Noel Coward – Dad’s Renaissance

Any astrological chart is a sublime and magnificent work of art. To the uninitiated they may all look the same, but then for many people the idea of trawling round the Tate Modern would be the most boring way to spend an afternoon.

Every single chart is as unique as the lives of the people born with it, and the interplay of the beautiful symbols paints an exquisite picture of themes that will be played out in those lives.

There are some charts however, that look so extraordinary that they have a compelling attraction of a different level of magnitude. And in most cases the personalities that carry them display the same powerful attraction.

This is particularly the case in the chart of English playwright, composer, director, actor and singer, Noel Coward.

Noel Coward

Coward has seven planets bunched closely together, six of which make up a stellium based around Sagittarius and five of these are in direct opposition to the three remaining planets in Gemini.

Sagittarius is an extrovert sign, known for its vision, continually firing its arrows of desire in all directions. It paints the broader picture in life with wide, confident, sweeping brush strokes. There is always an openness and directness about this sign with a tendency to tell it like it is.

Gemini is the great communicator through speech and writing, its subjects are constantly on the move always wishing to taste and compare as many different experiences in life as possible.

Coward has the Sun in Sagittarius and the Moon in Gemini but his chart is so condensed into these two signs that it effectively has seven opposition aspects.

The opposition is always a challenge, people with these aspects will invariably feel stretched by the demands of  the planets opposing pulls and will be forced to generate a great deal of energy throughout their life to express the challenges that they feel. Whatever direction they go in, they will do so with tremendous energy and prolific output.

Another extraordinary thing about this chart is that the house positions reinforce the dominance of those two signs.

Four of Coward’s planets including the Sun are in the 3rd house ( Gemini is the 3rd sign ) of communication. That Coward’s vision was essentially artistic comes from his Sun’s closest aspect, the opposition to Neptune in the 9th house, and that he expressed it primarily as a writer is a given with all that Gemini, 3rd house focus.

It’s hardly surprising then that Noel Coward achieved enduring success as a playwright, publishing more than 50 plays from his teens onwards. He composed hundreds of songs, in addition to well over a dozen musical theatre works, poetry, several volumes of short stories, the novel ” Pomp and Circumstance “, and a three-volume autobiography. Coward’s stage and film acting and directing career spanned six decades, during which he starred in many of his own works.

He was also widely known for his wit, flamboyance, and what Time magazine called “a sense of personal style, a combination of cheek and chic, pose and poise”.

Coward’s Moon was conjunct Pluto and opposite Uranus, a sure sign of an extremely unconventional emotional life. Coward did not publicly acknowledge his homosexuality, but it was discussed candidly after his death by biographers including Graham Payn, his long-time partner, and in his own diaries and letters, published posthumously.

But the Moon’s aspects to these two planets meant that his writing would be outrageously controversial as well.

In 1924, Coward achieved his first great critical and financial success as a playwright with ” The Vortex “. The story is about a nymphomaniac socialite and her cocaine-addicted son and was considered extremely shocking in its day.  The following year he premiered ” Fallen Angels “, about two middle-aged women slowly getting drunk while awaiting the arrival of their mutual lover. ” Hay Fever “, the first of Coward’s plays to gain an enduring place in the mainstream theatrical repertoire, was a comedy about four egocentric members of an artistic family who casually invite acquaintances to their country house for the weekend and bemuse and enrage each other’s guests.

By 1929 he was one of the world’s highest-earning writers, and he thrived during the Great Depression, writing a succession of popular hits, including the operetta ” Bitter Sweet “, ” Private Lives ” and ” Design for Living “, with its theme of bisexuality and a ménage à trois,

Between 1929 and 1936 Coward recorded many of his best-known songs including  “I’ll See You Again”, “Mad Dogs and Englishmen”  and “Mrs Worthington”.

For most people the 2nd World War inevitably brought their careers to a halt. Noel Coward continued to work during the post war years but came nowhere near the successes of the previous decades.

But an extraordinary comeback in the 1960s revived Coward’s popularity and critical reputation. Coward’s work fitted so succinctly with the cultural rebellion of the 1960s and his reinvention was so exceptional, that it needs some explanation in more general terms.

It has often been noted that cultural trends are mainly defined by the collective experience of the young generation of the time.The aspects of the slower moving planets to each other have an important influence on whole generations of people.

Coward was born in December 1899 just at the very beginning of a Uranus / Pluto opposition which covered the period 1900 – 02.

It’s important to note that most of the people born with this aspect would gave been too young to fight in the First World War, and even if they had seen service, it would have come right at the tail end of it. In 1918, Coward was conscripted into the Artists Rifles but was assessed as unfit for active service because of a tubercular tendency, and he was discharged on health grounds after nine months.

