A TALENT TO AMUSE by Sheridan Morley


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A sedulous, thoroughgoing and highly respectable biography of Noel Coward which fills in some of the missing years he did not cover in his own more charming renditions (Present Indicative, Future Indefinite) but then charm was the passe-partout of the man whom Woolcott called Destiny's Tot. Celebrity he certainly achieved by the time he was in his twenties and commercially (if not always critically) he was able to sustain it even when appearing at 55 before the ""Nescafe Society"" of Las Vegas. Then there is no question of his recent renaissance or the year in, year out reliability of Private Lives. But of Coward's private life very little emerges here--that lithe (not always) blithe spirit who had one early crackup and in later years retreated behind the hooded enigma of his Oriental mien. But Mr. Morley has done a thorough playbill, of everything he wrote and how it was received; touches casually on those so closely connected to his career the Lunts, Gertrude Lawrence, Beatrice Lillie, etc., his travels (""My body has certainly wandered a good deal but I have an uneasy suspicion that my mind has not wandered nearly enough.""), the continuing if lessening creative activity. Ivor Brown once said ""one knows everything of what Mr. Coward does and nothing of what he is,"" an impression the book does not contradict. Perhaps he is no more than he seems and therefore seems no more than he is.

Pub Date: Oct. 17th, 1969
Publisher: Doubleday