Book of short stories ‘hard to put down’

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A Dewsbury-born author, poet and playwright has released a collection of short stories.

Former journalist John Cooper, who joined the Dewsbury Reporter staff in 1956, published his Tales of the Curiously Unfortunate earlier this summer.

And two weeks ago, 79-year-old Mr Cooper, who attended Wheelwright Grammar School as a youngster, officially launched the book.

He believes his early training as a reporter allowed him to develop his talent.

“The focus was on uncovering hidden news stories and describing matters with total accuracy.

“This meant one developed a strong talent for digging and intense powers of observation – all of these qualities are essential to creative writers.”

During his early years in journalism, Mr Cooper and his colleagues were inspired by topical novels such as Saturday Night and Sunday Morning by Alan Sillitoe.

This led to him to try creative writing, and over the years he has penned poems and plays. His collection of verse, Unreliable Judgements, came out in 2010.

After winning a poetry prize from the BBC years ago Mr Cooper received a card.

“It said ‘Writing is not a job nor a hobby, it’s an addiction without a cure’. And I think that sums it up.”

Tales of the Curiously Unfortunate is a collection of 10 short stories on a variety of sujects – the first section being comic and the second serious.

Mr Cooper, who now lives in Scarborough, gets back to Dewsbury at least once a year for Wheelwright Grammar reunions.

Another old pupil of the school, former Daily Mail executive editor Robin Esser, has praised Mr Cooper’s work. “His observation of the frailties of humanity is acute, revealing and laced with humour – sometimes rather basic – and it makes the book hard to put down.”