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Present Indicative: The Autobiography of Noël Coward, Vol. 1 (Biography and Autobiography) Paperback – May 20, 2004

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Methuen Drama (May 20, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0413774139
  • ISBN-13: 978-0413774132
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,339,762 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"He is simply a phenomenon, and one that is unlikely to occur ever again in theatre history."—Terence Rattigan

About the Author

Noël Coward was born in Teddington, Middlesex on 16 December 1899. A professional stage actor from the age of twelve, Coward later created a sensation as a playwright, with titles such as Hay Fever, The Vortex, Private Lives, Cavalcade, Blithe Spirit, and Design For Living. In the forties he was involved in film, with adaptations of Blithe Spirit and Brief Encounter, before starting a new career as a cabaret performer in the fifties. A celebrated wit and prodigious theatrical talent, Coward wrote over a hundred works in various different genres. He was knighted in 1970 and died three years later in Jamaica.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By disheveledprofessor on October 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
I have read this book several times over the last 30 years. And while I enjoy it from time to time, I must confess that I am surprised that it is being re-released. Is the audience for theatrical history that large?

Coward's early autobiography will appeal to lovers of the theatre. There is naturally a lot of theatrical background and name-dropping, but many of those names, while important names, may be unfamiliar with today's reader [Sir Charles Hawtrey, Madge Titheradge, etc.]. Others of course, still resound today: Gertrude Lawrence, Laurence Olivier, Gielgud.

Coward's wit drips from every page, often self-deprecating, but always discreet [no mention of his homosexuality, etc.], amusing and in good taste. Coward focuses on his professional life, and not his personal life. It doesn't have the insight that Moss Hart's "Act One" has. Since the memoir was written in 1937, naturally a great portion deals with his early life, and the insight to impoverished genteel life in the early part of the century is fascinating.
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By R. de Aquino on December 2, 2014
Format: Paperback
Deliciously witty, delightfully funny, wonderfully informative, the first volume of Noel Coward's autobiography may well be the best memoir ever written by a man of the theatre. It spans Coward's life from birth to 1931, when he was 32, and constitutes a dazzling display of his elegantly dry, ironic sensibility. The book is a precious testimony of British, and partly American, theatrical life from about 1910 to 1930: Coward's early experiences, his growing into a brilliant young actor-singer-playwright, his personal relationships and significant friendships with a galaxy of major stars and entertainers of all kinds, his family life, his trips and hobnobbings with the international jet set, PRESENT INDICATIVE describes it all with gusto. From our perspective, reading it is a source of continual pleasure and, on occasion, one feels nostalgic for a world that is long gone, a world whose glittering lights we can only imagine, peopled by fascinating personalities that have become mythical to us. I got the book as a gift from a friend and have treasured it ever since. My only regret is that Coward never writes about his emotional life, his romantic relationships, and although he had the right to keep his private life private, I cannot but feel that it would have been wonderful to have his thoughts on love, on personal experiences both happy and sad, on a whole sphere of his being in the world that will forever remain obscure, veiled and hidden to his many admirers.
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