Cope, (Robert Knox) Jack (1913–1991) By Hall, Molly
‘Jack’ Cope was a South African novelist, poet, editor, and short story writer. Born June 3, 1913 in Mooi River, Natal, South Africa, he spent his early career as a local journalist in Durban before moving to London, England as a foreign political correspondent. As a pacifist, he met with hostility there during the years of World War II and returned demoralized to South Africa to work as a cultural critic and editor for an anti-apartheid newspaper, The Guardian, in Cape Town until 1955. After leaving the newspaper, he separated from his wife of sixteen years and began his infamous affair with South African poet Ingrid Jonker in the early 1960s. During this time he also became the editor of Contrast, a bilingual literary magazine in English and Afrikaans, continuing as editor there for twenty years until 1980.
During that time, he was also the editor of several volumes of South African poetry, and his book The Dawn Comes Twice (1969) was banned by the government. Best known for his novels and short stories, he wrote about the racial history of South Africa, focusing on events such as the Bambata Rebellion in 1906 in The Fair House (1955).