Noël Coward, Rebecca West and the modernist scene

Faye Hammill

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Coward and West shared a long friendship, and often met each other at theatrical openings, on transatlantic liners, and at parties hosted by the 'international set'. Their wary negotiation with one another's celebrity and cultural value played out not only at these social events but also in print, through reviews, gossip columns, and memoirs. Using the relationship between Coward and West as a case study, this essay explores the social scene of modernism, with attention to the suggestion of theatricality in the word 'scene'. It takes up the notion of the 'modernist party' as, on the one hand, a kind of stage on which celebrities from different spheres performed together, and, on the other, a happening which, through reports in print, contributed to the forming of literary reputations and to the public fascination with modern style.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-369
Number of pages19
JournalModernist Cultures
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2016


  • modernist party
  • ocean liner
  • hostess
  • print culture
  • performance

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