Noël Coward

Though I know I should have acquainted myself with Mr. Coward ages ago (and why I never studied him in any creative writing or literature course in my academic career I’ll never know). Perhaps, it has something to do with the powers-that-be in academia thinking that Oscar Wilde (or perhaps George Bernard Shaw) is the only bit of wit in English theatre necessary to an English major’s education. The fervor with which comedy, smart and decent comedy at any rate, is brushed to the side within higher education is astounding.

I’ve spent a good number of years now nodding when Coward’s name is mentioned and making a fine performance of pretending I was familiar with an author whose body of work I have never read. Not one single piece. So, I went to the library last weekend with the express purpose to find something. I tore through a selection of his short stories in less than a week (“This Time To-morrow” and “The Kindness of Ms. Radcliffe” being two of my favorites in the collection) and have moved onto an early operetta, Bitter Sweet.

Knowing Coward mostly as a playwright, I had no idea he also wrote songs, short stories, screenplays, and a novel or two. Finding myself rather pigeon-holed as a writer when asked, “Oh, what do you write?” and often feeling as though I have not yet found my niche (nor quite sure if I ever will). It was nice to know that someone of such esteem and brilliance dabbled in just about everything a writer could. I have a renewed hope and a “new” friend in satire.

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