Introduction

This special web exhibition celebrates the life and work of one of the greatest playwrights of the 20th century--Sir Noël Coward. The New York Public Library has a large collection of material related to Noël Coward including copies of production scripts, manuscript letters and telegrams, oral histories by friends and colleagues, and videos of stage productions of later revivals of his work in the Theater on Film and Tape archive. Among the most striking items in our collection, though, are the photographs of original and revival productions of Coward’s plays and musicals in the photograph collections of the Billy Rose Theatre Division. Thanks to a generous gift from the Noël Coward Foundation, we have been able to digitize nearly every archival photograph of productions of Coward’s work produced during his lifetime, and have secured the rights to make most of these available for free in the web exhibition. Prominent Coward scholar, Barry Day, has supplied a short but insightful biography that serves to both introduce those new to Coward’s masterpieces to the man and his work and also to chronologically organize the collection. Enter the archive