Ivor Novello

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David Ivor Davies (15 January 1893 – 6 March 1951), better known as Ivor Novello, was a Welsh composer, singer and actor who became one of the most popular British entertainers of the early 20th century.

Contents

Biography

Novello was born at Llwyn-yr-Eos (Grove of the Nightingale), Cowbridge Road East, Cardiff, Wales, to Clara Novello Davies, a well-known singer and the teacher who founded the Welsh Ladies Choir, and David Davies, a tax collector. His adopted sister was Marie Novello. A blue plaque commemorating his birth can be seen on the side of the house. As a boy, Novello was a successful singer in the Welsh Eisteddfod.[1] He was educated at Magdalen College School in Oxford, where he sang in the choir. He legally changed his name to Ivor Novello in January 1927, although he was known by that name on stage from at least 1918.[2]

In 1916 Novello received a commission as a Sub-Lieutenant and trained as a pilot in the Royal Naval Air Service. He completed dual flying instruction but crash landed on his first solo. His second solo flight ended in a more serious crash, in which he injured his ankle. The Royal Navy grounded him, and he was posted to clerical duties for the duration of the war.[3]

Career

Novello first became known as a result of the song "Keep the Home Fires Burning", which he composed during the First World War. His 1917 show, Theodore & Co was a wartime hit, composed while Novello was in the Navy.[3] Novello wrote his musicals in the style of operetta and was one of the last major composers in this form. While he generally wrote his own librettos (being an experienced playwright), Christopher Hassall wrote the lyrics for most of his shows.

After the First World War, Novello pursued a film career into the 1930s. He starred in a trilogy of silent underworld-themed films beginning with The Rat (1925) and two silent films directed by Alfred Hitchcock, The Lodger and Downhill, both in 1927. Five years later, he starred in a sound remake of The Lodger and wrote the dialogue for Tarzan the Ape Man.

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