Jack Cope Centenary

The farmhouse at Rudolf's Hoek, Mooi River, where Jack was born.

The farmhouse at Rudolf’s Hoek, Mooi River, where Jack was born.

My father Jack Cope and his twin brother Tom were born in this house on the 3rd of June 1913.

A journalist and writer, he started as a reporter, worked in Fleet St during the 1930s, and joined the staff of The Guardian, South Africa’s communist paper, where he remained until 1955. Leaving jouralism for a literary career, he published eight novels, 3 books of poems and over fifty short stories. A leading figure in South African literature in the 1960s and 1970s, he edited Contrast, the SA literary journal for many of those years. He nurtured many writers, including the likes of Ingrid Jonker, (his lover in the early 1960s) Richard Rive and Mark Swift. He was a part of South Africa’s Sestiger literary movement, and  friends with most of the South African writers of that time.

He lived in Clifton, Cape Town from 1953 to 1971, when he moved to Onrust, then a small village in the Southern Cape. In 1981 he moved to Hitchin in the UK, where he lived until his death in 1991.

132 jack & tomJack (with dog) and his twin brother Tom, who died by lightning in 1933.

000 Jack young man

Jack as a young man. Mid-1930s.

Jack Cope by Lesley

A portrait of Jack by Lesley, his wife from 1942 – 1960.


Jack in the late ’80s

Some books by Jack Cope:

  • Marie: A South African Satire (1948)
  • The Fair House (1955)
  • The Golden Oriole (1958)
  • The Road To Ysterberg: A Novel (1959)
  • The Penguin Book Of South African Verse (Co- editor) (1968)
  • The Dawn Comes Twice (1969)
  • The Rain-Maker (1971)
  • My Son Max (1977)
  • The Adversary Within: Dissident Writers In Afrikaans (1982)
1 comment
  1. Wendy Wilks said:

    Mike. I am Wendy Wilks a long time friend of your father. I have several signed first editions he gave me. Would you like them? I am now 76 and living in New Zealand. Are you still making jewellry and how is Raymond?

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