Noël Coward and transatlantic style
- Muirhead Tower Foyer
- Arts and Law
Noël Coward (1899-1973) was a prolific and successful playwright, composer, director, actor and singer. Join us to celebrate our special exhibition “Noël Coward: An Entertainer Abroad” drawn from material held at the Cadbury Research Library.
"We shall soon be wondering on which side of the Atlantic we live," wrote a reviewer of Coward's London Calling in 1923, prompted by the frequent exchanges of actors between England and America, and by the increase in transatlantic broadcasting. During the 1920s and 1930s, Coward made many voyages to New York, often in the company of other entertainers and writers whose work was being produced on Broadway. In media coverage of their glamorous lifestyle, the ocean liner was emblematic of modernity and cosmopolitanism. But during the postwar decades, Coward's continued preference for sea rather than air travel revealed nostalgia for a disappearing world of leisured elegance. Shipboard romance was his theme in late works such as the American-style musical Sail Away and the story "Bon Voyage".
Birmingham alumna Faye Hammill, Professor of English at the University of Strathclyde, will discuss ocean travel and transatlantic exchange in Noël Coward's stage and literary career, followed by a special exhibition viewing and drinks reception.