Alfred Heaton Cooper was born in Manchester and brought up in Bolton. He was one of six children born to millworker parents. After leaving school, he worked as a clerk but moved to London in 1884 to study art under George Clausen at the Westminster School of Art. He was much influenced by the paintings of Constable and Turner as well as other contemporary artists.He finished his studies prematurely to embark on a period of travelling, first north to Yorkshire, then abroad to Morocco and finally settling in Norway. Whilst in Norway, he became fascinated by the rural lifestyle of the Sogne region, where he eventually set up a studio beside the fjord at Balestrand. While there, he married Mathilde.After realising that he could not make a living in the area, he returned in 1894 to Bolton, moving eventually to the Lake District where he believed there was a market for his work amongst visiting tourists. He shipped his log cabin studio from Norway to Coniston and later to Ambleside. In 1903, Mathilde gave birth to William Heaton Cooper, who would also go on to become a landscape artist.Apart from his watercolours of the Lake District, and scenes of Norwegian fjords (especially Balestrand), he also provided illustrations for many travel guidebooks published by A & C Black.He died in the Lake District in 1929 and is buried at St Mary's Church, Ambleside. The family business he founded still exists today as an art gallery and shop in Grasmere, Cumbria.