Private Lives

An Intimate Comedy in Three Acts

COWARD, Noel

INSCRIBED BY NOEL COWARD TO LAURENCE OLIVIER

COWARD, Noel Private Lives An Intimate Comedy in Three Acts

Heinemann, 1930.

First edition. Original blue cloth. Author's presentation copy to Laurence Olivier, inscribed on the front free endpaper: "For Larry from Noël, 1930". The part of Sybil is marked and annotated in pencil throughout, including stage directions and alternate readings, the hand certainly bearing a resemblance to Jill Esmond, who was cast as Sybil for the Broadway run of the play and was Olivier's first wife. Wanting spine, some wear and a few marks to boards, nibbling to one corner with concomitant minor damage to fore corner of a dozen leaves, touch of foxing to extremities.

An outstanding association copy of Laurence Olivier's breakthrough stage appearance, inscribed to him by Noel Coward, who cast him in the role and starred opposite him as the male lead for the original run of the play.
Following a succession of seven short-run plays in 1929, each a failure, Olivier was still looking for his big break, and it was Coward who came to the rescue by casting him as Victor Prynne in his new play Private Lives. The play proved to be hugely successful for both men; it led Arnold Bennett to hail Coward as "the Congreve of our day" and made him "one of the world's highest earning authors", while "during the Broadway run Olivier was spotted by a talent scout and whisked off to Hollywood" (ODNB).
An extraordinary dramatic provenance and association, presented to Olivier during the successful West End run of the play (Heinemann published the text one week after the opening at the Phoenix). It represents the change in fortunes of one of the theatrical titans of the 20th century, with Coward telling John Mills "that young man, unless something goes radically wrong, will before long be acknowledged as our greatest actor".

Stock ID: 37667

£3,000.00

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