Ivor Novello
David Ivor Davies better known as Ivor Novello, was a Welsh composer, singer and actor who became one of the most popular British entertainers of the first half of the 20th century. Born into a musical family, his first successes were as a songwriter. His first big hit was "Keep the Home Fires Burning", which was enormously popular during the First World War. After the war, Novello contributed numbers to several successful musical comedies
Edwardian Musical Comedy
Edwardian musical comedies were British musical theatre shows from the period between the early 1890s, when the Gilbert and Sullivan operas' dominance had ended, until the rise of the American musicals by Jerome Kern, Rodgers and Hart, George Gershwin and Cole Porter following World War I.Between...

 and was eventually commissioned to write the scores of complete shows. In the 1920s, he turned to acting, first in films and then on stage, with considerable success in both.

Early years

Novello was born in Cardiff
Cardiff is the capital, largest city and most populous county of Wales and the 10th largest city in the United Kingdom. The city is Wales' chief commercial centre, the base for most national cultural and sporting institutions, the Welsh national media, and the seat of the National Assembly for...

, Wales, to David Davies (c. 1852 — 1931), a rent collector for the city council, and his wife, Clara Novello Davies
Clara Novello Davies
Clara Novello Davies was a well-known Welsh singer, teacher and conductor.Clara Novello Davies was born in Cardiff to Jacob, a miner, and Margaret Davies and named after Clara Novello, a famous soprano . Her father, leader of the church choir, taught her to play the harmonium...

, an internationally-known singing teacher and choral conductor. As a boy, Novello was a successful singer in the Welsh Eisteddfod
National Eisteddfod of Wales
The National Eisteddfod of Wales is the most important of several eisteddfodau that are held annually, mostly in Wales.- Organisation :...

. His mother set up as voice teacher in London, where he met leading performers, including members of George Edwardes
George Edwardes
George Joseph Edwardes was an English theatre manager of Irish ancestry who brought a new era in musical theatre to the British stage and beyond....

's Gaiety Theatre
Gaiety Theatre
The Gaiety Theatre is a theatre on South King Street in Dublin, Ireland, off Grafton Street and close to St. Stephen's Green. It specialises in operatic and musical productions, with occasional dramatic shows.-History:Designed by architect C.J...

 company, classical musicians such as Landon Ronald
Landon Ronald
Sir Landon Ronald was an English conductor, composer, pianist, singing teacher and administrator...

, and singers such as Adelina Patti
Adelina Patti
Adelina Patti was a highly acclaimed 19th-century opera singer, earning huge fees at the height of her career in the music capitals of Europe and America. She first sang in public as a child in 1851 and gave her last performance before an audience in 1914...

. Another of his mother's associates was Clara Butt
Clara Butt
Dame Clara Ellen Butt DBE , sometimes called Clara Butt-Rumford after her marriage, was an English contralto with a remarkably imposing voice and a surprisingly agile singing technique. Her main career was as a recitalist and concert singer.-Early life and career:Clara Butt was born in Southwick,...

, who taught him to sing "Abide with Me
Abide With Me
The hymn tune most often used with this hymn is "Eventide" composed by William Henry Monk in 1861.Alternate tunes include:* "Abide with Me," Henry Lyte, 1847* "Morecambe", Frederick C...

" when he was a boy of six.

Novello was educated privately in Cardiff and then in Gloucester, where he studied harmony and counterpoint with Herbert Brewer
Herbert Brewer
Sir Arthur Herbert Brewer was an English composer and organist. As organist of Gloucester Cathedral from 1896 until his death, he contributed a good deal to the Three Choirs Festival for 30 years....

, the cathedral organist. From there he won a scholarship to Magdalen College School
Magdalen College School, Oxford
Magdalen College School is an independent school for boys aged 7 to 18 and girls in the sixth form, located on The Plain in Oxford, England. It was founded as part of Magdalen College, Oxford by William Waynflete in 1480....

 in Oxford
The city of Oxford is the county town of Oxfordshire, England. The city, made prominent by its medieval university, has a population of just under 165,000, with 153,900 living within the district boundary. It lies about 50 miles north-west of London. The rivers Cherwell and Thames run through...

, where he was a solo treble in the college choir. He later said that this prolonged youthful exposure to early sacred choral music had turned his tastes, in reaction, to lush romantic music. Although Brewer had told him he would not have a career in music, Novello from his early youth showed a facility for writing songs, and when he was only 15, one of his songs was published. After leaving school, he gave piano lessons in Cardiff, and then moved to London in 1913. He took a flat above the Strand Theatre
Novello Theatre
The Novello Theatre is a West End theatre on Aldwych, in the City of Westminster.-History:The theatre was built as one of a pair with the Aldwych Theatre on either side of the Waldorf Hotel, both being designed by W. G. R. Sprague. The theatre opened as the Waldorf Theatre on 22 May 1905, and was...

, which became his London home for the rest of his life.

In London he found a mentor in Sir Edward Marsh, a well-known patron of the arts. Marsh encouraged him to compose and introduced him to people who could help his career. He adopted part of his mother's maiden name, "Novello" as his professional surname, although he did not change it legally until 1927.

