Diaries and Biographies
Coward wrote a diary in the latter part of his life. Two completed autobiographies were published in his lifetime and an unfinished third volume, posthumously. Many biographies have been written about Coward, the earliest by Patrick Braybrook, the rather inaccurate book, 'The Amazing Mr. Noël Coward', the first authorised biography 'A Talent To Amuse' by Sheridan Morley and latterly Philip Hoare's detailed account of Noël's life. There are in addition biographies of contemporaries that contain Coward references, incidents and anecdotes. The introductions written by Coward in his own and others' works are another source of information, e.g. the introductions to the six volumes of Play Parade.
Diaries and Autobiographies
Present Indicative (Heinemann, London) 1937. Coward's life up to 1931. Written largely from memory.
Australia Visited (Heinemann, London) 1940. Broadcasts made in and for the people of Australia and New Zealand and published by Heinemann in England in 1940.
Middle East Diary (Heinemann, London) 1944. Diary of Coward's overseas tour to entertain the troops "from Gib to Baghdad", wry humour and personal impressions of places and people.
Future Indefinite (Heinemann, London) 1954. The WW2 years. Not a sequel to 'Present Indicative' but a look at another period in Coward's life
The Noël Coward Diaries (Weidenfield and Nicolson, London) 1982. Edited by Graham Payn & Sheridan Morley. Diary kept from 1941 to 1969. Divided into two parts 1941-45 and 1945 -1969.
Past Conditional (Heinemann, London) 1986. The final and unfinished third book of Coward's autobiography published by Methuen
The Amazing Mr. Noël Coward (Archer, London) 1932. Patrick Braybrook The earliest, and a rather inaccurate, biography
The Art of Noël Coward (In the UK, Hand & Flower Press, England. In the US, The British Book Centre, New York) 1953 Robert Greacen. A contemporary critical assessment, encompassing Coward's literary efforts, in addition to his plays. Includes three facsimile manuscripts, one from "Future Indefinite," one from "Quadrille," and one from the lyrics to "Bad Times Are Just Around the Corner."
The Noël Coward Song Book (Michael Joseph, London) 1953. Noël Coward, Gladys Calthorpe & Clemence Dane. A song book that contains an introduction to songs from the 20s to the 50s with annotations that provide insights to their performance and place in productions. Sketches by Gladys Calthorpe and an A4 print of Clemence Dane's famous portrait of Coward. "London Pride will be handed down to us ..." from German anthem to evocative statement of English and London pride, a masterful, musical conversion. (Sir Noël Coward His Words and Music 1972. Produced in the US with songs and text drawn from The Noël Coward Song Book and published at the time of 'Oh Coward' a revue which opened at the off-Broadway, New Theatre on October 4th 1972. The show devised and directed by Roderick Cook (who also appeared in it) used the words and music of Coward contained in this book. There are photographs of Coward, Lawrence and those taking part in the show.)
Noël Coward 1968 Milton Levin Study of Coward and his work.
The Wit of Noël Coward (Leslie Frewin, London) 1968. Dick Richards (Editor). Collection of the wit of Coward compiled by the then film critic of the London Daily Mirror. Contains examples of Coward's wit both spoken and written.
A Talent To Amuse (Heinemann, London) ISBN 434478954
(Little Brown, US & Canada) 1969. Sheridan Morley. The first authorised biography about the life and work of Coward in all its varied aspects. Very useful timeline appendix.
Noël (W.H.Allen - Howard & Wyndham Ltd) ISBN 0491005342 1972. Charles Castle. A book based on a documentary film by Castle called "This is Noël Coward". Full of pictures, posters, text, extracts.
Cowardy Custard Published in the UK by Heinemann ISBN 43431905.
Published in the US by Little Brown as A Last Encore also in 1973. 1973. Edited by John Hadfield. A book that has the words of Coward set amongst contemporary photographs, paintings, sketches and posters. This allows his words to be seen against the background of the times when they were written. It is included here as it contains some biographical detail.
The Privilege of His Company (Weidenfield & Nicolson, London)
ISBN 0297769375 1975. William Marchant. Memories of Coward by the author who knew him. Provides descriptions of his contacts with Coward at parties and gatherings, plus communications and anecdotes.
The Life of Noël Coward (in the USA 'Remembered Laughter - the Life of Noël Coward') (Jonathan Cape, London) ISBN 0224012886
(Alfred A Knopf, New York) 1976. Cole Lesley. A warm and intimate telling of Coward as seen by his secretary and lifelong friend. Written as an insider and member of the trio, Coward, Payn and Lesley.
Noël Coward & His Friends Oct.1979. Cole Lesley, Graham Payn & Sheridan Morley. A pictorial and textual resource on Coward, including public and private photographs, music sheets, unpublished songs, paintings, programmes & posters, manuscript pages, decor and costume designs, letters, cables and caricatures. A celebration of his life using a large amount of material from the Estate's archives.
Remembering Noël Coward 1981. Friends of the USC Libraries. This booklet was produced by the Friends of the University of Southern California Libraries and records an evening program when Hal Kanter introduced the following guests who talked about their memories of Coward: Hermione Baddeley, Jeremy Brett, Ron Husman, Moira Lister, Mary McCarty, Roddy McDowell, Mary Martin, Murray Matheson, Patricia Morison, Graham Payn, Lyn Redgrave, Leonard Spigelgass, Saul Chaplin and Marti Stevens. The evening included the USC Chamber Singers and Jack Latimer and Harper Mackay on pianos.
