Ivor Novello

Ivor Novello

Ivor Novello (David Davies), the son of the singer and music teacher, Clara Novello Davies, was born in Cardiff, Wales, on 15th January, 1893. After being educated at Magdalen College School, Oxford, he became an actor and songwriter. His first big hit was Keep the Home Fires Burning (1914), a song that was hugely popular during the First World War. Another hit was the novelty number, And Her Mother Came Too (1921).

Novello also made films and appeared in Bonnie Prince Charlie (1923) and The Lodger (1926). His first play, The Rat, was produced in 1924. Novello, who usually appeared in his own plays, also wrote Symphony in Two Flats (1930), The Truth Game (1934), Proscenium (1934), Glamorous Nights (1935), Careless Rapture (1936), Full House (1936), Crest of a Wave (1937), Comedienne (1938) and The Dancing Years (1939).

During the Second World War Novello was sent to prison for eight-weeks after he had fraudulently obtained petrol for his Rolls-Royce car. After he was released he wrote the musical Perchance To Dream. This included We'll Gather Lilacs, whose theme of lovers parting and hoping to meet again, made it one of the most popular songs of the war.

In 1947 Novello helped establish the Songwriters' Guild (later known as the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors).

Ivor Novello died in London on 6th March 1951. After his death the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors instituted the Ivor Novello awards, granted annually for outstanding contributions to British popular music.

© , September 1997 - April 2014

Primary Sources

(1) Lena Ford and Ivor Novello, Keep the Home Fires Burning (1914)

Verse

They were summoned from the hillside,

They were called in from the glen,

And the Country found them ready

At the stirring call for men

Let no tears add to their hardship;

As the Soldiers pass along

And although your heart is breaking,

Make it sing this cheery song.

Chorus

Keep the Home-fires burning,

While your hearts are yearning,

Though your lads are far away

They dream of Home;

There's a silver lining

Through the dark cloud shining,

Turn the dark cloud inside out,

Till the boys come Home.

Verse

Over seas there came a pleading

"Help a Nation in distress,"

And we gave our glorious laddies;

Honor made us do no less.

For no gallant Son of Freedom

To a tyrant's yoke should bend,

And a noble heart must answer

To the sacred call of "Friend".

Chorus

Keep the Home-fires burning,

While your hearts are yearning,

Though your lads are far away

They dream of Home;

There's a silver lining

Through the dark cloud shining,

Turn the dark cloud inside out,

Till the boys come Home.

(2) Ivor Novello, We'll Gather Lilacs (1945)

We'll gather lilacs in the spring again,

And walk together down an endless lane,

Until our hearts have learned to sing again,

When you come home once more.

And in the evening by the firelight glow,

You'll hold me close and never let me go,

Your eyes will tell me all I want to know,

When you come home once more.

And in the evening by the firelight glow,

You'll hold me close and never let me go,

Your eyes will tell me all I want to know,

When you come home once more.