In 1914, at the start of the First World War, Novello wrote "Keep the Home Fires Burning", a song that expressed the feelings of innumerable families sundered by World War I. Novello composed the music for the song to a lyric by the American Lena Guilbert-Ford, and it became a huge popular success, bringing Novello money and fame at the age of 21. In other respects, the war had less impact on Novello than on many young men of his age. He avoided active service until June 1916, when he reported to a Royal Naval Air Service
Royal Naval Air Service
The Royal Naval Air Service or RNAS was the air arm of the Royal Navy until near the end of the First World War, when it merged with the British Army's Royal Flying Corps to form a new service , the Royal Air Force...

 (RNAS) training depot as a probationary flight sub-lieutenant. After twice crashing an aeroplane, and with the influence of Marsh, he was moved to the Air Ministry
Air Ministry
The Air Ministry was a department of the British Government with the responsibility of managing the affairs of the Royal Air Force, that existed from 1918 to 1964...

 office in central London performing clerical duties for the duration of the war.

Composer and actor

Novello continued to write songs while serving in the RNAS. He had his first stage success with Theodore & Co
Theodore & Co
Theodore & Co is an English musical comedy in two acts with a book by H. M. Harwood and George Grossmith, Jr. , with music by Ivor Novello and Jerome Kern and lyrics by Adrian Ross and Clifford Grey. It was produced by Grossmith and Edward Laurillard, opening at the Gaiety Theatre on 19 September...

in 1916, a production by George Grossmith, Jr.
George Grossmith, Jr.
George Grossmith, Jr. was a British actor, theatre producer and manager, director, playwright and songwriter, best remembered for his work in and with Edwardian musical comedies...

 and Edward Laurillard
Edward Laurillard
Edward Laurillard was a cinema and theatre producer in London and New York during the first third of the 20th century...

 with a score composed by Novello and the young Jerome Kern
Jerome Kern
Jerome David Kern was an American composer of musical theatre and popular music. One of the most important American theatre composers of the early 20th century, he wrote more than 700 songs, used in over 100 stage works, including such classics as "Ol' Man River", "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man", "A...

. In the same year, Novello contributed to André Charlot
André Charlot
André Eugene Maurice Charlot was a French impresario known primarily for the highly successful musical revues he staged in London between 1912 and 1937...

's revue See-Saw. In 1917 he wrote for another Grossmith and Laurillard production, the operette
Operetta is a genre of light opera, light in terms both of music and subject matter. It is also closely related, in English-language works, to forms of musical theatre.-Origins:...

 Arlette, for which he contributed additional numbers to an existing French score by Jane Vieu
Jane Vieu
Jane Vieu was a French composer who also published works under the pseudonym Pierre Valette. Vieu published orchestral, chamber, piano, and operatic works and forty-five songs...

 and Guy le Feuvre. In the same year, Marsh introduced him to the actor Bobbie Andrews, who became Novello's life partner. Andrews introduced Novello to the young Noël Coward
Noël Coward
Sir Noël Peirce Coward was an English playwright, composer, director, actor and singer, known for his wit, flamboyance, and what Time magazine called "a sense of personal style, a combination of cheek and chic, pose and poise".Born in Teddington, a suburb of London, Coward attended a dance academy...

. Coward, six years Novello's junior, was deeply envious of Novello's effortless glamour. He wrote, "I just felt suddenly conscious of the long way I had to go before I could break into the magic atmosphere in which he moved and breathed with such nonchalance".

In 1918 and after the war, Novello continued to write successfully for musical comedy and revue. The former included Who's Hooper? (1919), an adaptation of a Pinero
Arthur Wing Pinero
Sir Arthur Wing Pinero was an English actor and later an important dramatist and stage director.-Biography:...

 play, with a book by Fred Thompson
Fred Thompson (writer)
Frederick A. Thompson, usually credited as Fred Thompson was an English writer, best known as a librettist for about fifty British and American musical comedies from World War I to World War II. Among the writers with whom he collaborated were George Grossmith Jr., P. G. Wodehouse, Guy Bolton and...

, lyrics by Clifford Grey
Clifford Grey
Clifford Grey was an English songwriter, actor, librettist and Olympic medalist. His birth name was Percival Davis, and he was also known as Clifford Gray, Tippi Gray, Tippi Grey, Tippy Gray and Tippy Grey.As a writer, Grey contributed prolifically to West End and Broadway shows, as librettist and...

, and music by Howard Talbot
Howard Talbot
Richard Lansdale Munkittrick, better known as Howard Talbot , was an American-born, English-raised conductor and composer of Irish descent...

 and Novello, and The Golden Moth by Thompson and P.G. Wodehouse (1921), for which Novello provided the entire score. For Charlot, he contributed numbers to the revues Tabs (1918), A to Z (1921) and Puppets (1924). For the second of these, his songs included one of his few well-known comedy numbers, "And her mother came too", with lyrics by Dion Titheradge, written for Jack Buchanan
Jack Buchanan
Walter John "Jack" Buchanan was a British theatre and film actor, singer, producer and director. He was known for three decades as the embodiment of the debonair man-about-town in the tradition of George Grossmith Jr., and was described by The Times as "the last of the knuts." He is best known in...


