Noel Coward Audio Collection: Unabridged Selections
|Narrated By:||Simon Jones|
|Date:||31 March 2005|
Throughout his life, Noel Coward the master songwriter, 'derived a considerable amount of private pleasure from writing verse.' Much of it is gathered in this first ever CD collection. From moving war-time encounters to satirical barbs at familiar Coward targets and personal reminiscences, this delightful collection is a perfect blend of vintage Noel Coward sure to be enjoyed by faithful fans and new listeners alike.
The collection includes two short stories, Cheap Excursion and The Kindness of Mrs. Radcliffe, and various poems. And from the Caedmon Treasury Sir Noel Coward himself and Margaret Leighton perform Coward's adaptation of his Brief Encounter, scenes from Blithe Spirit and Present Laughter, the interlude from Bernard Shaw's The Apple Cart, concluding with the duo reading more from Coward's Collected Verse.
Born in Teddington, south-west London, Coward attended a dance academy in London as a child, making his professional stage début at the age of eleven. As a teenager he was introduced into the high society in which most of his plays would be set. Coward achieved enduring success as a playwright, publishing more than 50 plays from his teens onwards. Many of his works, such as Hay Fever, Private Lives, Design for Living, Present Laughter and Blithe Spirit, have remained in the regular theatre repertoire. He composed hundreds of songs, in addition to well over a dozen musical theatre works (including the operetta Bitter Sweet and comic revues), screenplays, poetry, several volumes of short stories, the novel Pomp and Circumstance, and a three-volume autobiography. Coward's stage and film acting and directing career spanned six decades, during which he starred in many of his own works.
At the outbreak of the Second World War Coward volunteered for war work, running the British propaganda office in Paris. He also worked with the Secret Service, seeking to use his influence to persuade the American public and government to help Britain. Coward won an Academy Honorary Award in 1943 for his naval film drama, In Which We Serve, and was knighted in 1969. In the 1950s he achieved fresh success as a cabaret performer, performing his own songs, such as "Mad Dogs and Englishmen", "London Pride" and "I Went to a Marvellous Party".
His plays and songs achieved new popularity in the 1960s and 1970s, and his work and style continue to influence popular culture. Coward did not publicly acknowledge his homosexuality, but it was discussed candidly after his death by biographers including Graham Payn, his long-time partner, and in Coward's diaries and letters, published posthumously. The former Albery Theatre (originally the New Theatre) in London was renamed the Noël Coward Theatre in his honour in 2006.