few characters from the series, and is very similar in style and content. Wicked! follows the same approach, including characters from previous novels and introducing new characters who are relatives, friends or rivals of existing characters. It is set in the fictional county of Larkshire, which borders her other fictional county, Rutshire.
Her most recent[when?] novel is Jump! which features characters from Rutshire Chronicles in the world of jump racing.
Children's books 
She also wrote a series of children’s books featuring the heroine Little Mabel.
Private life 
In 1961, Jilly married Leo Cooper, a publisher of military history books. The couple have known each other since 1945 (when Jilly was about eight), although they did not marry until she was 24 and he was 27. Leo Cooper was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in 2002. In October 2010 Jilly suffered a minor stroke. The couple were unable to have children naturally. They adopted two children, Emily and Felix, now adults. They also have four grandchildren, Jago, Lysander, Acer and Scarlett, as well as a rescued cat, Feral, and a rescued greyhound, Feather. They live in an old house in the Cotswolds which they moved to in 1982.
Cooper was involved in the Ladbroke Grove rail crash. She was a passenger in one of the derailed carriages and had to crawl through a window to escape. She later spoke of feeling that her "number was up" and of being absurdly concerned, due to shock, about a manuscript she had been carrying.
Awards and honours 
List of works 
- How to Stay Married (1969)
- How to Survive from Nine to Five (1970)
- Jolly Super (1971)
- Men and Super Men (1972)
- Jolly Super Too (1973)
- Women and Super Women (1974)
- Jolly Superlative (1975)
- Supermen and Superwomen (1976)
- Work and Wedlock (1977)
- Superjilly (1977)
- The British in Love (1979)
- Class: A View from Middle England (1979)
- Supercooper (1980)
- Violets and Vinegar: An Anthology of Women's Wrirings and Sayings (1980)
- Intelligent and Loyal (1981)
- Jolly Marsupial (1982)
- Animals in War (1983)
- The Common Years (1984)
- On Rugby (1984; with Leo Cooper)
- On Cricket (1985; with Leo Cooper)
- Hotfoot to Zabriskie Point (1985)
- Horse Mania! (1986)
- How to Survive Christmas (1986)
- Turn Right at the Spotted Dog (1987)
- Angels Rush In (1990)
- Emily (1975)
- Bella (1976)
- Harriet (1976)
- Octavia (1977)
- Imogen (1978)
- Prudence (1978)
- Lisa and Co. (1981; also known as Love and Other Heartaches)
'Little Mabel' series:
- Little Mabel (1980)
- Little Mabel's Great Escape (1981)
- Little Mabel Wins (1982)
- Little Mabel Saves the Day (1985)
The Rutshire Chronicles:
- Riders (1985)
- Rivals (1988; also known as Players)
- Polo (1991)
- The Man Who Made Husbands Jealous (1993)
- Appassionata (1996)
- Score! (1999)
- Pandora (2002)
- Wicked! (2006)
- Jump! (2010)
Film, TV, or theatrical adaptations 
Television adaptations of Cooper's romance novels are currently[when?] in development with ITV. Octavia, had its first UK screening in 2009, with actress Tamsin Egerton, taking the title role.
In popular culture 
- Conlan, Tara ITV rides high with Cooper, The Guardian (19 July 2007)
- Coming Up thecustard.tv
- Hanks, Robert, "First Lady of Rutshire", The Guardian (1959-2003); Mar 18, 1996; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Guardian (1821-2003) and The Observer (1791-2003) pg. A4
- "Not a simper in sight". Elizabeth Grey. The Times (london, England), Saturday, Jun 03, 1978; pg. 9; Issue 60318.
- Shoard, Catherine, "Paperbacks", The Evening Standard (London), February 4, 2008, pg 41
- TV PRODUCTION EVENTS - NEW LISTING, myentertainmentworld.com
- Broadcast Now article (February 2009)
- Dowell, Ben (12 February 2009). "ITV delays single dramas in downturn". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 January 2013.
- Jilly Cooper official webpage (December 2007)
- University Announces Honorary Awards University of Gloucestershire
- Little Britain - Bubbles Devere -11- Klosters YouTube
- Jilly Cooper The official books website
- Jilly Cooper's Video Newsletter for May 2008 BizView.tv
- Jilly Cooper's Video Newsletter for December 2007 BizView.tv
- Biography[dead link] with some interesting quotations from interviews with Jilly Cooper
- The queen of chick lit The Guardian, 15 June 2004 - Article about Cooper's writing
- Jilly Cooper An interview with Jilly recorded in 2000 by meettheauthor.co.uk