Manuscripts, Letters, Books & Magazines
The sites, library and collections listed here provide a further port of call for Coward sources.
The books shown were written by or about Coward's contemporaries. They contain useful information about Coward and his work and his relationships with others.

NEW on this page:
'The Mist Procession' and 'A Man Called Intrepid'

References to public collections of papers associated with Noel Coward with links where known:
The Historical Manuscripts Commission
This commision has been established by the Government to rationalise and protect manuscript resources across the UK. The site will be of increasing importance in establishing where collections of manuscripts relating to individuals are kept. In the case of Noel Coward the following references were found using the Lycos search engine. When we tried to repeat the search using the engine of the HMC site we did not get the responses shown below. This perhaps indicates that the site is still being developed and that the search engine is not working correctly - or that we are not using the correct approch to searching! It will be worth watching though and should provide some further sources for those Coward papers not under the care of the Coward Estate.

Sir Noel Coward - (1899-1973) Knight Playwright and Composer
Correspondence and literary papers for the location of these papers see:

Reference : Location register of 20th century English literary MSS 1988
1924-66: corresp with Basil Dean
Manchester University: John Rylands Library
Reference : Location register of 20th century English literary MSS 1988
1931-52: corresp with League of Dramatists
British Library, Manuscript Collections
Reference : Add MSS 63370
1967-72: corresp with Joseph Losey
British Film Institute
Reference : Losey 341
NRA 34678 BFI
Letters to Esme Wynne (Noël Coward: letters to his childhood friend Esme Wynne ('Stodge'), incl details of his work.)
Theatre Museum
Reference : Annual Return 1995 RP 95/1489
Biographies and Publications
Ego - Volumes 1 to 9 1945 James Agate These volumes make up the diaries of James Agate, the drama critic of The Times. They are very hard to find nowadays, especially the earlier volumes. There are also three volumes of 'A Shorter Ego' edited by Agate himself that contain edited versions of the 9 volumes - these are also hard to find. Lastly there is 'The Selective Ego' edited by Tim Beaumont that contains selections from the 9 volumes. This was published in 1976 and is easier to find. The books contain criticisms of plays from June 1932 to June 1947 and other diary information. There is information here of Coward during this critical period of his life.
Showman Looks On 1945. Charles B. Cochran. Limited references to Coward with no inside information on how they worked together.
A Star Danced  1945.  Gertrude Lawrence. This somewhat shaky autobiography does provide other views of Coward but there is not a lot that is not included elsewhere.
The Contemporary Theatre  1946. James Agate. Two interesting references to Coward in this book on 'Private Lives' and 'Sigh No More'
Ivor Novello - Man of the Theatre  1951. Peter Noble. The Foreword by Coward is only present in the first edition as by the time of the second edition Novello had tragically died. There are many references to Coward.
Ivor - the Story of Achievement  1951. W. Macqueen-Pope. Another Novello biography written after his death. Many Coward references.
Ivor Novello 1987. James Harding. Probably the best biography of Ivor Novello with numerous refernces to Coward and his works.
Gertrude Lawrence as 'Mrs. A'  1954. Richard Stoddard Aldrich. A tender and moving book by her husband, who, given the time of his writing, spares little in describing their lives. Good background reading with some Coward references
Theatrical Companion to Coward (A revised version due out 1999/2000) 1957 Raymond Mander & Joe Mitchenson The result of a theatrical archive and placed here as it brings together commentaries of the plays "The Rat Trap" through to "Nude With Violin" with an 'Appreciation' by Terence Rattigan plus Radio & TV scripts, songs & sketches, unproduced & unpublished plays and unproduced sketches & lyrics. A new edition is due out soon.
The Mist Procession - The Autobiography of Lord Vansittart - 1958. Pb. Hutchinson. The autobiography has three references to Noel Coward.
It Isn't All Mink  1959. Ginette Spanier. The Directrice of the House of Balmain whose Paris home was Coward's first port of call in Paris. He wrote the introduction to this book, about her fraught passage through the war years and her post-war role with Pierre Balmain.The book links with entries in 'The Noel Coward Diaries'.
The Last Bassoon  1960. Fred Bason. Edited by Noel Coward This fourth diary by Fred Bason has many entries concerning Coward who edited and introduces the book.
Curtains A Critic's view of plays, players and theatrical events 1950 - 1960 1961.  Kenneth Tynan Born too late to be a critic of Coward at his peak as a playwright, this book has some references to Coward in the 50's but its main value is in providing background information of the theatre at this time and the changes that so upset Coward.
A Man Called Intrepid - The Secret War 1939-1945 - 1976 A book about the British Security Coordination which made a major contribution to Allied victory in WWII. Includes information on Noel Coward's wartime activity.
Gladys Cooper - 1979. A Biography by Sheridan Morley. Sheridan Morley's grandmother and a close friend of Coward - this book has lots of Coward references.
Somerset Maugham  1980. Ted Morgan. Biography of this playwright and novelist. Sheridan Morley says that he was the only playwright apart from Noel to have had four plays running simultaneously during the first half of the century. It has lots of Coward references.
Gertrude Lawrence  1981. Sheridan Morley. A book about Gertie with masses on their professional and private relationship. Re-issued in 1999 paired with 'Talent To Amuse'
Astaire - The Biography  1987. Tim Satchell. Lots of references to how Fred and Adele Astaire met Coward and their friendship.
Spread a Little Happiness  1987. The First Hundred Years of the British Musical. Sheridan Morley. Great book with lots of Coward references, plus pictures, posters etc. Includes a 'set-up' picture of Noel Coward and Gladys Calthrop watching Mary Martin modelling one of her gowns for Pacific 1980.
Myrna Loy : Being And Becoming 1987 By James Kotsilibas-Davis and Myrna LoyAlfred published by A. Knopf, Inc. Some Coward references.
Beverley Nichols a Life 1991 Written by Bryan Connon. A very readable and well constructed biography that provides a reasoned alternative to Nichol's autobiographies which are full of inconsistences, bitter attacks (especially on his father John Nichols) and invented episodes. Connon examines all of the evidence and provides reasons for Nichol's aberrant writing and actions. The book contain numerous references to his friends Noel Coward, Ivor Novello and Ned Lathom. He struggled all his life to be taken seriously and was a prolific writer on a wide variety of issues and topics but is best remembered for his books on gardening and cats.
John Gielgud's Notes from the Gods - 1994. Playgoing in the Twenties.  John Gielgud edited by Richard Mangan An item from the Mander and Mitchenson archive of John Gielgud's notes on his playgoing in the 20s.
Michael Redgrave, My Father  1995.  Corin Redgrave. A book about Michael Redgrave by his son Corin. It mentions Coward only twice including an extract from Corin's mother, Rachel Kempson's autobiography ('A Family and Its Fortunes') where she recounts talking to Coward about the evening before Redgrave was going to 'join up' at Plymouth at the beginning of the war. He had spent that evening with Noel Coward rather than with her. Coward said that he hadn't wished to hurt her but he had found Michael so irresistibly charming.
New Dictionary of National Biography 2002 with a new, 5000 word entry on Coward by Philip Hoare.
Magazines and Newspapers 
Magazines and newspapers etc. that contain articles about Coward and his work.
I've been to a Marvellous Party ... (WIT Magazine)  Summer 1998  Kenneth Tynan A reprint of an article by Kenneth Tynan in the US magazine "Wit" written some years ago and largely a review of Cole Lesley's biography "Remembered Laughter".

  Copyright - The Noel Coward Society - May 2001