Fascinating Noël Coward Quotes to Appreciate His Wisdom

Sir Noël Coward was born in December 1899 with a natural inclination toward entertaining people. As a young child, he would gather his family members as his audience and perform acts for their entertainment. Coward’s mother encouraged him to perform on stage, leading to a long career as a playwright, director, actor, composer, and singer.

His most notable works include Private Lives, Hay Fever, Present Laughter, and Design for Living. Coward has also performed songs such as I Went to a Marvellous Party, London Pride, and Mad Dogs and Englishmen. His work was influential during WWII when he worked with the Secret Service to influence Americans toward Britain.

Wise Quotes by Sir Noël Coward

1. “I love criticism just so long as it’s unqualified praise.” – Sir Noël Coward

2. “Consider the public. Never fear it nor despise it. Coax it, charm it, interest it, stimulate it, shock it now and then if you must, make it laugh, make it cry, but above all never, never, never bore the living hell out of it. “– Sir Noël Coward

3. “I will accept anything in the theatre . . . provided it amuses or moves me. But if it does neither, I want to go home.” – Sir Noël Coward

4. “It is discouraging how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit.” – Sir Noël Coward

5. “Thousands of people have talent. I might as well congratulate you for having eyes in your head. The one and only thing that counts is: Do you have staying power?” – Sir Noël Coward

6. “I don’t believe in astrology. The only stars I can blame for my failures are those that walk about the stage.” – Sir Noël Coward

7. “If you must have motivation, think of your paycheck on Friday.” – Sir Noël Coward

8. “I have a memory like an elephant. In fact, elephants often consult me.” – Sir Noël Coward

9. “Wit, ought to be a glorious treat like caviar; never spread it about like marmalade.” – Sir Noël Coward

10. “I’ve sometimes thought of marrying – and then I’ve thought again.” – Sir Noël Coward

11. “Television is for appearing on, not looking at.” – Sir Noël Coward

12. “Why do I drink Champagne for breakfast? Doesn’t everyone?” – Sir Noël Coward

Sir Noël Coward in an interview

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13. “Consider the public. Never fear it nor despise it. Coax it, charm it, interest it, stimulate it, shock it now and then if you must, make it laugh, make it cry, but above all never, never, never bore the living hell out of it.” – Sir Noël Coward

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14. “Work is much more fun than fun.” – Sir Noël Coward

15. “In the first act, you get the audience’s attention. Once you have it, they will repay you in the second. Play through the laughs if you have to. It will only make the audience believe there are so many of them that they missed a few.” – Sir Noël Coward

16. “To take a gloomy view of life is not part of my philosophy; to laugh at the idiocies of my fellow creatures is. However, at this particular moment I cannot find so much to laugh at as I would like.” – Sir Noël Coward

17. “Extraordinary how potent cheap music is.” – Sir Noël Coward

18. “Having to read footnotes resembles having to go downstairs to answer the door while in the midst of making love.” – Sir Noël Coward

19. “Mona Lisa looks as if she has just been sick, or is about to be.” – Sir Noël Coward

20. “How foolish to think that one can ever slam the door in the face of age. Much wiser to be polite and gracious and ask him to lunch in advance.” – Sir Noël Coward

21. “Wouldn’t it be dreadful to live in a country where they didn’t have tea?” – Sir Noël Coward

22. “It’s like this, dear boy, the one in front is blind and the kind one behind is pushing him.” – Sir Noël Coward

23. “But why, oh why, do the wrong people travel, when the right people stay at home?” – Sir Noël Coward

24. “I’m not a heavy drinker, I can sometimes go for hours without touching a drop.” – Sir Noël Coward

25. “I have always paid income tax. I object only when it reaches a stage when I am threatened with having nothing left for my old age – which is due to start next Tuesday or Wednesday.” – Sir Noël Coward

26. “Your motivation is your pay packet on Friday. Now get on with it.” – Sir Noël Coward

Sir Noël Coward plaque

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27. “Work hard, do the best you can, don’t ever lose faith in yourself and take no notice of what other people say about you.” – Sir Noël Coward

