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This article is part of the Celebration of Bishopsteignton Women poster series in honour of International Women’s Day 2022! To find out more about this project, visit the project homepage.

Rosaleen Graves was born in Wimbledon on 7 March 1894, the sister of the poet and writer Robert Graves. When she was young Rosaleen wanted to be a concert pianist and was awarded a Diploma from the Royal College of Music. However, when the First World War broke out she joined the Volunteer Aid Detachment (VAD) in 1915, aged 22. She served as a nurse in Wimereux, France, from 1917 to 1919. Rosaleen later attended Merton College, Oxford, to study medicine and trained as a doctor, getting a job in Charing Cross Hospital in 1926. She later became one of the first female G.P.s in the country. She married James Cooper in 1932, but their marriage was dissolved in 1943. The couple had three children: Daniel, Roger and Paul. Like her brother Robert, Rosaleen also wrote poems and many of them were published. Among her published works are “Night Sounds and other poems”, and “Snapdragons Poems”.[1]
In 1939 Rosaleen and her family moved from the South East to Bishopsteignton. She worked as the G.P. from 1939 until 1964. She took care of troops returning from Dunkirk atthe end of WWII while they were billeted at Cockhaven Manor. Rosaleen remained in the village after she finished with her GP practice. She also continued to write, and in 1982 she published “From an Edwardian Childhood”, a collection of songs and games, which was illustrated by her then neighbour Brenda Gilpin.[2] Many people in Bishopsteignton remember Rosaleen as a remarkable and eccentric woman, whose driving was renowned in the village. Her nephew recalls that “locals knew to be careful with Dr Cooper’s car!” At some point in the 1980s, Rosaleen Cooper moved back to Wimbledon and died there in a nursing home in August 1989.[3]
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1 Yvonne Hellin-Hobbs, ‘Dr. Rosaleen Cooper nee Graves’, Bishopsteignton Heritage, (July 2020),

2 Ibid

3 Ibid