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NYC | Designs for Living: Noël Coward at Home with Patrick Monahan

May 20 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

Designs for Living: Noël Coward at Home

Monday, May 20 | 6:00 p.m. (ET) Reception following
The General Society Library, 20 W. 44th Street, NYC (Bet. 5th and 6th)

Noël Coward (1899-1973) was famously called “The Master” by Lord Louis Mountbatten for his talents as an actor, writer, composer, singer, director, producer, and painter. However, Coward was also an exceptional house designer who created elegant environments for himself and in which to entertain his celebrity friends: from the English countryside, to the Swiss Alps, and the hills of Jamaica. As a rising playwright of Drawing Room Comedies in the 1930s, he engaged society decorator Syrie Maugham—famous for her all-white rooms—to design airy, art-filled spaces which were fitting for his theatrical family, such as Gertrude Lawrence and Ivor Novello.

Coward’s 1932 comedy play Design for Living, starring himself, Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, faithfully captures this elegant avant-garde look in its stage surroundings. At the same time, Coward owned a half-timbered Tudor manor house in Kent, called Goldenhurst Farm, where he entertained guests with legendary weekend parties far from the prying eye of the London press. Coward emerged from World War II as well-known English institution and carried his brand as a British bon viveur around the world. In London, he stayed in a suite at the Savoy Hotel, directing Elaine Stritch in his musical comedy Sail Away, playing in the downstairs theater.

In 1956, he moved his residency from England and built in Switzerland, a chalet, named Chalet Coward, at Les Avants, near Montreux. There he hosted the cream of Hollywood, Broadway, and the West End who regularly visited—including Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren, and Peter O’Toole.

Finally, Coward built his favorite and last home—two villas in Jamaica: a large guest house, called Blue Harbor where he entertained friends like the Queen Mother, as well as a small cottage, called Firefly, just for himself. On the 125th anniversary of Noël Coward’s birth, join Country Life and Vanity Fair contributor Patrick Monahan as he explores and illustrated Coward’s life at home. He will explain how the places in which Coward chose to live influenced his most beloved plays and songs. He will illustrate some of Coward’s many houses and tell stories from Coward’s life, many he heard directly from Coward’s friends, like Elaine Stritch.

Patrick Monahan, is a writer and independent art advisor, specializing in British paintings, drawings, and sculpture from the 18th century to the present. A native New Yorker, he is consulted by collectors and museums on both sides of the Atlantic, including the Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico. His written work appears in Country Life and Vanity Fair, as well as in the exhibition catalogue “Flaming June: the making of an icon,” Leighton House, London, 2016. He holds an MPhil from the University of Cambridge as well as a BA from the University of Chicago, both in art history. He lives and works in New York City, with regular visits to London.


May 20
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Event Category:


The General Society Library
20 W. 44th Street
New York City, 10036 United States
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NYC | Designs for Living: Noël Coward at Home with Patrick Monahan
$ 40.00