At the same time as his successes as a composer, Novello was making a career as an actor. With "a classic profile that gained him matinee idol status amongst the film-going public", he was sought out on the strength of a publicity photograph by the Swiss film director Louis Mercanton
Louis Mercanton
Louis Mercanton was a Swiss film director, Screenwriter and actor.-Selected filmography:Director* Les Amours de la reine Élisabeth co-director* Le mystère de la villa rose * The Nipper * Octave...

. Mercanton offered him a silent-film role as the romantic lead in The Call of the Blood (1920). In the same year, he made another film for Mercanton, Miarka. Novello made his first English film, Carnival, the following year.

Novello made his stage debut in 1921 in Deburau by Sacha Guitry
Sacha Guitry
Alexandre-Pierre Georges Guitry was a French stage actor, film actor, director, screenwriter, and playwright of the Boulevard theatre.- Biography :...

 with Robert Loraine
Robert Loraine
Robert Loraine was a successful Broadway and London stage actor, actor-manager and soldier who later enjoyed a side career as a pioneer aviator. Born in New Brighton, England his father was Henry Loraine and Robert made his first stage appearance in the English provinces in 1889. He served in the...

, Madge Titheradge
Madge Titheradge
Madge Titheradge was an actress, born into a theatrical family in Melbourne, Australia.-Biography:Her father was the English-born actor George Sutton Titheradge, and the eleven-year-old Madge had already done stage work with Australia's Brough-Boucicault and Bland Holt companies when the family...

 and Bobbie Andrews, and among other stage engagements, in the next years he played Bingley in an adaptation of Pride and Prejudice
Pride and Prejudice
Pride and Prejudice is a novel by Jane Austen, first published in 1813. The story follows the main character Elizabeth Bennet as she deals with issues of manners, upbringing, morality, education and marriage in the society of the landed gentry of early 19th-century England...

with Ben Webster
Ben Webster
Benjamin Francis Webster , a.k.a. "The Brute" or "Frog," was an influential American jazz tenor saxophonist. Webster, born in Kansas City, Missouri, was considered one of the three most important "swing tenors" along with Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young...

 as D'Arcy and Mary Jerrold
Mary Jerrold
Mary Jerrold was a British actress. She was married to actor Hubert Harben and mother of celebrity chef Philip Harben.-Selected filmography:* The Great Defender * Jack of All Trades * Return to Yesterday...

 as Elizabeth, in a cast that included Ellen Terry
Ellen Terry
Dame Ellen Terry, GBE was an English stage actress who became the leading Shakespearean actress in Britain. Among the members of her famous family is her great nephew, John Gielgud....

, May Whitty
May Whitty
Dame May Whitty, DBE , born Mary Louise Whitty, was an English stage actress who appeared in numerous films in later life, achieving recognition in several character roles.-Background:...

 and Joyce Carey
Joyce Carey
Joyce Carey, OBE was a British actress, best known for her long professional and personal relationship with Noël Coward. Her stage career lasted from 1916 until 1984, and she was performing on television in her nineties. Though never a star, she was a familiar face both on stage and screen...

. At about this time, Novello had an affair with the writer Siegfried Sassoon
Siegfried Sassoon
Siegfried Loraine Sassoon CBE MC was an English poet, author and soldier. Decorated for bravery on the Western Front, he became one of the leading poets of the First World War. His poetry both described the horrors of the trenches, and satirised the patriotic pretensions of those who, in Sassoon's...

; it was short lived, but in the words of Sassoon's biographer John Stuart Roberts, Novello "was a consummate flirt who collected lovers as he gathered lilacs."

In 1923, Novello made his American movie debut in D. W. Griffith
D. W. Griffith
David Llewelyn Wark Griffith was a premier pioneering American film director. He is best known as the director of the controversial and groundbreaking 1915 film The Birth of a Nation and the subsequent film Intolerance .Griffith's film The Birth of a Nation made pioneering use of advanced camera...

's The White Rose. Back in England he co-wrote, produced and starred in the successful 1924 play The Rat. The play was made into a film in 1925, which was so successful that two sequels followed in 1926 and 1928. His dramatic roles in the West End
West End theatre
West End theatre is a popular term for mainstream professional theatre staged in the large theatres of London's 'Theatreland', the West End. Along with New York's Broadway theatre, West End theatre is usually considered to represent the highest level of commercial theatre in the English speaking...

 included the title character in the first London production of Ferenc Molnár
Ferenc Molnár
LanguageFerenc Molnár was a Hungarian dramatist and novelist. His Americanized name was Franz Molnar...

's Liliom
Liliom is a 1909 play by the Hungarian playwright Ferenc Molnár. It was very famous in its own right during the early to mid-20th century, but is best known today as the basis for the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel.- Plot :...


Other films in which Novello starred included Alfred Hitchcock
Alfred Hitchcock
Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock, KBE was a British film director and producer. He pioneered many techniques in the suspense and psychological thriller genres. After a successful career in British cinema in both silent films and early talkies, Hitchcock moved to Hollywood...

