The Letters of Noel Coward
The Letters of Noel Coward edited by Barry Day.
Publisher: 3rd Edition (December 13, 2007)
Lavishly illustrated and annotated, this first and definitive collection of letters to and from Coward provides a divine portrait of an age, from the Blitz to the Ritz and beyond.
The incomparable Noël Coward loved to correspond with friends, enemies, the famous and infamous, the talented and the powerful, including Virginia Woolf, Winston Churchill, Greta Garbo, Laurence Olivier, Katharine Hepburn, Marlene Dietrich, Lawrence of Arabia, Somerset Maugham, and many more. Granted unlimited access to the Coward archive, Barry Day presents many never-published letters and has unearthed new, startling evidence of Coward's wartime work as a spy. Along with 191 rare photographs, these letters bring to life the people and events that shaped the twentieth century—and a remarkable man who made his own indelible mark at the heart of it.
If you have no interest in Noel Coward, this is not the book for you! At 756 pages you would be hard pressed to even hold this heavy book let alone read it!
I was hearing really good things about this book and so when I came across it at Friends of the Library I thought I would give it a go. And so I did.
First off I will tell you that I did read the entire book ..although there was a bit of *skimming* now and then. It was a very interesting book but I have to admit that it didn’t grip me as other books have. I didn’t find myself picking up the book the instant I sat in my reading chair , and so it took me longer than expected to finish the book.
However if you want to know every play and song Noel wrote and who the actors were in every play or movie, this book covers it all! It doesn’t leave out much, and includes the love he had for his mother and many letters to her and many others of course.
Towards the end it also includes mentioning his friendship with the Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth.
This was very much a book that could be called “The Name Dropper”. Of course many in his younger years aren’t nearly as familiar names as in his later years. One of his many friends and his dear penpal turns out to be Nancy Mitford who I recently read about her and all her sisters.
There are way too many “names” mentioned in the book to list them all but a few I jotted down consist of:
Peggy Wood , Daphne du Mauier, Clifton Webb, Laurence Olivier, Charles Chaplin, Ethel Barrymore, Douglas Fairbanks, Basil Rathbone, Margaret Rutherford, Ruth Gordon, Helen Hayes, Nigel Bruce, Zazu Pitts and H.G. Wells… and that’s just the tip of the iceberg! (I realize many young people don’t even know many of those names, but having grown up on the “old” black and white movies I know them all!) Just to bring maybe one name up to date… Peggy Wood. (many are going , who?) Well if you’ve seen the Sound of Music you have seen Peggy Wood.. she is the singing “head nun” in the movie. She also did a television series when I was young called “I Remember Mama”. …. gawd I feel ancient! But that figures since “I AM”! *sigh*
Surely he was a genius of a man. Author/ Playwright/writer of music and actor. His letters and the writing between the letters tells much about the man but sadly neglects the happenings of the world at the same time. It’s one of those books you have to want to read to get through it. All 756 pages!