Goodbye, World, produced, 1959.
The Hamlet of Stepney Green: A (Sad) Comedy in Three Acts, M. Evans (London, England), 1959.
Change for the Angel, produced in London, England 1960.
The Dream of Peter Mann (produced in Edinburgh, Scotland, at Edinburgh Festival, 1960), Penguin (Harmondsworth, England), 1960.
Four Plays (contains “The Hamlet of Stepney Green,” “Enter Solly Gold,” and the radio plays Home Sweet Honeycomb” and “The Lemmings”), MacGibbon & Kee (London, England), 1964.
David, It Is Getting Dark, produced 1966.
Stray Cats and Empty Bottles produced in Cambridge, England, 1961; produced in Cononbury, England, at Tower Theatre, 1967.
(With John Goldschmidt) It’s a Lovely Day Tomorrow, televised, 1975, produced in London, England, 1976.
More Out than In, produced on tour and in London, England, 1980
Ezra, produced in London, England, 1981.
Simon at Midnight, broadcast, 1982, produced in London, England, 1985.
Some of These Days, produced in London, England, 1990, produced as Sophie! Last of the Red Hot Mamas, London, England, 1990.
Moss, televised, 1975, produced in London, England, 1991.
Androcles and the Lion (adaptation for children), produced in London, England, 1992.
Playing Sinatra: A Play, Samuel French (London, England), 1992.
Who Shall I Be Tomorrow?, produced in London, England 1992.
Dreams of Anne Frank: A Play for Young People, Samuel French (London, England), 1993.
Call in the Night, produced in West Yorkshire, England, at West Yorkshire Playhouse, 1995.
Jacob and the Green Rabbi, produced in London, England, at Young Vic Theatre, 1997.
Cafe Zeitgeist, produced in Wayne, NE, at Wayne State College, 2001.
I Am Isaac Babel, 2002.
Plays One, Oberon (London, England), 2002.
Plays Two, Oberon (London, England), 2003.
Returning We Hear the Larks, 2003.
The Opening, 2003.
Plays Three, Oberon (London, England), 2004.
Knocking on Heaven’s Door, 2004.
Rogues and Vagabonds, 2005.
Also author of the radio plays The Dark Ages and The Lost Love of Phoebe Meyers, and the television plays I Want to Go Home and The Lost Years of Brian Hooper. Contributor to anthologies, including New English Dramatists: Three Plays by Doris Lessing, Bernard Kops, Arnold Wesker, edited by E. Martin Browne, Penguin (Harmondsworth, England), 1959; Satan, Socialites, and Solly Gold: Three New Plays from England, Coward (New York, NY), 1961; and Eight Plays: Book 1, Cassell (London, England), 1965.
Awake for Mourning, MacGibbon & Kee (London, England), 1958.
Motorbike, New English Library (London, England), 1962.
Yes from No-Man’s Land, Coward (New York, NY), 1965.
The Dissent of Dominick Shapiro, Coward (New York, NY), 1967.
By the Waters of Whitechapel, Bodley Head (London, England), 1969.
The Passionate Past of Gloria Gaye, Secker & Warburg (London, England), 1971.
Settle Down Simon Katz, Secker & Warburg (London, England), 1973.
Partners, Secker & Warburg (London, England), 1975.
On Margate Sands, Secker & Warburg (London, England), 1978.
Poems. London: Bell and Baker Press, 1955.
Poems and Songs. Northwood, Middlesex: Scorpion Press, 1958.
An Anemone for Antigone. Lowestoft, Suffolk: Scorpion Press, 1959.
Erica, I Want to Read You Something. Lowestoft, Suffolk: Scorpion Press, and New York, Walker, 1967.
For the Record. London: Secker and Warburg, 1971.
Barricades in West Hampstead. London: Hearing Eye, 1988.
Grandchildren and Other Poems. London: Hearing Eye, 2000.
Where Do People Go?, 2005.
This Room in the Sunlight:A Collection of Poems. London: David Paul Books, 2009.
The World Is a Wedding (autobiography), Coward (New York, NY), 1963.
Poetry Hounslow, Hounslow Civic Centre (London, England), 1981.
Neither Your Honey nor Your Sting: An Offbeat History of the Jews, Robson Books (London, England), 1985.
Shalom Bomb: Scenes from My Life, Oberon (London, England), 2000.