's The Lodger
The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog
The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog is a silent film directed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1926 and released on 14 February 1927 in London and on 10 June 1928 in New York City. The film, based on a story by Marie Belloc Lowndes and a play Who Is He? co-written by Belloc Lowndes, concerns the hunt for a...

(1926), where he played the sinister title character, and Downhill
Downhill (film)
Downhill is a 1927 silent film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and based on the play Down Hill. It is Hitchcock's fifth film as director.-Plot:...

(1927). The British film company Gainsborough Pictures
Gainsborough Pictures
Gainsborough Pictures was a British film studio based on the south bank of the Regent's Canal, in Poole Street, Hoxton in the former Metropolitan Borough of Shoreditch, London. Gainsborough Studios were active between 1924 and 1951. Built as a power station for the Great Northern & City Railway it...

 offered Novello a well-paid contract, which enabled him to buy a country house in Littlewick Green
Littlewick Green
Littlewick Green is a small village in the north of the civil parish of White Waltham in the English county of Berkshire, located near Maidenhead....

, near Maidenhead
Maidenhead is a town and unparished area within the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, in Berkshire, England. It lies on the River Thames and is situated west of Charing Cross in London.-History:...

. He renamed the property Redroofs, and he entertained there famously and with little regard for convention. Cecil Beaton
Cecil Beaton
Sir Cecil Walter Hardy Beaton, CBE was an English fashion and portrait photographer, diarist, painter, interior designer and an Academy Award-winning stage and costume designer for films and the theatre...

, noting the frequent homosexual excesses, coined the phrase, "the Ivor/Noel naughty set". Coward had by now caught Novello up professionally, despite a joint disaster when Novello starred in Coward's play Sirocco in 1927, which was a débâcle, and closed within a month of opening. In 1928 Novello starred in the silent adaptation of Coward's much more successful The Vortex
The Vortex
The Vortex is a play by the English writer and actor Noël Coward. The story focuses on sexual vanity and drug abuse among the upper classes. The play was Coward's first great commercial success....

, and made his last silent film, A South Sea Bubble
A South Sea Bubble
A South Sea Bubble is a 1928 British comedy film directed by T. Hayes Hunter and starring Ivor Novello, Benita Hume and Alma Taylor. A group of adventurers head to the Pacific Ocean to hunt for buried treasure.-Cast:* Ivor Novello ... Vernon Winslow...


Novello returned to composing for the lyric stage in 1929, writing eight numbers for the revue The House that Jack Built. In the same year, he presented his own play Symphony in Two Flats, which he took to New York the following year. It was followed by a successful Broadway
Broadway theatre
Broadway theatre, commonly called simply Broadway, refers to theatrical performances presented in one of the 40 professional theatres with 500 or more seats located in the Theatre District centered along Broadway, and in Lincoln Center, in Manhattan in New York City...

 production of his The Truth Game, which brought him to the attention of Hollywood studios. He accepted a contract to write for and appear in MGM films. He found little to do in Hollywood, however, beyond writing the dialogue for Tarzan the Ape Man. Returning to London, he starred in the sound remake of The Lodger
The Lodger (1932 film)
The Lodger is a British thriller film directed by Maurice Elvey and starring Ivor Novello, Elizabeth Allan and Jack Hawkins. It is based on the novel The Lodger by Marie Belloc Lowndes, also filmed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1927, by John Brahm in 1944, as Man in the Attic directed by Hugo Fregonese,...


1930s musicals

After beginning the 1930s with a series of non-musical plays, I Lived With You (1932), Fresh Fields, Proscenium, Sunshine Sisters, Flies in the Sun (all 1933) and Murder in Mayfair (1934), Novello returned to composition in 1935 with Glamorous Night
Glamorous Night
Glamorous Night is a musical with a book and music by Ivor Novello and lyrics by Christopher Hassall, Novello's collaborator in six of the eight Novello musicals staged between 1935 and 1951...

, which was the first of a series of enormously popular musicals. The Times
The Times
The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

considered that it was for these that Novello would be popularly remembered. Paul Webb, in the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians
Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians
The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians is an encyclopedic dictionary of music and musicians. Along with the German-language Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, it is the largest single reference work on Western music. The dictionary has gone through several editions since the 19th century...

, writes that Novello's show saved the fortunes of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane
Theatre Royal, Drury Lane
The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane is a West End theatre in Covent Garden, in the City of Westminster, a borough of London. The building faces Catherine Street and backs onto Drury Lane. The building standing today is the most recent in a line of four theatres at the same location dating back to 1663,...


Another model was Coward's 1929 musical Bitter Sweet
Bitter Sweet
Bitter Sweet is an operetta in three acts written by Noël Coward and first produced in 1929 at Her Majesty's Theatre in London. It ran for a very successful 967 performances....

, which Novello called "a lovely, lovely thing … sheer joy from beginning to end". That, too, was an old-fashioned musical, "so full of regret … for a vanished kindly silly darling age."

