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Coward, Noël

Entry updated 3 July 2023. Tagged: Author, Theatre.

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(1899-1973) UK actor, poet, composer, playwright and author, who performed professionally on the stage from 1911 and in films from 1917; after some apprentice work beginning in 1917, his first successfully produced play I'll Leave It To You (performed 1920; 1920 chap) was followed by dozens of successful comedic satires over the next decades. He did not often engage in the fantastic as a dramatist (and never as a fiction writer), though his anti-war play, Post-Mortem: A Play in Eight Scenes (1931), features the ghost of a soldier killed during World War One, in which Coward served briefly, who appears in 1930 to excoriate contemporary Britain for dismissing the lessons of the terrible conflict (see Amnesia). Blithe Spirit: An Improbable Farce in Three Acts (performed 1941; 1942) also turns on the actions of a ghost (see Supernatural Creatures).

Of sf interest is the Hitler Wins Alternate History drama, "Peace in Our Time": A Play in Two Acts and Eight Scenes (performed 1947; 1947), which describes acutely, but without much kindness, an occupied Britain. The play was not a success in the post-War environment, but on the page conveys a melancholy wisdom. His last decades, as performer and personality, were very successful.

Coward was knighted in 1970. [JC]

see also: Theatre.

Sir Noël Peirce Coward

born Teddington-on-Thames, Middlesex: 16 December 1899

died Firefly, Jamaica: 26 March 1973

works (highly selected)


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