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Noël CowardA Biography 
by Philip Hoare.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 605 pp., £25, November 1995, 1 85619 265 2
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... Cathay. It makes an undistinguished stopover, but has one claim to notice: it is where, in 1930, Noël Coward holed up, suffering from flu and, with only a pad of paper and an Eversharp pencil, wrote Private Lives in four days (having earlier conceived the plot during a restless night in Tokyo, when he was visited by a shimmering vision of Gertrude ...

Be flippant

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 CowardA Life in Quotes 
edited by Barry Day.
Metro, 116 pp., £9.99, November 1999, 9781900512848
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Noël CowardThe Complete Lyrics 
Methuen, 352 pp., £30, December 1998, 0 413 73230 4Show More
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... In the film about Noël Coward that Adam Low made for Arena in 1998, there is a shot of Arnold Wesker watching a recording of a Royal Court fundraising gala in which Coward is marvellous but clearly miserable as the restaurant owner in an extract from Wesker’s The Kitchen ...

Letter to an Editor

W.H. Auden, 22 December 1983

... Is Robert Lowell Better than Noel Coward, Howard? W.H. Auden’s little poem has passed into the folk memory without, so far as we know, ever having seen print. The editor in question is Howard Moss, who runs the poetry in the New Yorker ...

Watching himself go by

John Lahr, 4 December 1980

Plays 
by Noël Coward.
Eyre Methuen, 358 pp., £5.95, September 1980, 0 413 46050 9
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... Noël Coward never believed he had just a talent to amuse. A man who spent a lifetime merchandising his de-luxe persona, Coward liked to make a distinction between accomplishment and vanity: ‘I’m bursting with pride, which is why I have no vanity.’ A performer’s job is to be sensational; and in his songs, plays and public performances, Coward lived up to the responsibility of making a proper spectacle of himself ...

Likeable People

John Sutherland, 15 May 1980

Book Society 
by Graham Watson.
Deutsch, 164 pp., £6.50, April 1980, 0 233 97160 2
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The Publishers Association Annual Report 1979-80 
73 pp.Show More
Private Presses and Publishing in England since 1945 
by H.E. Bellamy.
Clive Bingley, 168 pp., £15, March 1980, 0 85157 297 9
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... startling good looks with his massive creative intelligence and devastating wit, and that was Noel Coward. In the presence of both I suffer, or suffered, from a raging feeling of inadequacy. My inferiority was not helped in the case of my first meeting with Noel Coward by being invited by him in his suite in the Savoy Hotel ...

Maughamisms

Elizabeth Mavor, 18 July 1985

A Traveller in Romance 
by W. Somerset Maugham, edited by John Whitehead.
Muller, Blond and White, 275 pp., £12.95, November 1984, 0 85634 184 3
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... Parker is discussed, the letters of Madame de Sévigné, the personalities of Marie Tempest, Noel Coward, Eddie Marsh, the Aga Khan; there are pensées on playing bridge, the reasons why the American dislike the English, an account of what it’s like to have one’s portrait painted; there are some unexceptionable short stories and a playlet. There are ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: Voices from Beyond the Grave, 20 November 2008

... of their characters. Among the British contingent, none is more satisfying in this way than Noel Coward, who was caught at Heathrow in transit from his home in Jamaica to his home in Switzerland. It is 6 a.m. and you can hear in the background what a British transport arena used to sound like before the days of interminable announcements. It is not too early ...

Rising above it

Russell Davies, 2 December 1982

The Noel Coward Diaries 
edited by Graham Payn and Sheridan Morley.
Weidenfeld, 698 pp., £15, September 1982, 0 297 78142 1
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... temperament, it is the treat of the year. It was the treat of a lifetime for Noel Coward. His diaries open in 1941, when he was already enjoying a warm bath of celebrity. ‘Lunched Dorchester with Bob Menzies,’ he begins. ‘He was absolutely charming. Came away comfortably reassured that I had done a really good job there.’ Meetings for ...

Rainy Nights

Sylvia Clayton, 1 March 1984

Sidney Bernstein 
by Caroline Moorehead.
Cape, 329 pp., £12.95, January 1984, 0 224 01934 1
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... this century. He has never, however, been an innovator, like his friends Alfred Hitchcock and Noel Coward; he has helped-creative talent to flourish, but always as a promoter, a showman. It was his idea to hang a picture of P. T. Barnum in every office in Granada Television. He is arguably the most successful of the television barons. Lord Bernstein himself ...

House of Frazer

J.W. Burrow, 31 March 1988

J.G. Frazer: His Life and Work 
by Robert Ackerman.
Cambridge, 348 pp., £35, December 1987, 0 521 34093 4
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... And in Bangkok at 12 o’clock? It needs an effort of imagination to think of Noel Coward reading The Golden Bough (popular abridged edition, 1922), but he catches perfectly the scatter-effect of Late Victorian and Edwardian anthopology practised according to the comparative method, above all by Frazer, from whose legendary notebooks the ...

Sisterly

A.N. Wilson, 21 October 1993

Love from Nancy: The Letters of Nancy Mitford 
edited by Charlotte Mosley.
Hodder, 538 pp., £20, September 1993, 0 340 53784 1
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... My great new friend is Noël Coward’, Nancy Mitford confided to a correspondent in 1949. ‘Bliss. He shakes like a jelly at one’s jokes, I adore that.’ It was laughs Nancy Mitford wanted, much more than grandeur. She longs to make people laugh, and sometimes, almost in the manner of a nervous stand-up comedienne, interrupts her letters to make sure that the audience is suitably convulsed ...

On David King

Susannah Clapp, 21 June 2018

... I am dead.’ ‘You can’t be dead – you’re the greatest living writer.’ ‘No, no, Noël Coward is the greatest living writer.’ ‘But Noël Coward is dead.’ ‘Oh,’ said Genet, ‘that’s good.’ There was our caption. No editing needed. David had the ear of a natural writer – there ...

Hoydens

Susannah Clapp, 18 February 1988

A Woman of Passion: The Life of E. Nesbit, 1858-1924 
by Julia Briggs.
Hutchinson, 473 pp., £16.95, November 1987, 9780091682101
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Narratives of Love and Loss: Studies in Modern Children’s Fiction 
by Margaret Rustin and Michael Rustin.
Verso, 268 pp., £22.95, November 1987, 9780860911876
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... The young Noel Coward thought E. Nesbit was ‘the most genuine Bohemian I had ever seen’. Berta Ruck called her ‘the Duchess’. Nesbit set herself up as the complete Edwardian: a free-thinker, a matriarch and a madcap. She bobbed her hair, carried her tobacco in a corset box, and acquiesced in her Fabian husband’s disdain for the suffragettes: ‘Votes for women ...

One Night in Maidenhead

Jean McNicol, 30 October 1997

Noel Coward and Radclyffe Hall: Kindred Spirits 
by Terry Castle.
Columbia, 150 pp., £15.95, November 1996, 0 231 10596 7
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Your John: The Love Letters of Radclyffe Hall 
edited by Joanne Glasgow.
New York, 273 pp., £20, March 1997, 0 8147 3092 2
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Radclyffe Hall: A Woman Called John 
by Sally Cline.
Murray, 434 pp., £25, June 1997, 9780719554087
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... to her own not terribly tragic life. Early in her suggestive and elegantly written study of Noël Coward and Radclyffe Hall, Terry Castle admits that Hall’s ‘style is for the most part the antithesis of Coward’s – painfully discursive, polemical, almost entirely devoid of gaiety, archness or ...

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