For all his four 1930s musicals, Novello wrote the book and music, Christopher Hassall
Christopher Hassall
Christopher Vernon Hassall was an English actor, dramatist, librettist, lyricist and poet, who found his greatest fame in a memorable musical partnership with the actor and composer Ivor Novello after working together in the same touring company...

 wrote the lyrics, and the orchestrations were by Charles Prentice. Glamorous Night starred Novello and Mary Ellis
Mary Ellis
Mary Ellis was a long-lived star of the British stage best known for her roles in the genre of musical theatre. After appearing with the Metropolitan Opera beginning in 1918, later appearing opposite Enrico Caruso, she acted on Broadway, creating the title role in Rose Marie...

, with a cast including Zena Dare
Zena Dare
Zena Dare was an English singer and actress who was famous for her performances in Edwardian musical comedy and other musical theatre and comedic plays in the first half of the 20th century, and for her role as Mrs...

, Olive Gilbert
Olive Gilbert
Olive Sarah Gilbert was an operatic singer and actress, who performed in many of Ivor Novello's musicals.-Biography:Gilbert was born in Carmarthen, Wales....

 and Elizabeth Welch, and ran from 2 May 1935 to 18 July 1936, at Drury Lane and then the London Coliseum. Careless Rapture ran from 11 September 1936 for 296 performances, with Novello, Dorothy Dickson
Dorothy Dickson
Dorothy Dickson , was an American-born, London-based theater actress and singer.-Biography:Dickson is known mostly for her rendition of the Jerome Kern song "Look for the Silver Lining". She was also a member of the Ziegfeld Follies and made many appearances in New York and abroad...

 and Zena Dare in the leading roles. Crest of the Wave
Crest of the Wave (musical)
Crest of the Wave is a musical with book and music by Ivor Novello and lyrics by Christopher Hassall.It premiered at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in London, on 1 September 1937, starring Novello as both hero and villain, Dorothy Dickson, Olive Gilbert, Walter Crisham and Edgar Elmes...

starred Novello, Dickson and Gilbert, and ran from 1 September 1937 for 203 performances. The last of Novello's pre-war musicals was The Dancing Years
The Dancing Years
The Dancing Years is a musical with book and music by Ivor Novello and lyrics by Christopher Hassall. The piece is one of Novello's most popular musicals...

, which starred Novello, Ellis and Gilbert, opened at Drury Lane, closed on the outbreak of the Second World War, and re-opened at the Adelphi Theatre
Adelphi Theatre
The Adelphi Theatre is a 1500-seat West End theatre, located on the Strand in the City of Westminster. The present building is the fourth on the site. The theatre has specialised in comedy and musical theatre, and today it is a receiving house for a variety of productions, including many musicals...

, running for a combined total of 696 performances, closing on 8 July 1944. This show was the closest Novello came to fulfilling his mother's early ambitions for him to write operas; he played an Austrian composer-conductor at the Wiener Hofoper
Vienna State Opera
The Vienna State Opera is an opera house – and opera company – with a history dating back to the mid-19th century. It is located in the centre of Vienna, Austria. It was originally called the Vienna Court Opera . In 1920, with the replacement of the Habsburg Monarchy by the First Austrian...


Second World War and last years

Novello presented only two new shows during the war. Arc de Triomphe (1943), a musical vehicle for Mary Ellis, was only a modest success, but Perchance to Dream
Perchance to Dream (musical)
Perchance to Dream is a musical romance with book, lyrics and music by Ivor Novello. It was the only musical for which Novello wrote lyrics. The title is a quotation from William Shakespeare's play Hamlet...

(1945) was immensely successful, running for 1,022 performances. In between the two shows, Novello had been in serious legal trouble and served four weeks in prison for misuse of petrol
Gasoline , or petrol , is a toxic, translucent, petroleum-derived liquid that is primarily used as a fuel in internal combustion engines. It consists mostly of organic compounds obtained by the fractional distillation of petroleum, enhanced with a variety of additives. Some gasolines also contain...

 coupons, a serious offence in wartime Britain. An admiring fan had stolen the coupons from her employer, but the court found that Novello was also culpable. The prison term, though short, came as a severe shock to Novello, both mentally and physically, and had serious lasting effects. Not everybody was supportive; Coward's sympathy was limited: "He's been fighting like a steer to keep going as before the war and hasn't done a thing for the general effort", but when Novello returned to The Dancing Years after his release, he received "a rapturous ovation" on his first entrance.

Novello's last full-scale production in this style, King's Rhapsody
King's Rhapsody
King's Rhapsody is a musical with book and music by Ivor Novello and lyrics by Christopher Hassall.The musical was first produced at the Palace Theatre, London, on 15 September 1949 and ran for 841 performances, surviving its author, who died in 1951...

(1949), was, in Webb's words, "a selfconsciously romantic counter-blast to the modern musical: crown princes, ballrooms, royal yachts, beautiful princesses and a full-scale coronation". After the rigours of war, this escapist entertainment had strong box-office appeal, and ran for 841 performances. The show starred Novello and the cast included Phyllis Dare
Phyllis Dare
Phyllis Dare born Phyllis Constance Haddie Dones was an English singer and actress who was famous for her performances in Edwardian musical comedy and other musical theatre in the first half of the 20th century....

