Born at Pilsley, Derbyshire in 1938. Died in London 2012.
Cooper originally trained as a teacher at Dudley College before studying art at Bournemouth School of Art. He taught for a time in London and also worked as a studio assistant to two leading potters of the day, Gwynn Hansen Pigott and Bryan Newman.
He set up his first studio pottery at Westbourne Grove in London in 1965 before establishing the Fonthill Pottery in Primrose Hill, London in 1973. Though most of his work consisted of tableware he became increasingly interested in more abstract forms and the use of brightly coloured glazes. He also began writing about ceramics, his first book being ‘A Handbook of Pottery’ in 1970. He went on to write over twenty books, including major biographies of two of the most eminent potters ‘Bernard Leach: Life and Work’ (2003) and ‘Lucie Rie: Modernist Potter’ (2012).
Cooper was active in the Craft Potters Association, serving for many years as council member, chair and fellow. In 1970 he co-founded The Ceramic Review and was its editor until 2010; this has become a highly influential and internationally recognised publication.
In the late 1980s he began historical research into working class art; this was published in 1991 as ‘Peoples Art: Working Class Art from 1760 to the Present Day’ and was the basis for a PhD awarded by Middlesex University. Cooper was Visiting Professor of Ceramics and Glass at the Royal College of Art from 2000 to 2012. He was also a Board member of the Arts Council. He was awarded the OBE in 2002 for services to art.