Jump to navigation Jump to search
Noël Peirce Coward (December 16, 1899 – March 26, 1973) was an English actor, playwright, and composer of popular music.
- [On the phone] "My dear Jim's dead...No dear, he jumped off Waterloo Bridge - Yes, the one next to Charing Cross - No, no, no that's Blackfriars."
- Early review, cited in Frank Muir's Book of Comedy Sketches
- Don’t put your daughter on the stage, Mrs. Worthington
Don’t put your daughter on the stage
The profession is overcrowded
And the struggle’s pretty tough
And admitting the fact she’s burning to act
That isn’t quite enough
She’s a big girl and though her teeth are fairly good
She’s not the type I ever would be eager to engage
I repeat, Mrs. Worthington, sweet Mrs. Worthington
Don’t put your daughter on the stage.
- Mrs Worthington (1933)
- People are wrong when they say that the opera isn't what it used to be. It is what it used to be — that's what's wrong with it!
- Design for Living, Act 3, Scene I (1933)
- The stately homes of England we proudly represent,
We only keep them up for Americans to rent.
Tho' the pipes that supply the bathroom burst
And the lavat’ry makes you fear the worst
It was used by Charles the First (quite informally),
And later by George the Fourth on a journey north,
The state apartments keep their historical reknown,
It's wiser not to sleep there in case they tumble down;
But still if they ever catch on fire
Which with any luck they might,
We'll fight for the stately homes of England.
- The Stately Homes of England from Operette (1937)
- Our families have traditions
We've heard of a thousand times
Our ancestors were unequivocally right.
They frequently went on missions
To rather peculiar climes
To lead the wretched heathen to the light.
Though some of them got beaten up and some of them stampeded
And quite a lot were eaten up - a few of them succeeded.
On one of these expeditions
An uncle we thought a bore
Turned out to be more spirited than ever he'd been before.
Poor Uncle Harry
Wanted to be a missionary
So he took a ship and sailed away.
Hotly pursued by dear Aunt Mary
Found a South Sea isle on which to stay.
The natives greeted them kindly,
And invited them to dine
On yams and clams and human hams and vintage coconut wine
The taste of which was filthy
But the after-effects divine.
- Uncle Harry from Pacific 1860 (1946)
- Charles: Anything interesting in The Times?
Ruth: Don't be silly, Charles.
- Blithe Spirit (1941)
- Hollywood is a place where some people lie on the beach and look up at the stars, whereas other people lie on the stars and look down at the beach.
- Interview with Walter Harris in 1960 reported in The Times (26 May 2009)
- I love criticism as long as it is unqualified praise.
- Quote in Margaret McManus, "Noël Coward a 'Blithe Spirit' — in Sunny Jamaica", The Des Moines Register (January 8, 1956), Section: Iowa TV Magazine, p. 5
- Wrongly attributed to Noel Coward is a quotation about the Queen of Tonga. He is alleged to have been sitting under cover from the heavy rain with Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent at the Coronation in London in 1953. Opposite them was the vast Queen Salote of Tonga. Princess Marina is supposed to have asked "Noel, who is that little man sheltering under Queen Salote's umbrella?" Coward is said to have peered through the rain and said "Oh, her lunch, my dear." In a later interview with Walter Harris, Coward revealed it had been said by someone at White's Club and was immediately attributed to Coward. "It was very flattering of course, except that I had intended to visit Tonga the following winter, and after that of course it was quite impossible."
- Interview with Walter Harris in 1960 reported in The Times (26 May 2009)
- Television is for appearing on, not looking at.
- Interview with Edward R. Murrow on Person to Person (27 April 1956)
- Noël Coward; Barry Day (2007), The Letters of Noël Coward (illustrated ed.), Alfred A. Knopf, p. 585, ISBN 9780375423031
- The Battle of Britain was twenty-three years ago and the world has forgotten it. Those young men, so many of whom I knew, flew up into the air and died for us and all we believed in... What did they die for? I suppose for themselves and what they believed was England. It was England then – for a few brave months... The peace we are enduring is not worth their deaths. England has become a third-rate power, economically and morally. We are vulgarised by American values. America, which didn't even know war on its own ground, is now dictating our policies and patronising our values. I came away from that gentle, touching, tatty little party with a heavy and sad heart. The England those boys died for has disappeared. Our history, except for stupid, squalid social scandals, is over... We are now beset by the 'clever ones', all the cheap frightened people who can see nothing but defeat and who have no pride, no knowledge of the past, no reverence for our lovely heritage... I despise the young, who see no quality in our great past and who spit, with phoney, left-wing disdain, on all that we, as a race, have contributed to the living world... I say a grateful goodbye to those foolish, gallant young men who made it possible for me to be alive today to write these sentimental words.
- Diary entry after attending the annual dinner for Battle of Britain veterans (September 1963), quoted in The Noël Coward Diaries, eds. Graham Payn and Sheridan Morley (1982), pp. 543-545
- He loved me true did Harry-boy and I loved him true, and if the happiness we gave each other was wicked and wrong in the eyes of the Law and the Church and God Almighty, then the Law and the Church and God Almighty can go dig a hole and fall down it.
- Me and the Girls (1964)
- Christopher Marlowe or Francis Bacon
The author of Lear remains unshaken
Willie Herbert or Mary Fitton
What does it matter? The Sonnets were written.
