The Twickenham Museum
People : Actors and Actresses

NoŽl Coward
Dramatist, actor and cabaret artist
1899 - 1973

The Coward family of Teddington

NoŽl Coward was born at Teddington, where the family had been living since 1883, on 16 December 1899. He was the son of Arthur Coward and Violet Veitch.

In his first autobiography he wrote that they were a musical family and underpinned the musical life of St Alban's Church.

131 Waldegrave Road, Teddington, Coward's home until 1908.

"...the church's greatest asset was the Coward family, which was enormous, active, and fiercely musical. My Uncle Jim played the organ, while my father, together with my uncle Randolph, Walter, Percy, and Gordon, and my Aunt Hilda, Myrrha, Ida, and Nellie, graced the choir. Aunt Hilda, indeed, achieved such distinction as a 'coloratura' that she ultimately became known as 'The Twickenham Nightingale'."

Playwriter and actor

The family moved away from Teddington to Battersea in 1908 and two years later NoŽl made his first appearance on stage in a fairy play, The Goldfish. By 1917 he had written several plays.

He was knighted in 1970 and that year his entry in Who's Who listed 43 plays and other stage or film productions including Present Laughter, Blithe Spirit, This Happy Breed, The Vortex, Private Lives, In Which we Serve and Brief Encounter.

In 1948 he went over to Jamaica, building a house at Roundhill near Port Maria: Blue Harbour. He bought a second house uphill: Look Out (which he renamed Firefly). This he used as a refuge from too many visitors. In 1959 he settled, a tax exile, at Les Avants, in Switzerland; but it was at Firefly that he died, and was buried, on 26 March 1973

Further reading:

NoŽl Coward, Future Indefinite, 1954
Present Indicative, Evergreen Books, 1940,
Who's Who, 1970
The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

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