, Zena Dare, Olive Gilbert and Bobbie Andrews. It was still running, at the Palace Theatre
Palace Theatre, London
The Palace Theatre is a West End theatre in the City of Westminster in London. It is an imposing red-brick building that dominates the west side of Cambridge Circus and is located near the intersection of Shaftesbury Avenue and Charing Cross Road...

, when Novello's last show opened. This was Gay's the Word (1951). Novello had written no role for himself; the show starred the comedy actress Cicely Courtneidge
Cicely Courtneidge
Dame Esmerelda Cicely Courtneidge DBE was an English actress and comedienne. The daughter of the producer Robert Courtneidge, she was appearing in his productions in the West End, by the age of 16, and was quickly promoted from minor to major roles in his Edwardian musical comedies.After the...

 and was a departure from his established pattern, balancing the contrasting styles of European operetta and post-war American musicals. The Times commented that the show "cheerfully parodied the very Ruritanian
Ruritania is a fictional country in central Europe which forms the setting for three books by Anthony Hope: The Prisoner of Zenda , The Heart of Princess Osra , and Rupert of Hentzau...

 romances to which he owed his most triumphant successes."

Novello died suddenly from a coronary thrombosis
Coronary thrombosis
Coronary thrombosis is a form of thrombosis affecting the coronary circulation. It is associated with stenosis subsequent to clotting. The condition is considered as a type of ischaemic heart disease.It can lead to a myocardial infarction...

 at the age of 58, a few hours after completing a performance in the run of King's Rhapsody. He was cremated at the Golders Green Crematorium
Golders Green Crematorium
Golders Green Crematorium and Mausoleum was the first crematorium to be opened in London, and one of the oldest crematoria in Britain. The land for the crematorium was purchased in 1900, costing £6,000, and was opened in 1902 by Sir Henry Thompson....

, and his ashes are buried beneath a lilac
Syringa is a genus of about 20–25 species of flowering woody plants in the olive family , native to woodland and scrub from southeastern Europe to eastern Asia, and widely and commonly cultivated in temperate areas elsewhere....

 bush and marked with a plaque that reads "Ivor Novello 6th March 1951 'Till you are home once more'." Only a few weeks before Novello's death, Coward had written of him: "Theatre – good, bad and indifferent – is the love of his life. For him, other human endeavours are mere shadows. … The reward of his work lies in the indisputable fact that whenever and wherever he appears the vast majority of the British public flock to see him." Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians writes of Novello that he was "until the advent of Andrew Lloyd Webber
Andrew Lloyd Webber
Andrew Lloyd Webber, Baron Lloyd-Webber is an English composer of musical theatre.Lloyd Webber has achieved great popular success in musical theatre. Several of his musicals have run for more than a decade both in the West End and on Broadway. He has composed 13 musicals, a song cycle, a set of...

, the 20th-century's most consistently successful composer of British musicals."


The Ivor Novello Awards
Ivor Novello Awards
The Ivor Novello Awards, named after the Cardiff born entertainer Ivor Novello, are awards for songwriting and composing. They are presented annually in London by the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors and were first introduced in 1955.Nicknamed The Ivors, the awards take place...

 for songwriting, established in 1955 in Novello's memory, are awarded each year by the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors
British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors
British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors was founded in 1947.It represents its members within the industry, to the government and to the European Commission....

 (BASCA) to British songwriters and composers as well as to an outstanding international music writer. A scholarship in memory of Novello was established at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art is a drama school located in London, United Kingdom. It is generally regarded as one of the most renowned drama schools in the world, and is one of the oldest drama schools in the United Kingdom, having been founded in 1904.RADA is an affiliate school of the...

, and in 1952 a bronze bust of him by Clemence Dane
Clemence Dane
Clemence Dane was the pseudonym of Winifred Ashton , an English novelist and playwright.-Life and career:...

 was unveiled at Drury Lane. In St. Paul's, Covent Garden, known as the actors' church, a panel was installed to commemorate Novello, and in 1972, to mark the 21st anniversary of his death, a memorial stone was unveiled in St. Paul's Cathedral.

In 1993, the centenary of Novello's birth was marked by several celebratory shows around the UK, including one at the Players Theatre in London. In 2005, the Strand Theatre
Novello Theatre
The Novello Theatre is a West End theatre on Aldwych, in the City of Westminster.-History:The theatre was built as one of a pair with the Aldwych Theatre on either side of the Waldorf Hotel, both being designed by W. G. R. Sprague. The theatre opened as the Waldorf Theatre on 22 May 1905, and was...

, above which Novello lived for many years, was renamed the Novello Theatre. On 27 June 2009, a statue of Novello was unveiled outside the Wales Millennium Centre
Wales Millennium Centre
Wales Millennium Centre is an arts centre located in the Cardiff Bay area of Cardiff, Wales. The site covers a total area of . Phase 1 of the building was opened during the weekend of the 26–28 November 2004 and phase 2 opened on 22 January 2009 with an inaugural concert...

 in Cardiff Bay
Cardiff Bay
Cardiff Bay is the area created by the Cardiff Barrage in South Cardiff, the capital of Wales. The regeneration of Cardiff Bay is now widely regarded as one of the most successful regeneration projects in the United Kingdom. The Bay is supplied by two rivers to form a freshwater lake round the...

