Ivor Novello

David Ivor Davies (January 15, 1893 – March 6, 1951), better known as Ivor Novello, was one of the most popular entertainers of the 20th century.

He was born at Llwyn-yr-Eos (Grove of Nightingales), Cowbridge Road East, Canton, Cardiff, Wales, to the well-known singer and teacher, Dame Clara Novello Davies, and David Davies, a tax collector.

He first became well known as a result of the song, Keep the Home Fires Burning, which he composed during World War I. After the war, he appeared on stage in the West End, in musical shows of his own devising, the best known being The Dancing Years (1939). He also went to Hollywood and appeared in numerous successful films, but the stage remained his first love and the medium for his major successes.

Novello wrote his musical shows in the style of operetta, and was one of the last major composers in this form. He generally composed his music to the librettos of Christopher Hassall.

During World War II, Novello was convicted of illegal use of rationed petrol (gasoline) and was briefly imprisoned. This downfall from his luxurious lifestyle completely broke his spirit, and he was never the same man after his release. However, he continued to appear on stage until the day before his sudden death from a coronary thrombosis on March 6, 1951, aged 58.

Novello was a homosexual, well known for some of his more glamorous gay affairs. For 35 years, he was the lover of the British actor Bobbie Andrews, and he had an affair with the British poet and writer Siegfried Sassoon. It was alleged by W. Somerset Maugham that Sir Winston Churchill confided in him that he had once been to bed with Novello.

The Ivor Novello Award is a prize awarded for songwriting, named for Ivor Novello, and awarded each year by the record industry to song writers and arrangers rather than the performing artistes.