Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)MS158
TitleMaterial relating to Lila Field's 'The Goldfish'
Extent11 items
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DescriptionCollection of ten part scripts for 'The Goldfish' by Lila Field. With advertising postcard relating to its performance by Miss Lila Field's Company in April 1911 at the Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, London.
Access ConditionsAccess to all registered researchers
Finding AidsA catalogue of this collection is available on the online archive catalogue. Click on the Finding Number to display the summary contents list of the catalogue and to view the full catalogue. A paper copy is also available in the Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections Department.
Access StatusOpen
Administrative HistoryThe children's play 'The Goldfish' was written and produced by Lila Field. It was in this play that Noël Coward made his professional debut, in January 1911, at the age of eleven. He played the part of Prince Mussel, the court jester of King Goldfish’s underwater kingdom. In his autobiography 'Present Indicative', Coward describes how he secured the part after his mother had answered an advertisement in the Daily Mirror for 'a talented boy of attractive appearance'. His salary was to be a guinea and a half a week and the family’s excitement was such that a letter was sent to his teacher, 'announcing that my school attendance would be even more convulsive than it had been hitherto, as I was now a professional actor'. His part, which did not appear until Act III, included both speech and song. The play’s rehearsal period was bedevilled and lengthened by many mothers taking their children out of the cast. It opened at the Little Theatre for a week of matinees and was revived twice, first at the Crystal Palace and later at the Royal Court. Coward was able to use the erratically programmed rehearsals as an excuse for truanting from school, spending his days at Waterloo or Clapham Junction watching trains. The typescript parts, with some manuscript additions, are nearly all annotated inside their front covers, ‘Kindly return to Miss Lila Field, Lyceum Club, 128 Piccadilly.’, and it seems probable that Coward used the one for Prince Mussel, since he was the only boy to play this role.

Information supplied by Christine Penney.
AcquisitionPurchased, March 2003
Archival NoteDescription prepared by Mark Eccleston, March 2017, in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997
Related MaterialArchive collections relating to Noël Coward, and held at the Cadbury Research Library, include:

Noël Coward Collection: papers, 1911-2000. Finding Number: COW;
Papers relating to Noël Coward: papers, [20th century]. Finding Number: MS69;
Material relating to Lila Field's 'The Goldfish': papers, 1911. Finding Number: MS158;
Correspondence sent to Claude Ray relating to Noël Coward: papers, [mid-20th century]. Finding Number: MS188;
Papers of Gladys Calthrop: correspondence, 1927-1979. Finding Number: MS201;
Noël Coward Theatre Programmes: programmes, 1913-1991. Finding Number: MS491;
Gladys Calthrop costume drawings: framed drawings, 1934. Finding Number: MS492;
Noël Coward Posters: posters, 1968-1986. Finding Number: MS497;
Noël Coward and Ivor Novello Cuttings: newspaper and magazine cuttings, 1943-1996. Finding Number: MS498;
Patricia Hollender Collection: correspondence, 1951-1978. Finding Number: MS500;
Play scripts relating to Noël Coward: scripts, [c 1911-c 1950]. Finding Number: MS501;
Images of Noël Coward: images, [1920s-1970s]. Finding Number: MS502;
Noël Coward's 'Present Laughter', typescript for radio adaptation: script, [1956]. Finding Number: MS788;
Photographs of Noël Coward and friends, [1920s-1930s]. Finding Number: MS987.