. Plaques detailing some of his best-known songs are fitted to the pedestal, along with a dedication to Novello. Novello's memory is promoted by The Ivor Novello Appreciation Bureau
The Ivor Novello Appreciation Bureau
The Ivor Novello Appreciation Bureau is a voluntary organisation that was formed in Quedgeley, Gloucester, to foster interest in and preserve the memory of the legendary Welsh composer and actor Ivor Novello...

, which holds annual events around Britain, including an annual pilgrimage to Redroofs
Redroofs Theatre School
Redroofs Theatre School is an independent theatre training school in Maidenhead, Berkshire, England.The school was established in 1947 in London and moved to Littlewick Green in 1964 into a house that was once the home of Ivor Novello. The school currently has two bases in Maidenhead, and two...

 each June. Redroofs was sold after Novello's death and is now a theatre training school.

Novello was portrayed in Robert Altman
Robert Altman
Robert Bernard Altman was an American film director and screenwriter known for making films that are highly naturalistic, but with a stylized perspective. In 2006, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognized his body of work with an Academy Honorary Award.His films MASH , McCabe and...

's 2001
2001 in film
The year 2001 in film involved some significant events, including the first of the Harry Potter series and also the first of The Lord of the Rings trilogy...

 film, Gosford Park
Gosford Park
Gosford Park is a 2001 British-American mystery comedy-drama film directed by Robert Altman and written by Julian Fellowes. The film stars an ensemble cast, which includes Helen Mirren, Maggie Smith, Eileen Atkins, Alan Bates, and Michael Gambon...

, by Jeremy Northam
Jeremy Northam
Jeremy Philip Northam is an English actor. He is best known for his roles as Ivor Novello in the 2001 film Gosford Park, as Dean Martin in the 2002 television movie Martin and Lewis, and as Thomas More on the Showtime series The Tudors...

, and several of his songs were used for the film's soundtrack, including "Waltz of My Heart", "And Her Mother Came Too", "I Can Give You the Starlight", "What a Duke Should Be", "Why Isn't It You?" and "The Land of Might-Have-Been".


Among Novello's well known songs are, "Keep the home fires burning
Keep the Home Fires Burning (1915 song)
Keep the Home-Fires Burning is a British patriotic First World War song composed in 1914 by Ivor Novello with words by Lena Gilbert Ford ....

"; "Fold your wings"; "Shine through my dreams"; "Rose of England
Rose of England
"Rose of England" is a patriotic song written by Welsh composer Ivor Novello in 1937 for his musical 'Crest of the Wave'. Contrary to some reports, it was not popularised by Vera Lynn during the war years. The only recording which she made of the song was on the long-playing album 'More Hits of the...

"; "I can give you the starlight"; "And her mother came too"; "My dearest dear"; "The land of might-have-been"; "When I curtsied to the King"; "We'll gather lilacs"; "Someday my heart will awake"; "Yesterday"; "Waltz of my heart"; "Why isn't it you"; "My life belongs to you"; "Fly home little heart"; "Take your girl"; and "Primrose".

In Grove's Dictionary, Webb writes that although Novello's oeuvre is generally thought of as "romantic" and "Ruritanian", his music "was far more varied than his current reputation suggests." Webb contends that such romantic hits as "Someday my heart will awake" were balanced by "rousing operetta choruses ... and jazz age numbers" while "'Rose of England' is a stately patriotic piece that stands comparison with Elgar
Edward Elgar
Sir Edward William Elgar, 1st Baronet OM, GCVO was an English composer, many of whose works have entered the British and international classical concert repertoire. Among his best-known compositions are orchestral works including the Enigma Variations, the Pomp and Circumstance Marches, concertos...

 or Walton
William Walton
Sir William Turner Walton OM was an English composer. During a sixty-year career, he wrote music in several classical genres and styles, from film scores to opera...



  • The Call of the Blood (L'Appel du Sang) – 1920
  • Miarka: The Daughter of the Bear (Miarka, Fille de L'Ourse) – 1920
  • Carnival
    Carnival (1921 film)
    Carnival is a 1921 British drama film directed by Harley Knoles and starring Matheson Lang, Ivor Novello and Hilda Bayley. During a production of Shakespeare's Othello in Venice an Italian actor suspects his wife of having an affair and plans to murder her on stage. It was based on a stage play of...

    – 1922
  • The Bohemian Girl
    The Bohemian Girl (1922 film)
    The Bohemian Girl is a 1922 British romance film directed by Harley Knoles and starring Gladys Cooper, Ivor Novello and C. Aubrey Smith. It was inspired by the opera The Bohemian Girl by Michael William Balfe and Alfred Bunn which was in turn based on a novel by Cervantes.-Cast:* Gladys Cooper -...