It’s interesting to contrast this with the group before born between 1896 – 7 who had an extremely tough Saturn / Uranus conjunction in Scorpio. These unfortunate souls would have been immediately conscripted and sent to the trenches to fight and very probably die in the most stupid and pointless war in the history of mankind.

The war itself was caused by a powerful and explosive conjunction of Saturn and Pluto that continued until the end of 1915. Saturn then moved on to conjunct Neptune in 1917, and these two transits sealed the tragic fate of many of the generation born with the planet’s conjunction to Uranus.

A generation of people born with the 1900 – 02 Uranus / Pluto opposition would undoubtedly be very rebellious and non conformist and as they became young adults in the post war 1920s, this may help to explain why this period oversaw a lot of political and cultural changes.

The standard historian’s explanation for this was that it was caused by the disillusionment of soldiers returning from the war, sickened by the failings of the old order. This may well have been a contributing factor, but the Uranus / Pluto generation born at the turn of the century would have had something to do with it.

There are some people who seem to naturally fit in with the Zeitgeist, seemingly able to speak for their whole generation. These would be people with the Sun or Moon in close aspect to the slower moving planets of the time. This seems to be particularly the case with the Moon as it seems to give an instinctive feel for what is required at the time.

So Noel Coward with his Moon in conjunction with Pluto and opposite Uranus was perfectly placed to capture the attitude of the time, which was one of artistic and cultural rebellion against the suppressive Victorian morality that preceeded the 1st World War.

The 1920s is seen as a decade of  non conformity and change which ended with the Wall St Crash and the global Depression that followed in the 1930s.

Many people have compared the 1920s with the 1960s, and again the historians narrative for the cultural rebellion of the latter decade is tied up with the fact that the young people driving these changes were born after the 2nd World War and so their life experience was not weighed down by this, on the contrary it was created by the extremely strong desire of their parents generation to create something more stable and affluent in the aftermath of the destruction they had painfully witnessed.

Astrology however, would point to the powerful Uranus / Pluto conjunction of 1964 to 67 , and the impact of these two most revolutionary planets.

No one would have expected the rebellious Sixties to be a launchpad for the resurrection of Noel Coward’s career, however unless they had noted that the Uranus / Pluto conjunction occurred in mid Virgo.

Throughout the 60s, Pluto was creating a T Square to all of Coward’s Sagittarius / Gemini planets. So the man who so caught the Zeitgeist of the Roaring Twenties found himself back very much in vogue just when most people would be cashing in their pensions.

During the 1960s Coward continued to write musicals and plays and ” Sail Away ” (1961), was his most successful post-war musical. He directed the successful 1964 Broadway musical adptation of Blithe Spirit, called High Spirits and his comic novel, Pomp and Circumstance (1960) met with more critical success.

Stage success came with Suite in Three Keys (1966) which he wrote as his swan song as a stage actor.

In the mid-1960s  successful productions of his 1920s and 1930s plays, and new revues celebrating his music, including Oh, Coward! on Broadway and Cowardy Custard in London, revived Coward’s popularity and critical reputation.  It began with a hit 1963 revival of Private Lives. Invited to direct Hay Fever with Edith Evans at the National Theatre, he wrote in 1964, “I am thrilled and flattered and frankly a little flabbergasted that the National Theatre should have had the curious perceptiveness to choose a very early play of mine and to give it a cast that could play the Albanian telephone directory.”

Coward’s image had changed by the 1960s, he was no longer seen as the smooth 1930s sophisticate, but as the doyen of the theatre. As The New Statesman wrote in 1964, “Who would have thought the landmarks of the Sixties would include the emergence of Noël Coward as the grand old man of British drama? ”

Coward won new popularity in several notable films late in his career but for everyone of Capricorn Research’s generation the crowning glory came with his role as ‘Mr. Bridger’ in The Italian Job. 

The character of Bridger seemed to be a major theme in Coward’s chart revealing itself. The chart has the Sun in Sagittarius conjunct Saturn in the 3rd house and opposite Neptune in Gemini in the 9th. Bridger was the head of a huge criminal empire ( Sun in Sagittarius ), but was old and in prison ( conjunct Saturn ). Bridger backs a plan to make the most audacious robbery ( opposite Neptune ) carried out by Michael Caine’s Charlie Croker ( a Gemini character if ever there was one ) from a bank in the centre of Turin ( in the 9th house ) armed only with 3 Minis.

The Italian Job came out in 1969 as the transiting Pluto was square Coward’s Sun, Saturn and Neptune.

Pluto’s transit by square aspect to the last planet in his stellium, Mars coincided with his death in 1973.

The Italian job was both the peak and the final act of what Noel Coward himself called “Dad’s Renaissance”.

Even Pluto, the master of reinvention would be hard pressed to beat that one.


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