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Ethel Cooper

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Name  Ethel Cooper

Ethel Cooper Lily Allen out with daughter Ethel Cooper Growing Your Baby
Died  May 25, 1961, Malvern, Adelaide, Australia

Ethel Cooper Tribute

Caroline Ethel Cooper (25 December 1871 – 25 May 1961) was an Australian musician best known for the letters she wrote to her sister Emmie in Australia while she was trapped behind enemy lines in Leipzig during World War I.


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Early life

Cooper was born in Adelaide in 1871, the daughter of Arthur Cooper the deputy surveyor general and Harriette Cooper (née Woodcock) a music teacher. Cooper attended Miss Annie Montgomerie Martin's progressive school and studied music under I. G. Reimann.

Musical career

Ethel Cooper played the trombone and piano. She travelled to Leipzig to continue her music studies from 1897-1906. She returned to Adelaide and played trombone in visiting orchestras at the Theatre Royal and formed a Women's Orchestra.

Letter writing

Cooper returned to Leipzig and documented her experiences living in wartime Germany from 31 July 1914 and 1 December 1918 in 227 weekly letters to her sister. It was not possible to post the letters back to Australia, so the first 52 were smuggled to Switzerland. The rest of the letters were hidden in music scores and furniture until she could send them from England in 1918.

Cooper's sister, Emmie, later deposited the letters in the State Library of South Australia's collection.

Cooper returned to Adelaide following the war before returning to Europe to help with relief work in Poland and Greece.

Media Portrayal

Ethel Cooper is one of the 14 main characters of the series 14 - Diaries of the Great War. She is played by actress Megan Gay.


  • The Ethel Cooper Scholarship for Pianoforte at University of Adelaide. was established by her biographer Decie Denholm in 1982 for a student studying the piano.
  • Personal life

    Cooper never married. Caroline Ethel Cooper died on 25 May 1961 in Malvern, Australia at the age of 90.


    Ethel Cooper Wikipedia

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