    – 1922
  • The Man Without Desire
    The Man Without Desire
    The Man Without Desire is a 1923 British silent film fantasy drama, directed by Adrian Brunel and starring Ivor Novello, who also co-produced the film along with Miles Mander. The film was Brunel's feature-length directorial debut and has been described as "one of the stranger films to emerge from...

    – 1923
  • The White Rose
    The White Rose (1923 film)
    The White Rose is a silent D. W. Griffith production from 1923. The film was written, produced and directed by Griffith, and starring Mae Marsh, Ivor Novello, Carol Dempster, and Neil Hamilton....

    – 1923
  • Bonnie Prince Charlie
    Bonnie Prince Charlie (1923 film)
    Bonnie Prince Charlie is a 1923 British silent historical film directed by Charles Calvert.-Cast:*Ivor Novello as Prince Charles Stuart*Gladys Cooper as Flora MacDonald*A.B...

    – 1923
  • The Rat – 1925
  • The Triumph of the Rat
    The Triumph of the Rat
    The Triumph of the Rat is a 1926 British silent film drama, directed by Graham Cutts for Gainsborough Pictures and starring Ivor Novello, Isabel Jeans and Nina Vanna.-Background:...

    – 1926
  • The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog
    The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog
    The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog is a silent film directed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1926 and released on 14 February 1927 in London and on 10 June 1928 in New York City. The film, based on a story by Marie Belloc Lowndes and a play Who Is He? co-written by Belloc Lowndes, concerns the hunt for a...

    – 1927
  • Downhill
    Downhill (film)
    Downhill is a 1927 silent film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and based on the play Down Hill. It is Hitchcock's fifth film as director.-Plot:...

    – 1927
  • The Vortex
    The Vortex (film)
    The Vortex is a 1928 British drama film directed by Adrian Brunel and starring Ivor Novello, Willette Kershaw and Frances Doble. It was an adaptation of the Noel Coward play The Vortex and was made by Gainsborough Studios.-Cast:...

    – 1928

  • The Constant Nymph
    The Constant Nymph (1928 film)
    The Constant Nymph is a 1928 British silent film drama, directed by Adrian Brunel and starring Ivor Novello and Mabel Poulton. This was the first film adaptation of the 1924 best-selling and controversial novel of the same name by Margaret Kennedy...

    – 1928
  • The Gallant Hussar
    The Gallant Hussar
    The Gallant Hussar is a 1928 German-British historical drama film directed by Géza von Bolváry and starring Ivor Novello, Evelyn Holt and Paul Hörbiger...

    – 1928
  • A South Sea Bubble
    A South Sea Bubble
    A South Sea Bubble is a 1928 British comedy film directed by T. Hayes Hunter and starring Ivor Novello, Benita Hume and Alma Taylor. A group of adventurers head to the Pacific Ocean to hunt for buried treasure.-Cast:* Ivor Novello ... Vernon Winslow...

    – 1928
  • The Return of the Rat
    The Return of the Rat
    The Return of the Rat is a 1929 British silent film drama, directed by Graham Cutts for Gainsborough Pictures and starring Ivor Novello, Isabel Jeans and Mabel Poulton.-Background:...

    – 1929
  • Symphony in Two Flats
    Symphony in Two Flats
    Symphony in Two Flats is a 1930 British drama film directed by Gareth Gundrey and starring Ivor Novello, Benita Hume, Jacqueline Logan and Cyril Ritchard. It was an adaptation of a play written by Novello...

    – 1930
  • Once a Lady
    Once A Lady
    Once A Lady is a 1931 sound feature film produced and distributed by Paramount Pictures. It was directed by Guthrie McClintic and starred Ruth Chatterton. It is a remake of a Pola Negri silent film Three Sinners from 1928...

    – 1931
  • The Phantom Fiend – 1932
  • The Lodger
    The Lodger (1932 film)
    The Lodger is a British thriller film directed by Maurice Elvey and starring Ivor Novello, Elizabeth Allan and Jack Hawkins. It is based on the novel The Lodger by Marie Belloc Lowndes, also filmed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1927, by John Brahm in 1944, as Man in the Attic directed by Hugo Fregonese,...

    – 1932
  • Tarzan the Ape Man – 1932 (dialogue only)
  • I Lived with You
    I Lived with You
    I Lived with You is a 1933 British romantic comedy film directed by Maurice Elvey and starring Ivor Novello, Ursula Jeans and Ida Lupino. It is based on the play I Lived With You by Novello.-Cast:* Ivor Novello - Prince Felix Lenieff...

    – 1933
  • Sleeping Car
    Sleeping Car (film)
    Sleeping Car is a 1933 British comedy film directed by Anatole Litvak and starring Madeleine Carroll, Ivor Novello Stanley Holloway and Laddie Cliff.-Cast:* Madeleine Carroll - Anne* Ivor Novello - Gaston* Laddie Cliff - Pierre* Kay Hammond - Simone...

    – 1933
  • Autumn Crocus
    Autumn Crocus (film)
    Autumn Crocus is a 1934 British romance film directed by Basil Dean and starring Ivor Novello, Fay Compton and Muriel Aked. A teacher falls in love with the married owner of the guest house in which she is staying during a holiday to Austria...

    – 1934

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.