Richard Wasey Chopping 1917-2008
Richard �Dicky� Chopping, a distinguished resident of Wivenhoe, died on 17 April, aged 91. He was best known as the illustrator who designed several first edition covers for Ian Fleming�s James Bond novels, but preferred to be remembered as a writer. He also taught for many years, first at Colchester School of Art and later at the Royal College of Art.
Richard was born in Colchester, the scion of a local milling family; his father was Colchester�s mayor 1921-22. He was educated at Gresham�s School, Norfolk where one of his contemporaries was Benjamin Britten, with whom he remained friends. He began his artistic education as head cook and bottle-washer to another great East Anglian artist, Cedric Morris, with whom also Lucien Freud was studying at the time.
Another Freudian connection was Frances Partridge, who, long before anyone had heard of a database, performed the enormous task of indexing the 24-volume complete works of Sigmund Freud. With her, at the end of the second world war, Richard began a monumental multi-volume project for Penguin Books: an encyclopaedia of British wild flowers, she writing the text, he painting the illustrations, but after seven years the project was abandoned as uneconomic.
Richard lived in Wivenhoe for more than sixty years. He bought his house on Wivenhoe Quay in 1944, but because of wartime restrictions (both Wivenhoe�s shipyards were engaged in the war effort) he did not actually move in till 1946. He and his partner of 70 years, Denis Wirth-Miller, became part of the �artists� colony� that led to the formation of the Wivenhoe Arts Club in the 1970s. Many creative people found their way to Wivenhoe at that time, perhaps the best known of whom was Richard�s friend, Francis Bacon.
Richard clearly had a great fondness for Wivenhoe. Right to the last he was ready to do his bit for the town. Just a few years ago he made a very generous donation the Shipyard Project which was trying to save Cook�s from development as housing. More recently, despite being very frail and almost blind, he presented himself at the Town Hall, prepared to speak at the hearing of the Licensing Committee about an application for greatly extended hours at the Rose and Crown. Last autumn, he also spoke most forcefully at an Extraordinary General Meeting of the Wivenhoe Society, where he got a round of applause, I think for his fortitude, as well as for what he had said.