Bernard Kops East End, Five Leaves Press (Nottingham, England), 2006. (Editor)
The Hamlet of Stepney Green, 1958
Goodbye World, 1959
Change for the Angel, 1960
The Dream of Peter Mann, 1960
Stray Cats and Empty Bottles, 1961
Enter Solly Gold, 1962
Home Sweet Honeycomb, 1962
The Lemmings, 1963
Four Plays, 1964
The Boy Who Wouldn’t Play Jesus, 1965
David, It is Getting Dark, 1970
Just One Kid, 1974
It’s a Lovely Day Tomorrow, with John Goldschmidt, 1975
Rocky Marciano is Dead, 1976
More Out than In, 1980
Simon at Midnight, 1982
Night Kids, 1983
Some of These Days, 1990; as Sophie! Last of the Red Hot Mamas, 1990
Playing Sinatra, 1991
Androcles and the Lion, 1992,
Dreams of Anne Frank, 1992
Who Shall I Be Tomorrow?, 1992
Call in the Night, 1995
Jacob and the Green Rabbi, 1998
Café Zeitgeist, 1999
Plays, 2 vols, 1999–2000
Awake for Mourning, 1958
Yes from No-Man’s Land, 1965
The Dissent of Dominick Shapiro, 1966
By the Waters of Whitechapel, 1969
The Passionate Past of Gloria Gaye, 1971
Settle Down Simon Katz, 1973
On Margate Sands, 1978
Poems and Songs, 1958
An Anemone for Antigone, 1959
Erica, I Want to Read You Something, 1967
For the Record, 1971
Barricades in West Hampstead, 1988
Grandchildren and Other Poems, 2000
The World is a Wedding, 1963
Editor, Poetry Hounslow, 1981
Neither Your Honey nor Your Sting: An Offbeat History of the Jews, 1985
Shalom Bomb, 2000
Because Bernard Kops regards the family as so important, he typically selects domestic settings for his fiction, poetry, and plays, and he usually evokes realistic details of real Jewish lives that make us laugh or cry—or both. Yet he often incorporates presentational elements. Thus he puts Sam Levy’s ghost into The Hamlet of Stepney Green, he has the house in Dreams of Anne Frank talk to the family, and Hugo in Call in the Nightinteracts at once with his past and his present. Regardless of the style he employs, Kops’s humanism embraces humanity, even those he indicts, such as anti-Semite Ezra Pound.Surreal yet playful, Ezra creates the poet’s mad mind jumping around in a demented vaudeville encompassing Mussolini, Vivaldi, and Pound’s anti-Semitic tirades. Pound is physically imprisoned as a traitor by the Allies for his broadcasts on behalf of fascism, and his mind also appears fettered by prejudice and a naivety which cannot comprehend that he has helped kill individuals he liked and admired. In a feat that demonstrates the size of his own soul, Kops asks us to condemn but also pity Pound, and writer Kops balks at approving censorship of another author. The play leaves us with the image of the poet summoning the Jews in Venice’s ghetto. He calls, but, since they died in the gas chambers, no one remains to respond; only the wind replies to his entreaties. This provides a chilling conclusion to a deeply disturbing play that struggles to comprehend how such a poetic genius could have espoused such dangerous bigotry.
Although Ezra’s genocide represents Kops’s largest-scale evocation of death, repeatedly this writer considers our mortality. Yes from No-Man’s Land depicts an elderly Jew who lies dying in a Catholic hospital. Just One Kid dramatizes the illness of a boy whose father and sister die, while another teleplay, Moss, portrays an East-End Jew who hoards his money until he loses his beloved grandson; when the boy perishes at a playground, the old man appreciates life is more precious than wealth. In Home Sweet Honeycomb, death, in the form of a firing squad, comes for those who won’t relinquish their individuality. Change for the Angel dramatizes a boy who prays for his hateful father’s death but who instead loses his mother, whereas its predecessor, Goodbye World, concerns a would-be suicide. In The Lemmings Kops satirizes such a death wish. The playwright locates the source of the dysfunction of the protagonist in Call in the Night in the Holocaust deaths of his parents and sister and his own survivor guilt. It’s a Lovely Day Tomorrow reprises the Bethnal Green tube disaster, when several hundred people were crushed to death while entering a shelter; Kops’s parents survived this tragedy.
Despite his obsession with death, Kops conveys a clear imperative to live. He creates such survivors as the former boxer-manager, Harry Marcus, in Rocky Marciano is Dead, or the idealistic title character of Simon at Midnight. The Dream of Peter Mann rejects materialism and embraces life, and the con man in the black-comic satire Enter Solly Gold spreads joy among the victims he fleeces and helps them to reject stultifying convention and lifesapping greed. Although death’s threnody sings through poem after poem, he urges us to dance. Even in “First Poem”, his life force helped him harness life and death’s inherent contradictions; he adjures us “let’s dance upon the desolation”. “Shalom Bomb”, the poem that supplied the title for Kops’s second autobiography, describes his search for the paradoxical “live long and die happy bomb”. Although Kops’s grandfather and cousins in Amsterdam died, the victims of genocide, Kops insists, in “Neither Your Honey nor Your Sting”, “I really must continue to resist/the temptation of ceasing to exist”.
As he castigates materialism, Kops counsels compassion. David, It is Getting Dark depicts a successful right-wing writer who plagiarizes the work of an impoverished Jewish author. The Boy Who Wouldn’t Play Jesus complains that Christians don’t live by Christian values. Who Shall I Be Tomorrow? dramatizes the travails of a middle-aged actress, once successful, who has fallen on hard times, and Night Kids touches us with its treatment of teenage runaways who prostitute themselves and try to shelter from the cold in discarded boxes.
One of many works by Kops that explore the psyche’s fragility, By the Waters of Whitechapel inspires compassion for an unhinged Jew who has failed to escape the Whitechapel area of Stepney Green for the more affluent districts of northwest London. Partners traces successful businessman Daniel Klayman’s descent into madness. A third novel, On Margate Sands, and its stage version, More Out than In, depict the consequences of de-institutionalizing the mentally ill. Call in the Night concerns a man teetering on the edge of cracking up. Some Kops poems likewise reflect a tenuous hold on sanity; the persona in “Breakdown” says he rushes out “through the wallpaper” and pleads with his mother to see “how ill I am”.
Kops indicts conformity in, for example, his study of an elderly Jewish con man, Settle Down Simon Katz. Yet he also mocks his own early bohemianism with his 1960s antihero, the young title character in The Dissent of Dominick Shapiro, Kops’s answer to Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. Kops contrasts rebellion and conformity here, finding a certain absurdity in each.
Often Kops selects 20th-century icons as his subjects—Sophie Tucker in Sophie! Last of the Red Hot Mamas, Anne in Dreams of Anne Frank, Ezra Pound in Ezra. While rooting for survival, he deplores characters’ destructive or self-destructive obsessions—for example, their fixations on Ol‘Blue Eyes in Playing Sinatra; here he permits Sandra to escape the trap of the stifling Streatham house. Much as Kops admires Anne’s diary, he focuses on making us experience anew the anguish of her death; he would prefer for us to have lost the book but for Anne to have survived. Here, as always, Kops chooses life.