- A Question of Values.
- Proceeding on the assumption that the reader of this preface is interested in the development of my musical talent, I will try to explain, as concisely as I can, how, in this respect, my personal wheels go round. To begin with, I have only had two music lessons in my life. These were the first steps of what was to have been a full course at the Guildhall School of Music, and they faltered and stopped when I was told by my instructor that I could not use consecutive fifths. He went on to explain that a gentleman called Ebenezer Prout had announced many years ago that consecutive fifths were wrong and must in no circumstances be employed. At that time Ebenezer Prout was merely a name to me (as a matter of fact he still is, and a very funny one at that) and I was unimpressed by his Victorian dicta. I argued back that Debussy and Ravel had used consecutive fifths like mad. My instructor waved aside this triviality with a pudgy hand, and I left his presence forever with the parting shot that what was good enough for Debussy and Ravel was good enough for me. This outburst of rugged individualism deprived me of much valuable knowledge, and I have never deeply regretted it for a moment.
- Preface, The Noël Coward Song Book, pp. 12–13.
- If by any chance a playwright wishes to express a political opinion or a moral opinion or a philosophy, he must be a good enough craftsman to do it with so much spice of entertainment in it that the public get the message without being aware of it.
- Sheridan Morley, A Talent to Amuse (1985).
- Your motivation is your pay packet on Friday. Now get on with it.
- Fred Metcalf, The Penguin Dictionary of Modern Humorous Quotations (1987).
- I'll see you again,
Whenever spring breaks through again.
Private Lives (1930)
- Amanda: Whose yacht is that?
Elyot: The Duke of Westminster's I expect. It always is.
Amanda: I wish I were on it.
Elyot: I wish you were too.
Amanda: There's no need to be nasty.
Elyot: Yes, there is every need. I've never in my life felt a greater urge to be nasty.
- Elyot: I met her on a house party in Norfolk.
Amanda: Very flat, Norfolk.
Elyot: There's no need to be unpleasant.
Amanda: That was no reflection on her, unless of course she made it flatter.
- Elyot: Certain women should be struck regularly, like gongs.
- Amanda: Extraordinary how potent cheap music is.
Mad Dogs and Englishmen (1930)
- In tropical climes
There are certain times
When all the citizens retire
To take their clothes off and perspire.
It's one of those rules
That the greatest fools
Because the sun is far too sultry
And one must avoid its ultry-
- The natives grieve
When the white men leave
Because they're obviously,
- Mad Dogs & Englishmen
Go out in the midday sun.
The Japanese don't care to,
The Chinese wouldn't dare to,
The Hindus and Argentines
Sleep firmly from twelve to one,
- It's such a surprise
For Eastern eyes
That though the English are effete,
They're quite impervious to heat.
- It seems such a shame
When the English claim
That they give rise
To such hilarity
- In Rangoon
The heat of noon
Is just what the natives shun,
They put their Scotch
Or Rye down
And lie down.
- In a jungle town
Where the sun beats down
To the rage of man and beast,
The English garb
Of the English sahib
Merely gets a bit more creased.
They foam at the mouth and run,
But mad dogs and Englishmen
Go out in the midday sun.
- In Hong Kong
They strike a gong
And fire off a noonday gun
Who's in late.
- In Bengal,
To move at all
Is seldom if ever done.
Mad About the Boy (1932)
- Mad about the boy
I know it's stupid to be mad about the boy
I'm so ashamed of it but must admit the sleepless nights I've had
About the boy
- On the silverscreen
He melts my foolish heart in every single scene
Although I'm quite aware that here and there are traces of the cad
About the boy
- Lord knows I'm not a fool girl
I really shouldn't care
Lord knows I'm not a school girl
In the flurry of her first affair.
- Will it ever cloy
This odd diversity of misery and joy
I'm feeling quite insane and young again
And all because I'm mad about the boy
- So if I could employ
A little magic that will finally destroy
This dream that pains me and enchains me
But I can't because I'm mad...
I'm mad about the boy
Present Laughter (1939)
- Gary: You ought never to have joined the Athenaeum Club, Henry: it was disastrous.
Henry: I really don’t see why.
Gary: It’s made you pompous.
Henry: It can’t have. I’ve always been too frightened to go into it.
- Gary: Beryl Willard is extremely competent. Beryl Willard has been extremely competent, man and boy, for forty years. In addition to her extreme competence, she has contrived, with uncanny skill, to sustain a spotless reputation for being the most paralysing, epoch-making, monumental, world-shattering, God-awful bore that ever drew breath...I will explain one thing further - it is this. No prayer, no bribe, no threat, no power, human or divine, would induce me to go to Africa with Beryl Willard. I wouldn't go as far as Wimbledon with Beryl Willard.
Liz: What he's trying to say is that he doesn't care for Beryl Willard.
- Morris: I'll never speak to you again until the day I die!
Gary: Well, we can have a nice little chat then, can't we?
- My big break came the next year with Bitter Sweet, starring Anna Neagle. I had a dress with a plunging neckline. Noël Coward said he could see the White Cliffs of Dover and I felt devastated. If you're blind, you'll miss me in that one.
- Anna Lee, speaking with James Bawden, circa 1980s; as quoted in Conversations with Classic Film Stars: Interviews from Hollywood's Golden Era (2016) by Bawden and Ron Miller, p. 208