- 1930 - 1960 (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
2 boxes, 12cm
Name of creator
Roland Edgar Cooper was born in 1890 in Kingston-Upon-Thames, but lost both his parents by the age of four. He came to be cared for by his aunt Emma Wiedhofft who was married to William Wright Smith, eventual Regius Keeper of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. It was this association that was to shape Cooper's career - he travelled to Calcutta with Smith in 1907 when he became in charge of the Herbarium there, travelling and collecting botanical specimens in Sikkim, Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan. In 1910, Cooper and Smith returned, and Cooper took the Horticultural course at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.
In 1913, Cooper returned to the Himalayas to collect plants for A.K. Bulley of Ness, near Liverpool. He travelled through Sikkim in 1913, Bhutan in 1914-15, and the Punjab in 1916.
In 1921, after the First World War, during which Cooper served in the Indian Army, he was appointed Superintendent of the Botanic Garden at Maymo in the Shan Hills of Burma, eventually returning to Scotland in the late 1920's for the education of his son. From 1930-1934 Cooper worked at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh as the Garden Curator's assistant, taking the role of Curator (Head Gardener) himself in 1934, a post he held until his retirement in 1950. Post retirement, he and his wife Emily Bartusek moved to Westcliff-on-Sea in Essex.
During his career, Cooper became a Fellow of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, the Royal Anthropological Institute, the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society, the Botanical Society of Edinburgh (now Scotland), the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Scottish Anthropological Society. He was also the vice-president of the Scottish Rock Garden Club, of which he was a founder member.
Immediate source of acquisition or transfer
Content and structure area
Scope and content
REC/3: Roland Edgar Cooper – Cooper’s Writing, c.1930-c.1960
REC/3/1: "Abnormal Cyclamen Growths" [Cyprus] by R.E. Cooper with two accompanying photographs by Robert Moyes Adam. Written 1933? [Intended for Notes of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh but never published?]
REC/3/2: "A Scented Hybrid of Lilium Bulbiferum Croceum (Aurantiacum)" by R.E. Cooper, reprinted from the Lily Year Book 1948.
REC/3/3: Unpublished paper on Seed Morphology in the Genus Primula - text and 14 plates of photographs and illustrations. [Written in the 1930s?]
REC/3/4: Unpublished 10 page typescript entitled “The work of William McNab, landscape gardener, 1780-1848, The Royal Botanic Garden at Inverleith”; covers a history of the Inverleith site, Cooper’s opinion of McNab’s skill in laying out the Garden, a diagram of sightlines in the south west corner, and 9 of Cooper’s photographs taken in the Garden.
REC/3/5: “Received with Thanks” the unpublished autobiography of R.E. Cooper. Added to the collection in August 2020 after being donated to RBGE.
Cooper wrote extensively - the archive collection only includes a small sample of what were presumably the author's own copies. See Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh Library catalogue for the rest of his output.