I’ve started reading The Letters of Noël Coward (edited by Barry Day). I have always thought Mr. Coward was the epitome of a particular style of wit; British, upper class (though he was not), urbane,…. and a little bitchy.
I knew Mr. Coward started his career in the theater as a child but I did not realize how young he was. He started at age 10. Throughout his life he credited some of his success as a performer to the skills he learned as a child actor.
As one would imagine, all was not ‘fun & games’; however. The book includes letters to his mother that are filled with homesickness. There is also a fairly mean-spirited verse about a woman who taught and managed other child-actors. At age 17 he wrote a series of verses on “Concert Types” which included the following:
THE CHILD PRODIGY
An infant prodigy of nine
Is shoved upon the stage in white.
She starts off in a dismal whine
About a Dark and Stormy night,
A burglar whose heart is true,
Despite his wicked looking face!
And what a little child can do
To save her Mama’s jewel case!
This may bring tears to every eye,
It does not set my heart on fire
I’d like to stand serenely by
And watch that Horrid child expire!