Noel Langley

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Noel Langley[1] (1911-1980) was a South African born novelist, playwright, scriptwriter and director.


Born Noel Aubrey Langley in Durban, on 25 December 1911, the son of Aubrey Samuel Langley and Dora Agnes Allison. He studied at Durban High School and the University of Natal (obtaining a BA in 1934). While at University, he began writing plays and became involved with the Durban Repertory Theatre. In 1935 he left for England, where he wrote novels and worked in theatre and film, till he left for Hollywood as a scriptwriter towards the end of the 1930s. He later settled in the USA and was naturalized as a US citizen in 1951.

His career in film work included a major contribution to The Wizard of Oz (MGM, 1939) and peaked in the early and middle 1950s, when he wrote the screenplay for Ivanhoe (1952), and both wrote and directed The Pickwick Papers (1952), Our Girl Friday (1953), Svengali (1954), and The Search for Bridey Murphy (1956).

(For more on his West End and Hollywood career see entries in Wikipedia[2]; IMDb[3] and )

Langley was twice married (Naomi Mary Legate: 1937-1954 / Pamela Deeming: 1959-1980) and he passed away in Desert Hot Springs, California, in 1980.

Contribution to South African theatre, film, media and performance

His first play, Queer Cargo (credited to N.A. Langley), was produced by the Durban Repertory Theatre in 1935 (one source has 1932). Other plays done in South Africa include:

Some of his plays were produced by the East Rand Theatre Club over the years. ***

His play An Elegance of Rebels was broadcast by the SABC in 1959 (the text published 1960).

His plays Farm of Three Echoes, For Ever, and Friendly Relations were published by Arthur Barker in the collection entitled Three Plays in 1936; The Walrus and the Carpenter: a comedy in three acts by Samuel French in 1942 and Little Lambs Eat Ivy: a light comedy in three acts by Samuel French in 1950.


Percy Tucker, 1997.

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