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Arthur Melbourne Cooper

Arthur Melbourne Cooper was a British photographer and early filmmaker best known for his pioneering work in stop-motion animation who spent some of his life in Little Shelford.

He was living at 72 Newton Road in the 1939 census.


Cooper produced over three hundred films between 1896 and 1915. These include Dreams of Toyland (1908) and according to some sources Dolly’s Toys (1901), as well as Matches: An Appeal, which Dutch researcher Tjitte de Vries claimed may have been the first animated film to be shown in public.

In 1955, Audrey Wadowska, the daughter of Cooper, attended a film history exhibition in London, where she saw stills from a series of films credited to Brighton-based film pioneer George Smith, which she claimed contained members of her family and must therefore have been filmed by her father.


The series is known as the GRG-Series, after Grandma's Reading Glass (1900). The significance of this film is its pioneering use of interpolated close-up. Wadowska's campaigning, championed by Dutch researcher Tjitte de Vries, has resulted in the films being re-attributed to Cooper by New York's Museum of Modern Art Film Archive


Dutch researcher Tjitte de Vries has also championed the claim by Cooper and his daughter that the series of three stop-motion animation films that includes Matches: An Appeal, was not produced in 1914 as previously suggested and instead dates production to 1899; the significance of this is that it would predate any other known use of stop-motion animation techniques.

Melbourne-Cooper retired in 1940 and moved to Coton, Cambridgeshire, where he died in 1961. he is buried in the cemetery of St Peter's Church, Coton alongside his wife.

Posted July 18 2022

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