Obituary

Alice Cook obituary

My friend Alice Cook, who has died aged 70, was a psychotherapist, writer, feminist and political activist.

Her life’s work concerned health and wellness, especially for women. She was a nurse, a health visitor and managed various mental health projects in London for many years. She also worked with mentally ill patients and community health aides in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka, in 2010 and 2011, though she became sceptical of this type of volunteer work and questioned whether her skills and experience could really help in such a different context. She moved to Stroud, Gloucestershire, in 2016 and developed a psychotherapy practice, drawing on her deep knowledge and empathy.

In the early 1980s, Alice was involved in the Greenham Common women’s peace movement. She and I wrote Greenham Women Everywhere (1983), highlighting the fear and anger that led women to act against the nuclear arms race. Earlier she had started a project about nuclear nightmares, prompted by her own dreams. Through magazines such as Sanity and Spare Rib, she invited others to send her their own dreams – and included some of them in the book.

Alice Cook, right, at Greenham Common peace camp.
Alice Cook, right, at Greenham Common peace camp. Photograph: Leslie McIntyre

Years later, a French translation of the book, Des Femmes Contre des Missiles (2016), brought the Greenham movement to a younger generation, including the film-maker Sonia Gonzalez, whose English-language documentary for Arte TV, Women Against the Bomb (2021), features Alice, me, Clare Hudson, Rebecca Johnson, Ann Pettit, and others.

Alice saw close parallels between current fears of ecological disaster and nightmares of nuclear catastrophe. As with Greenham, personal terror was a spur to public action for Extinction Rebellion, which she was involved with for a time. She felt strongly that the Greenham movement is still a powerful source of ideas and beliefs, not just history or nostalgia.

She was fiercely independent, a passionate feminist and an avid reader. In recent years she loved tending her garden, which grew wilder the higher it climbed the steep hill behind her house. Sadly, her curiosity about life, her commitment to women’s wellbeing, her creativity and writings-in-progress were all cut short by breast cancer.

Born in Oxford, to Iris (nee Golding), a music teacher, and Morris Cook, a history professor, after leaving school Alice studied for a BA in English at Sussex University, graduating in 1973. In 2002 she was awarded a master’s in psychotherapy from the Minster Centre in London.

She is survived by Jacob Cook, her son from a relationship with Mick Duffield.

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