Coward The Playwright 1982. John Lahr. The author looks at Coward through his plays.
Noël Coward 1986. Robert F. Kiernan. A volume that provides an overview of the life and work of Coward and five of the most significant plays.
Noël Coward 1987 Francis Gray Looks at the way Coward connected with his audience through an examination of five of his most popular plays: Hay Fever, Private Lives, Design for Living, Present Laughter and Blithe Spirit.
Richard Briers' Coward & Company 1987 Richard Briers A book that looks at Coward and his friends, Gertrude Lawrence, Bea Lillie, the Lunts etc.
Out In The Midday Sun - The Paintings of Noël Coward 1988. Sheridan Morley. Coward as painter. Reproductions of his paintings from childhood to his last home in Jamaica. Also contains photographs of Coward painting plus a view of the studio at Goldenhurst.
Noël Coward 1989. Milton Levin. Update of the 1968 study adds analysis of posthumous publications and new biographical information about Noël Coward. 138 pages Publisher: Twayne Publishers ISBN: 0805769781
Noël Coward 1992. Clive Fisher. An unauthorised biography.
Noël Coward A Bio-Bibliography (Greenwood Press, Connecticut and London) ISBN 0313285993 1993. Stephen Cole. A reference book that contains the most detailed and thorough listing and bibliography of Coward's work to date. The contents are as follows: Chronology; Biography; Plays and Appearances; Filmography; Radio Broadcasts; Television Productions and Appearances; Discography (my favourite word) Awards and Honours; Miscellaneous Projects and an Annotated Bibliography.
Noël & Cole - The Sophisticates 1992. Stephen Citron. This book includes musical and lyrical extracts with explanations and musical commentary. A book that deals, not only with the lives of the subjects, but their impact on the musical genre of the time.
My Life with Noël Coward (Applause) 1994. Graham Payn with Barry Day. A book by someone who knew and loved Coward. It is a first-hand account of a man who shared Coward's aspirations and doubts as well as his successes. It is an accessible book that provides an intimate yet respectful account of his life.
Genius and Lust - the Creative and Sexual Lives of Cole Porter and Noël Coward 1995. Joseph Morella and George Mazzei. Starts in many ways where "Noël & Cole" leaves off. Sets their lives and achievements in the context of the homosexual world that shaped their creative work.
Noël Coward A Biography 1995. Philip Hoare. Is probably the most widely respected biography not least due to the helpful structure, accessible language, detail of information and the soundness of the conclusions.
Noël Coward and Radclyffe Hall 1996. Terry Castle. A short and accessible book that looks at the relationship between two leading literary figures and the crossover between gay male and lesbian cultures in the 20th century.
Noël Coward The Complete Lyrics 1998. Barry Day. A book that provides that rare commodity a complete resource. With annotations by Barry Day, new pictures, photographs, covers etc.
Firefly (Victor Gollancz) ISBN 0575067306 1999. Chris Salewicz & Adrian Boot. This book brings together, for the first time, extracts from Coward's own diaries and contemporary quotations from those who knew him in Jamaica. This together with the collection of photographs, old and new, provides a detailed picture of his life in Jamaica.
The Quotable Noël Coward 1999. Sheridan Morley. A miniature volume of Coward quotations, edited and introduced by Sheridan Morley.
Noël Coward - A Life in Quotes 1999. Barry Day. Edited and introduced by Barry Day.
The Private Lives of Noël and Gertie 1999. Sheridan Morley. Sheridan Morley's two biographies of Noël Coward and Gertrude Lawrence brought together for the Centenary Year.
Tape and Video
Noël Coward An Audio Biography (BBC, London) 1999. Sheridan Morley introduces songs, interviews and insights into Coward. Covers all his life and provides 3 hours of listening.
South Bank Show (LWT, London Feb 1992 & Bravo, NY March 21, 1992) Edited and presented by Melvyn Bragg this one hour documentary featured extracts from archival footage from interviews in 1960 and the early 70's. Contributions from Noël Coward, Daniel Massey, Philip Hoare, John Osborne, Laurance Olivier, Graham payn, Ned Sherrin, John Mills, John Lahr, David Lean, John Gielgud, Maria Aitkin, Alex Jennings and Michael Jayston.
The Noël Coward Trilogy (BBC - Arena Programmes, London) 1998. Produced as part of the BBC Arena series in the UK this three-part biography contains movie and stills footage of most of the significant places that he lived.Phillip Hoare features as a roving presenter by foot - to the Teddington house- and bus and is part of the discussion trio that meet at the IVY, Coward's favourite restaurant, to discuss his significance. The others are Sheridan Morley and John Lahr. John Lahr shares his thoughts about Coward in both the discussion and on the tube journey he takes in the programmes. The tour around Chateau Coward at Les Avants by Graham Payn is revealing and yet respectful. In the final programme the viewer is treated to what is almost a film of the Firefly book with interviews with his friends, neighbours and employees in Jamaica at Blue Harbour and Firefly.
Copyright - The Noel Coward Society - May 2001
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