Noël Coward and the Sitwells : enmity, celebrity, popularity

Hammill, Faye (2015) Noël Coward and the Sitwells : enmity, celebrity, popularity. Journal of Modern Literature, 39 (1). pp. 129-148. ISSN 0022-281X (

[thumbnail of Hammill-JEL2015-noel-coward-and-the-sitwells-enmity-celebrity-popularity]
Text. Filename: Hammill_JEL2015_noel_coward_and_the_sitwells_enmity_celebrity_popularity.pdf
Accepted Author Manuscript

Download (341kB)| Preview


In 1923, the year of the first public performance of Edith Sitwell and William Walton's Façade, Noël Coward satirized the Sitwell siblings in his sketch "The Swiss Family Whittlebot." The result was an enduring feud between Coward and the Sitwells that shaped their celebrity personae and inflected responses to their work in the periodical press. They confronted each other across a class divide, and also across the perceived barrier between difficult modernism and accessible popular entertainment. Yet, in spite of these oppositional stances, certain convergences in their styles of writing and performance suggest a possible appeal to a shared audience. The interconnectedness of Coward's work with Edith Sitwell's, in particular, can be discerned on the level of literary style, influences, and parodic strategies.