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THOMAS COOPER (1805–1892)

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Originally appearing in Volume V07, Page 81 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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THOMAS COOPER (1805–1892), English Chartist and writer, the son of a working dyer, was born at Leicester on the loth of March 1805. After his father's death his mother began business as a dyer and fancy box-maker at Gainsborough. Young Cooper was apprenticed to a shoemaker. He had a passion for knowledge; studied Greek, Latin and Hebrew in his spare time; and in 1827 gave up cobbling to become a schoolmaster, and, later, a Methodist preacher. His affairs did not prosper, and after going to Lincoln, where he obtained work on a local news-paper, he came to London in 1839. Here he became assistant to a second-hand bookseller, but in 1849 he joined the staff of the Leicestershire Mercury. His support of the Chartist movement obliged him to resign his position, but he undertook to edit The Midland Counties Illuminator, a Chartist journal, in 1841. He became a leader of the extreme Chartist party, and for his action in urging on the strike of 1842 he was imprisoned in Stafford gaol for two years. Here he produced The Purgatory of Suicides, a political epic in ten books, embodying the radical ideas of the time. In his efforts to publish this work after his liberation he came under the notice of Benjamin Disraeli and Douglas Jerrold. Through Jerrold's help it appeared in 1845, and Cooper then turned his attention to lecturing upon historical and educational subjects. In 1856 he suddenly renounced the free-thinking doctrines which he had held for many years, and became a lecturer on Christian evidences. He died at Lincoln on the 15th of July 1892. Among his other works may be mentioned the Bridge of History over the Gulf of Time (1871) and the Life of Thomas Cooper, written by Himself (1872).
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