“Got all my notices from New York. All absolutely insulting and nearly all idiotic. I suddenly realized how foolish it is to allow one’s mind ever to be irritated by reviews. I write what I wish to write—later on the world can decide if it wishes to. There will always be a few people, anyhow, in every generation who will find my work entertaining and true.”—Noel Coward, diary entry for April 23, 1951, in The Noel Coward Diaries, edited by Graham Payn and Sheridan Morley (1982)
He did not always remember this wise admonition to himself about not getting irritated by reviews, especially when British critics were bypassing his drawing-room comedies in favor of the “kitchen-sink” dramas of the “Angry Young Man” movement heralded by John Osborne. But Sir Noel Coward—who died peacefully on an early morning at his Jamaica home, Firefly, on this date 40 years ago, at age 73--was perfectly correct that the value of his work would be confirmed by posterity.
I could say this occurred for the simplest of reasons--he knew how to make people laugh—but that is only partly true. This famous bon vivant was also the most industrious of men, not only churning out all kinds of work—plays, short stories, a novel, several memoirs, and hundreds of songs—but also laboring painstakingly over their construction. Not a bad model for a writer.