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Noël Coward: In His Own Words, Compiled by Barry Day

In his introduction to this slim volume, editor Barry Day tries to argue the case for Coward as a weighty thinker, deeper and more profoundly political than his lightning one-liners have led us to believe. Wit, Coward said, should be "a glorious treat like caviar", not "spread about like marmalade".

Nonetheless, it will be for his lavish spreading-about of witticisms that Coward is loved best, and this book preserves them deliciously, retaining all the pithy bits. Naturally, the best truisms remain true in any age, and there are many modern wannabes who should heed the advice: "Don't put your daughter on the stage, Mrs Worthington...

Admitting the fact/ That she's burning to act/ That isn't quite enough..."