Is the world too weary for another biography of Noel Coward? There was Sheridan Morley’s official tome during the old boy’s lifetime. And I seem to remember Morley titillating it up a bit after his death; but I could be wrong. Then there was Cole Lesley aka Leslie Cole’s pleasant, insider’s Life, an illustrated book by Charles Castle, and the Diaries. At some time William Marchaunt’s eccentric memoir arrived on my bookshelves, followed by My Life with Noel Coward, a charming and surprising evocation of their shared life by Graham Payn, who first met Coward when he was a precocious juvenile and years later, in the Forties, became his lover and then his companion and a key permanent member of his circle.
Philip Hoare’s new book, Noel Coward: A Biography, will not add much to a knowledge of the essentials of Coward’s life, family relationships and plays for anyone who has read Morley and the others. However, it is perfectly pitched for the Nineties, when we require to know everything. Hoare has