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David Edgar: Noël Coward’s Return, 9 December 1999

1956 and All That 
by Dan Reballato.
Routledge, 265 pp., £40, February 1999, 0 415 18938 1
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Collected Plays: Six 
by Noël Coward.
Methuen, 415 pp., £9.99, April 1999, 0 413 73410 2
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Collected Plays: Seven 
by Noël Coward.
Methuen, 381 pp., £9.99, April 1999, 0 413 73410 2
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Collected Revue Sketches and Parodies 
by Noël Coward.
Methuen, 282 pp., £9.99, April 1999, 0 413 73390 4
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Noël Coward: A Life in Quotes 
edited by Barry Day.
Metro, 116 pp., £9.99, November 1999, 9781900512848
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Noël Coward: The Complete Lyrics 
Methuen, 352 pp., £30, December 1998, 0 413 73230 4Show More
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... of admission’ was pretty much Coward’s verdict on the playwrights who emerged in the wake of John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger (Wesker included), and largely their verdict on him. And despite a revival of interest in his early work during the Sixties (‘Dad’s renaissance’, he called it), Coward has been regarded since 1956 as being on the losing ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2009, 7 January 2010

... wearing an old pair of green corduroy trousers so it looks like a suit. It makes me remember how Gielgud used to be excited – or pretended to be – by corduroy. ‘Corduroy! My dear!’ And his eyebrows would go up as if it were some kind of statement. Which it may well once have been, but was hardly the case in 1968. 4 April. News that this year’s ...

Memoirs of a Pet Lamb

David Sylvester, 5 July 2001

... country house in which he is seated on the lawn as one of an assorted company, including John Strachey, Harold Nicolson, Peter Howard and Professor Joad, of prospective Parliamentary candidates. Three years later, when Mosley was starting to move towards Fascism, there were some letters, which are extant, in which my father sought reassurance from ...


Alan Bennett: What I Didn’t Do in 2007, 3 January 2008

... House (where I do not pee). It’s the home of the Lascelles family, an ancestor of which, John Lascelles, blew the gaffe on Catherine Howard, the king’s fifth wife, but was later culled himself in the purge of evangelicals during that dreadful monarch’s last years. I watch two of the now well-established red kites tumbling about the sky above the ...

Memories of Lindsay Anderson

Alan Bennett, 20 July 2000

... and he did that superbly. Home is so nebulous on the page that at the time I couldn’t see how Gielgud in particular would ever manage to learn the lines (or the half lines). But it was a wonderful production, as were all Lindsay’s collaborations with Storey, Home, The Contractor, The Changing Room and Life Class still not accorded their due; though the ...

Emily of Fire & Violence

Paul Keegan: Eliot’s Letters, 22 October 2020

... When​ T.S. Eliot asked John Hayward in February 1938 to act as his literary executor (‘in case some unexpected calamity cuts me down like a flower’), he told him to prevent publication of his literary remains – including ‘any letters at all of any intimacy to anybody’. ‘In fact,’ he added, ‘I have a mania for posthumous privacy ...

It was satire

Mary Beard: Caligula, 26 April 2012

Caligula: A Biography 
by Aloys Winterling, translated by Deborah Lucas Scheider, Glenn Most and Paul Psoinos.
California, 229 pp., £24.95, October 2011, 978 0 520 24895 3
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... McDowell as a convincingly bonkers young emperor, backed up by a group of A-list actors, including Gielgud and Helen Mirren, who were said to have been unaware of the soft porn enterprise in which they were involved. (Did they think that Guccione was bankrolling serious historical drama?) Much more shocking was the portrayal of Caligula in BBC Television’s ...

Damsons and Custard

Paul Laity: Documentary cinema’s unsung poet, 3 March 2005

Humphrey Jennings 
by Kevin Jackson.
Picador, 448 pp., £30, October 2004, 0 330 35438 8
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... exactly the same thing.’ In 1934, Jennings, a young artist and intellectual about town, joined John Grierson’s GPO Film Unit on a freelance basis, mainly, it seems, because he was hard up. He went on to become Britain’s most admired wartime documentary film-maker, and although his is far from a household name, his critical reputation has for decades ...

Skating Charm

James Wolcott: Kenneth Tynan, 13 December 2001

The Diaries of Kenneth Tynan 
edited by John Lahr.
Bloomsbury, 439 pp., £25, October 2001, 0 7475 5418 8
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... sting-like-a-bee style has lost none of its panache, his witty concision is still quotable (on Gielgud in modern dress: ‘The general aspect of a tight, smart, walking umbrella’), much of his excitement outliving the occasions that produce it. But there have been other theatre critics with dapper styles and deep commitments whose names faded once their ...

Lost Jokes

Alan Bennett, 2 August 1984

... other consists (or did in 1971) of playgoers for whom the theatre has never been the same since John Osborne, and if they don’t like a play they leave it in droves. Indeed, it sometimes seems that their chief pleasure in going to the theatre in Brighton is in leaving it, and leaving it as noisily as possible. In Beyond the Fringe the seats were going up ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 1995, 4 January 1996

... on chairs) to catch a glimpse of the speakers. The most notable is of course the 90-year-old Gielgud, black overcoat, velvet collar, a half-smile always on his lips as of someone prepared to indulge the world in its fondnesses but with his thoughts already elsewhere. Michael Denison and Judi Dench do the handbag scene from The Importance, J.G. reads from ...

In the Workshop

Tom Paulin: Shakespeare’s Sonnets, 22 January 1998

The Art of Shakespeare's Sonnets 
by Helen Vendler.
Harvard, 672 pp., £23.50, December 1997, 0 674 63712 7
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Shakespeare's Sonnets 
edited by Katherine Duncan-Jones.
Arden, 503 pp., £7.99, September 1997, 1 903436 57 5
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... be equally true of its paraphrasable content.’ Taking issue with a recent editor of the Sonnets, John Kerrigan, she points to his lack of interest in the linguistic variation in sonnet 129, and says he takes ‘a single-minded expository view of the poem, as though it were a self-consistent sermon’. For Vendler, the verbal imagination’s true intent is ...

My Darlings

Colm Tóibín: Drinking with Samuel Beckett, 5 April 2007

... studied theatre in Paris for a short time, and then returned to Ireland, playing a small part in John Ford’s film The Quiet Man and working for a time at the Gate Theatre with Hilton Edwards and Micheál MacLiammóir. In the summer of 1953 he directed Siobhán McKenna and Cyril Cusack in The Playboy of the Western World, playing the part of Shawn Keogh ...

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