Noel Coward: A Biography

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University of Chicago Press, May 22, 1998 - Biography & Autobiography - 605 pages
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To several generations, Noel Coward was the very personification of wit, glamor, and elegance. There seemed to be nothing he couldn't do, and - as Philip Hoare shows in this definitive biography - he seems to have tried it all. The most remarkable thing, however, was that whatever it was that Coward undertook, it was done with supreme style and class. Coward was a master playwright: consider 'Blithe Spirit', 'Private Lives, and 'Design for Living'; the composer/lyricist of songs such as "Mad Dogs and Englishmen, " "If Love Were All, " and "Mad About the Boy, " from musicals and operettas such as 'Bitter Sweet', 'Conversation Piece', and 'High Spirits'; he was a filmmaker: 'Cavalcade', 'In Which We Serve', and Brief Encounter'; a novelist and diarist: "Pomp and Circumstance," "Present Indicative"; and a talented actor and performer. In researching the book, Philip Hoare traveled far and wide, and interviewed dozens of Coward's surviving contemporaries - friends, as well as enemies. Most significant, however, was the cooperation he received from the Coward Estate. Given unprecedented access to the private papers and correspondence of Coward and of members of his family, as well as his many compatriots and numerous lovers, Hoare has produced what has been hailed widely as "the definitive book" about Noel Coward. One especially noteworthy aspect to Hoare's treatment of Coward's life is the fact that this book is the first to deal openly with Coward's homosexuality. It was, of course, a reality in his life, but despite the fact that it imbued his work, it was a subject Coward remained, to his death, wary of discussing publicly. But while Hoare deals frankly with the subject, he neveroversteps the bounds of discretion and good taste. The result of all Philip Hoare's meticulous research and careful assessment is a biography that is both wideranging and intimate, a record of the public profile and private life of one of the 20th century's most celebrated - and still controversial - figures.
 

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Noël Coward: a biography

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Hoare (Serious Pleasure: The Life of Stephen Tennant, LJ 12/90) has written a fascinating, in-depth biography of the great American playwright and songwriter. While earlier biographies (and Coward's ... Read full review

Review: Noel Coward: A Biography

User Review  - Tosh - Goodreads

Hoare wrote a wonderful biogpraphy on one of the most underrated talents of the 20th Century. I don't always see eye-to-eye with Coward, but I find him fascinating. I am a fan of his plays and songs ... Read full review

Contents

Family Album
1
A Talented Boy
21
Podge and Stodge
38
Rising Star
57
The Young Idea
80
Lord of a Day
102
Bright Young Thing
114
The Vortex
128
Could You Please Oblige Us with a Bren Gun?
306
Play Parade
319
Dont Lets Be Beastly
338
Peace in Our Time
356
Island Fling
376
A Bouquet of Violets
392
Live in Las Vegas
408
Pomp and Circumstance
429

Societys Hero
142
On with the Dance
159
Home Chat
171
Bitter Sweet
190
Private Lives
213
Cavalcade
231
Design for Living
243
Tonight at 83 o
257
To Step Aside
279
Present Laughter
292
Prisoner of a Legend
446
Sail Away
464
Dads Renaissance
479
A Song at Twilight
499
The Partys Over Now
514
Acknowledgements
525
Source Notes
528
Index
571
Copyright

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References to this book

Coward, the Playwright
John Lahr
Limited preview - 1982
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About the author (1998)

Philip Hoare is the author of biographies of Stephen Tennant and Noel Coward and the historical studies Wilde's Last Stand, Spike Island and England's Lost Eden. He is also the writer and presenter of the BBC Arena film, The Hunt for Moby-Dick. He lives in Southampton, England.

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