Noel Coward personified the elegant, witty and faintly outrageous way of life of the upper classes between the wars. Sheridan Morley wrote his biography from a very personal angle, being associated with Coward from an early age through his grandmother, Dame Gladys Cooper.
Noel Coward achieved an early fame starring in his own play The Vortex in 1924. This success was consolidated with his plays Hay Fever (1925), Private Lives (1930) and Blithe Spirit (1941). A patriotic vein evident in his stage extravaganza Cavalcade (1931) deepened with his performance in the wartime film In Which We Serve (1942). In the same period his play Still Life was adapted into the film Brief Encounter, still regarded as a British classic to this day. He responded to the changes of the post-war world through the medium of cabaret performance and character acting while still writing hit musicals. His songs such as "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" and "Stately Homes", endure as mementos to his brilliant talent.
Sheridan Morley was one of Britain"s foremost theatre critics, broadcasters and biographers. He wrote the first biographies of David Niven and James Mason, as well as the lives of many other actors including his father, Robert Morley, and his grandmother, Dame Gladys Cooper. His authorised biography of John Gielgud was published to great critical acclaim.
‘[Morley] reminds us of a time when Coward plays such as The Vortex were considered cutting edge in their treatment of sexuality and drugs. . . . Illustrated with some well-chosen photographs, Morley’s Coward is quite as diverting as the finest work of the Master himself.’ - Barry Forshaw, The Independent