Hoff, Harry Summerfield 1910-2002 (William Cooper)
HOFF, Harry Summerfield 1910-2002 (William Cooper)
OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born August 4, 1910, in Crewe, Cheshire, England; died September 5, 2002, in London, England. Civil servant, educator, and author. Hoff will be most remembered as the author of the novel Scenes from Provincial Life (1950), the first of his novels written under the William Cooper pseudonym. Educated at Christ's College, Cambridge, where he earned a master's degree in 1933, he was a school master in Leicester before World War II. During the war he served in the Royal Air Force and was promoted to squadron leader. He then embarked on a long career in the civil service, where he remained even after becoming a successful novelist. Hoff held various jobs as a civil servant, including as an assistant commissioner in the 1940s and 1950s, personnel consultant to the Atomic Energy Authority from 1958 to 1971 as well as to the Central Electricity Generating Board, and as an assistant director to Civil Service Technical Services in the early 1970s. From 1975 to 1977 he was a member of the board of Crown agents and personnel consultant to Millbank Technical Services. The last years of his career, from 1977 to 1990, were spent as a lecturer in English literature at Syracuse University. Hoff's writing career began with several undistinguished novels written under his own name. When he published Scenes from Provincial Life, however, he felt that its sometimes frank sexual content should not be attributed to the pen of a civil servant, so he had the book published pseudonymously. This novel, in which he tried to realistically portray working-class people in England, was widely praised by critics and author colleagues alike. Hoff followed this accomplishment with several more books that followed the main character in Scenes,, Joe Lunn, whose experiences are loosely based on the author's own; unfortunately, none of these sequels were as successful as his most admired novel. Though his later novels never won substantial acclaim, several gained critical praise, among them The Struggles of Albert Woods (1952), Disquiet and Peace (1956), and Memoirs of a New Man (1966). Hoff's last book to be published was the eighth in the "Scenes from Life" series featuring Lunn, Scenes from Death and Life (1999).
OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:
Independent (London, England), September 6, 2002, p. 20.
Times (London, England), September 9, 2002, p. 7.