Bernard Kops 1926-2024 — Jewish Renaissance

In 1957 his first play, The Hamlet of Stepney Green, was produced at the Oxford Playhouse, one of the key works of the ‘New Wave’ in British drama along with Look Back in Anger, The Wesker Trilogy and Pinter’s early plays. He once said in an interview, “We brought our backgrounds, our experiences and our traditions… An authenticity came and wiped away the middle-class, like [Terence] Rattigan – a marvellous writer, but the audiences didn’t want that any more.”

The 1960s and 70s were a productive time for Kops, from his memoir The World is a Wedding (1963) to his novel On Margate Sands (1978). But this was also a dark period in his life. He suffered from drug addiction and in 1975 attempted suicide. He wrote about this time and his rehabilitation in one of his best works, Shalom Bomb: Scenes from My Life (2000).

“Family,” he once said, “is the sustaining force. My life is dissected into all the concerns and joys of the family.” He was married to his wife Erica for almost 70 years. Without her, he told the Jewish Chronicle, “I could not have survived”. He is survived by Erica and their four children, Adam, Hannah, Rebekah and Abigail.

By David Herman

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