Born on 15th of January 1893
Died in London
Died on 6th of March 1951
Quotes from Ivor Novello
'Things which do not require ef'... More
Novello is one of those artists who are hard to categorize: he wrote popular songs; he composed what are in effect operettas; he appeared on stage in dramas as well as musical pieces; and he was for a time a successful film actor on both sides of the Atlantic.
Born David Ivor Davies in Cardiff, on January 15 1893, Novello as a young boy was a successful singer, eventually studying at Oxford’s Magdalen College School where he sang in the choir.
Two crashes on his first two solo flights in 1916 saw the Royal Naval Air Service ground Sub-lieutenant David Davies, but the previous year he made a greater contribution to the war effort with his most famous song, Keep the Home Fires Burning. In 1917 his show Theodore & Co was a hit, his first of many including The Dancing Years, Gay’s the Word, and Perchance to Dream.
As an actor (known as Novello, one of his mother’s names, since 1918 on stage and officially from 1927) he starred in two silents by Hitchcock, Downhill and The Lodger, and then in America he went on to star in many more, his beautiful face being his acting fortune, though he was a noted stage actor more than a screen star.
A homosexual in the days when such acts were still illegal, Novello was the partner of the actor Bobbie Andrews for many years; he also had an affair with Siegfried Sassoon, and – although it was only according to Somerset Maugham – may have had the briefest of flings with Churchill when young – Novello for a time had the entrée to the best and most sophisticated house parties in the land.
A short spell in prison during WWII for misusing petrol coupons - obtained for him by a fan -broke much of Novello’s spirit, and his style of show did not suit London’s needs after WWII as well as it once had, though he remained in demand, and he was a relatively wealthy man through the success of his stage shows and royalties from his songs.
Above all Novello (in whose honour Britain’s annual song-writing competition is named) will be remembered for his songs, after Home Fires the most celebrated being We’ll Gather Lilacs. Novello suffered a coronary thrombosis with little or no warning, dying in London on March 6 1951.
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