Cover image for The Noel Coward diaries
The Noel Coward diaries
Coward, Noel, 1899-1973.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
London : Phoenix, 2000.

Physical Description:
698 pages ; 24 cm
General Note:
Originally published: London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1982.

Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PR6005.O85 Z47C Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Witty and sophisticated, a brilliant dramatist and a charismatic actor, the multitalented Noel Coward was one of the most colorful personalities who ever strode across the stage. These diaries chronicle the last 30 years of his life, from his wartime concert tours through his private and professional depression in the 1950s to his triumphant reemergence and knighthood in the 1960s and '70s. "Compulsive reading...what Coward has to say about other people is light-hearted, witty, often shrewd, totally without malice...his final entertainment for everyone's pleasure are these diaries." --"Sunday Times." "A constant delight. A goldmine of gossip with a cast of a thousand stars."

Author Notes

In 1964, when Hay Fever (1925) was placed in the repertory of the newly organized National Theatre, Noel Coward professed to be grateful: "Bless you for admitting that I'm a classic." A week-long series of Coward played on BBC television in 1969; there have been major revivals in London and New York; plays long out of print have been republished in popular collections. At the start of the 1960s, though, Coward's reputation had been at an ebb, as he skirmished with the angry new drama. Coward had enjoyed no big success since Blithe Spirit of 1941.

There have been attempts to assimilate the rehabilitated Coward to contemporary drama. Coward himself profited from the new freedom when, in 1965, his Song at Twilight discussed homosexuality, a subject that he had evaded throughout his career.

A juvenile prodigy, Coward was by turns actor, director, composer, lyricist, autobiographer, and author of nearly 60 theater pieces. He even wrote screenplays, notably for In Which We Serve (1942) and Brief Encounter (1946). Although he specialized in light comedy, the so-called comedy of manners, he worked in many forms including patriotic spectacle, revue, musical, farce, even the problem play. Hay Fever, Blithe Spirit, and Private Lives (1930) have proved to be the most durable of his comedies, along with nine short plays presented as Tonight at 8:30. In each, characters demonstrate the combination of perpetual role playing, cool hedonism, and energizing self-absorption.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Coward's diaries from 1941 to 1969 offer an intimate look at the last 30 years of the life of the popular, sophisticated British playwright and author. While some of the entries are of the "Stayed out until 4 at Mrs. B___'s party" variety, more of them give insight into Coward's well-connected life. Coward knew or met hundreds of people working in the theater, the movies, and the government, and encounters with Vivien Leigh, Marilyn Monroe, King George IV, Winston Churchill and the Queen Mother, to name just a few, are included here. Excellent footnotes provided by editors Morley and Payn (My Life with Noel Coward) give a one-sentence description of such notables as "Larry" (Laurence Olivier) and "Dickie" (Lord Louis Mountbatten). Coward wrote these diaries with an eye toward publishing and therefore seemed to take great care to write, if not kindly about everyone, then perhaps not as harshly as he could have. Still, there are enough juicy tidbits to satisfy any biography-reading seeker of stars, starlets, and royalty. A thorough index enhances star browsing. For public libraries. J. Sara Paulk, Coastal Plain Reg. Lib., Tifton, GA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.