Francis King

Coarse and Classy

Coral Browne: ‘This Effing Lady’

By

Oberon 322pp £19.99 order from our bookshop

Like the American actress Tallulah Bankhead, the Australian-born Coral Browne was celebrated not only for her mastery of any role, however feebly written or demanding, but also for her imperious elegance and savage wit. As with Bankhead, the edge of that wit was continually sharpened by the word to which the subtitle of this biography demurely makes reference. When, at the first performance of Pygmalion, Mrs Patrick Campbell’s Eliza uttered her ‘Not bloody likely!’, the audience initially gasped and then surrendered to shocked laughter. It was the same when Coral Browne came out with an expletive shorter and far cruder.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'It would be nice to think that women will achieve equal pay in my lifetime, rather than to watch gloomily as stati… ,
    • In 1660, two of the signatories of King Charles I's death warrant fled across the Atlantic to New England. But were… ,
    • Howard Jacobson's sixteenth novel is 'a love story of sorts, one characterised not by physical desire or even conta… ,
    • 'The sudden immersion in the new and unfamiliar can lead people to write with a rare lack of self-consciousness' P… ,
    • 'Pools bend the rules. Clothes slip off, skin glistens, consciousness heightens. A dreamlike scenario unfolds' Jam… ,
    • 'Although he surely didn’t know W H Auden’s theory that every high C proclaims human freedom and our capacity to tr… ,
    • RT : With beginning tomorrow, we've uncovered a 1997 article from the archive reviewing 'Golf Dream… ,