ON THIS DAY    3 June      Graphics version >>   BBC News >>
Search ON THIS DAY by date   
  Go back one day Go forward one day

Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
1957: Noel Coward comes home

Noel Coward has returned to Britain from the West Indies amid criticism that he is living abroad to avoid paying income tax.

He arrived at Southampton on the Queen Elizabeth liner dressed in a black tweed jacket with a white diamond pattern, dark trousers and a black and white check bow tie.

He brushed off questions about tax evasion saying he was "disgusted but entirely unworried" by talk of him being a tax exile.

Earlier in the French port of Cherbourg, he told one reporter he found the whole issue embarrassing and the talk of money "rather vulgar".

"I am an artist and am delighted to talk about the my plays and my acting and my work generally but not about my money affairs," he said.

In love with Jamaica

He told the BBC he had spent the last winter in Jamaica working on his new book and some songs, but he would not go into any detail.

"I never like discussing anything I'm writing while I'm doing it because it might put me off."

He would only say it was a novel about people.

He plans to stay in Britain for three weeks. He will catch with friends and go to see his play "Nude with Violin" starring Michael Wilding who takes over from Sir John Gielgud.

He will then travel to Paris and the South of France.

Mr Coward has made a name for himself with his plays offering bitter sweet portrayals of the pre-war years and as a composer of witty ditties.

His most famous songs include Mad Dogs and Englishmen and Mad About the Boy.

He first fell in love with Jamaica in 1943 where he went to recover from flu while on a trip to the US.

He returned in 1948 when he bought land to build a property.

In Context

In the 1950s Noel Coward's career was on the wane and it was at this point that he developed a cabaret act that revived his fortunes.

Although principally revered as a playwright - he was responsible for more than 60 productions - Coward was also an actor, composer and songwriter.

In his last years, Coward lived with his companion Graham Payn in Jamaica where he built a small retreat called Firefly Hill.

The house is a museum to Coward and one of Jamaica's top tourist attractions.

He was knighted in 1970 and died in 1973.


Search ON THIS DAY by date   
  Go back one day Go forward one day

Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
^^ Back to top |