28. “I’ll go through life either first class or third, but never in second.” – Sir Noël Coward

29. “Familiarity breeds contempt, but without a little familiarity it’s impossible to breed anything. “– Sir Noël Coward

30. “A perfect martini should be made by filling a glass with gin then waving it in the general direction of Italy.” – Sir Noël Coward

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31. “It’s such a surprise for the Eastern eyes to see, that though the English are effete, they’re quite impervious to heat.” – Sir Noël Coward

32. “You will know you’re old when you cease to be amazed.” – Sir Noël Coward

33. “Just say the lines and don’t trip over the furniture.” – Sir Noël Coward

34. “My importance to the world is relatively small. On the other hand, my importance to myself is tremendous. I am all I have to work with, to play with, to suffer and to enjoy. It is not the eyes of others that I am wary of, but of my own. I do not intend to let myself down more than I can possibly help, and I find that the fewer illusions I have about myself or the world around me, the better company I am for myself.” – Sir Noël Coward

35. “Never trust a man with short legs. His brains are too near his bottom.” – Sir Noël Coward

36. “It is my considered opinion that the human race (soi disant) is cruel, idiotic, sentimental, predatory, ungrateful, ugly, conceited and egocentric to the last ditch and that the occasional discovery of an isolated exception is as deliciously surprising as finding a sudden Brazil nut in what you know to be five pounds of vanilla creams. These glorious moments, although not making life actually worth living, perhaps, at least make it pleasanter.” – Sir Noël Coward

37. “Criticism and Bolshevism have one thing in common. They both seek to pull down that which they could never build.” – Sir Noël Coward

38. “Conceit is an outward manifestation of inferiority.” – Sir Noël Coward

39. “Marriage is the aftermath of love.” – Sir Noël Coward

40. “If anyone had told me at that time, I was high up on the Nazi blacklist, I should have laughed.” – Sir Noël Coward

41. “People are wrong when they say opera is not what it used to be. It is what it used to be. That is what’s wrong with it.” – Sir Noël Coward

Sir Noël Coward sitting in his study

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42. “Grab it while you can — grab every scrap of happiness while you can.” – Sir Noël Coward

43. “I can’t sing, but I know how to, which is quite different.” – Sir Noël Coward

44. “Hollywood is a place where some people lie on the beach and look up at the stars, whereas other people lie on the stars and look down at the beach.” – Sir Noël Coward

45. “Trust your instincts. If you have no instincts, trust your impulses.” – Sir Noël Coward

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46. “The higher the building the lower the morals.” – Sir Noël Coward

47. “Never mind, dear, we’re all made the same, though some more than others.” – Sir Noël Coward

48. “Let’s drink to the spirit of gallantry and courage that made a strange Heaven out of unbelievable Hell, and let’s drink to the hope that one day this country of ours, which we love so much, will find dignity and greatness and peace again.” – Sir Noël Coward

49. “That strange feeling we had in the war. Have you found anything in your lives since to equal it in strength? A sort of splendid carelessness it was, holding us together.” – Sir Noël Coward

50. “I’ve over-educated myself in all the things I shouldn’t have known at all.” – Sir Noël Coward

51. “Put somebody you love in the audience in your mind and work for them.” – Sir Noël Coward

52. “I refuse to endure months of expensive humiliation only to be told that at the age of four I was in love with my rocking horse.” – Sir Noël Coward

Noël Coward: Mad Dogs and Englishmen

A slideshow tribute to the genius that is Noel Coward—the ultimate in style and sophistication.


We hope these Noël Coward quotes helped you see his drive towards writing flamboyant characters. Sir Noël Coward was the English playwright who could amuse his audience with controversial content without making them uncomfortable.

He used his wit and graceful style to write characters that come to life on stage. His government and fans have greatly appreciated his work as a playwright and as a British spy during WWII.

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Image Credits

Allan warren, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Allan warren, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Spudgun67, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Allan warren, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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