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Sir No?l Peirce Coward (1899–1973) by Dorothy Wilding, 1930 ? Tom Hustler / National Portrait Gallery, London

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Coward, Sir No?l Peirce (1899–1973), playwright and composer, was born at Helmsdale, 5 Waldegrave Road, Teddington, Middlesex, on 16 December 1899, the second in the family of three sons (the eldest of whom died at the age of six) of Arthur Sabin Coward (1856–1937)...

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J. W. Ebsworth

revised by Nilanjana Banerji

Ebsworth, Joseph (1788–1868), playwright and musician, the elder son of Joseph and Isabella Ebsworth, was born at Islington, London, on 10 October 1788, and was in early life apprenticed to a watch-jeweller named Cornwall. He was a talented watch-mender and was later chosen to reconstruct the watch of the prince regent. Having a rich baritone voice, he joined the operatic company at ...

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Ellis, Vivian John Herman (1903–1996), composer and lyricist, was born on 29 October 1903 at 207 Goldhurst Terrace, Hampstead, London, the only son of Henry Herman Ellis (c.1868–1909), tailor, and his wife, Maud Alexandrina Isaacson (1870–1961). He inherited musical talent from his mother, a violin pupil of ...

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Gay, Noel [real name Reginald Moxon Armitage] (1898–1954), composer and lyricist, was born on 15 July 1898 at Park Terrace, Leeds Road, Outwood, Wakefield, the son of Harry Armitage, a colliery clerk, and his wife, Charlotte Elizabeth Moxon. Musically precocious, he won a scholarship to ...

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Noel Gay (1898–1954) by Howard Coster, 1932 ? National Portrait Gallery, London

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Graham, Colin (1931–2007), opera director and librettist, was born on 22 September 1931 at 17 Fourth Avenue, Hove, Sussex, the son of Frederick Eaton Graham-Bonnalie (1897–1979), physician and medical author, and his first wife, Alexandra Diana Vivian (Anore), née Finlay (1909–1988). His parents divorced while he was still young and both subsequently remarried. Educated at ...

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Grey, Clifford [real name Percival Davis] (1887–1941), lyricist, was born on 5 January 1887 at 106 St Luke's Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, the only child of George Davis, a whip manufacturer, and his wife, Emma Lowe. In 1899 Davis entered the Camp Hill Boys' School...

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Haym, Nicola Francesco (1678–1729), composer and librettist, born on 26 June 1678 at Rome, was conjecturally the eldest of three children of a German, Sebastiano Haym (d. before 1700), and his wife, Elena. Nicola was a professional violoncellist in 1694, a member of the ...

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Charles Jennens (1700/0101–1773) by Thomas Hudson, 1747 private collection

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Jennens, Charles (1700/01–1773), patron of the arts and librettist, was born probably at Gopsall Hall, Leicestershire, the son of Charles Jennens (bap. 1662, d. 1747), gentleman and JP, son of the Birmingham ironmaster Humphrey Jennens, and his second wife, Elizabeth Burdett (1667–1707/8)...

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Ewan MacColl (1915–1989) by Brian Shuel, 1962 [with Peggy Seeger] photograph Brian Shuel / Redferns

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MacColl, Ewan [formerly James Henry Miller] (1915–1989), songwriter, folk-singer, and playwright, was born James Henry Miller on 25 January 1915 at 4 Andrew Street, Broughton, Salford, Lancashire, the youngest and only surviving child in the family of three sons and one daughter (one of each sex was stillborn and one son died at the age of four) of ...

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Novello, Ivor [real name David Ivor Davies] (1893–1951), composer, actor, and playwright, was born on 15 January 1893 at Llywn yr Eos (Nightingales' Grove), 95 Cowbridge Road, Cardiff, the only son of David Davies (1852?–1931), a rent collector for Cardiff council, and his wife, ...

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Ivor Novello (1893–1951) by Paul Tanqueray, 1928 ? Estate of Paul Tanqueray; collection National Portrait Gallery, London

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R. C. K. Ensor

revised by Nilanjana Banerji

Parker, Louis Napoleon (1852–1944), musician and playwright, was born at Luc-sur-Mer in Calvados, France, on 21 October 1852, the only son of an American, Charles Albert Parker, and his wife, Elizabeth Moray, an Englishwoman. His grandfather, Isaac Parker (1768–1830), had been chief justice of the ...

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Porter, Andrew Brian (1928–2015), music critic and librettist, was born on 26 August 1928 in Cape Town, South Africa, one of the two children, along with his twin sister, Sheila May, of Andrew Ferdinand Porter (1902–1963), dentist, and his first wife, ...

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Ropes, Arthur Reed [pseud. Adrian Ross] (1859–1933), lyricist and journalist, was born at Lewisham, London, on 23 December 1859, the youngest son of William Hooper Ropes, a Russia merchant, and his wife, Ellen Harriet, daughter of J. Drinkrow Hall, of Scarborough. Although ...

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Rubens, Paul Alfred (1875–1917), musical comedy writer and songwriter, was born at 11 Dawson Place, Kensington, London, on 29 April 1875, the eldest son of Victor Rubens, a wealthy Berlin-born Jewish stockbroker, and his wife, Jenny, née Wallach. He was educated at ...