From the foreword:
I HAVE endeavoured in writing and compiling this book, to emphasize not only actual deeds and historical facts, but to aspire to an even higher goal-to conjure to life for a few brief moments the "Souls" of my subjects, stark in all their deathless beauty. What task could be nobler than to delve in these vivid famous lives and bring to light, perhaps, some hitherto undiscovered motive-some delicate and radiant action which so far has escaped the common historian and lain unplucked like a wee wood violet in an old, old garden!
Modern realists would have us believe that romance and beauty are dead, that the spirit of heroic achievement and chivalry has been crushed by the juggernautic wheels of civilisation. Poor blind, sad-hearted fools-their dreary, unlovely minds have risen like gaunt weeds from the ashes of their wasted opportunities. Romance dead? Never! And in order to disprove their dismal forebodings, I have included in my portrait gallery studies of such national heroes as-Snurge, Spout, Puffwater and Plinge. Men selected purposely not merely for the glory of their achievements but for the individual dissimilarity of their fundamental characteristics, and to illustrate to doubting minds the amazing resemblance between the signal courage and romanticism of our forebears, and the innate present day spirit of high endeavour.
Take for example "Madcap Moll," Eighth Duchess of Wapping, and her famous ride to Norwich -and compare it with Jabez Puffwater's ride to the succour of his old Aunt Topsy. Or E. Maxwell Snurge's celebrated national appeal in West Forty-Second street, and Sarah, Lady Tunnell-Penge's dramatic speech from Tower Hill to the turbulent people of London.
All, all are impregnated through and through with the never failing spirit of public heroism, and staunch loyalty to existing standards, and all will stand for beauty, romance, and nobility of purpose until the end of time.
Ring up the curtain. Bring to life the faded tapestries of yesterday side by side with the vivid multi-coloured bas-reliefs of to-day! The frou-frou of brocade and lavender adown bygone corridors, and the sharp toned clarion call of Twentieth Century heroism and daring-do!
Some of the PRESS NOTICES listed in the book are pretty funny:
Clagmouth Chronicle: "A book to be taken up and put down again."
East Bromley Advertiser: "This is a book!"
The Girls' Globe: "Every young girl should read this."
Doctor Cheval in Advice to a Mother: "No bedside table is complete without 'Terribly Intimate Portraits.'"
Joe Bogworth in Capital and Labour says: "This book is perhaps the greatest power for good or evil in democratic England or aristocratic America either, for that matter. Though obviously the work of a thinker, should it by any chance fall into the wrong hands it would go far towards undermining not only the League of Nations, but the London County Council to boot!"
Aunt Hilda in Fireside Fun says: "Darling chicks, get your mumsie to buy you 'Terribly Intimate Portraits' for your birthday."
Lady Minerva Stuffe in Undies writes: "Well-dressed women will eagerly peruse these fascinating memoirs."
The Playing Field: "'Chaps'! Read this book."
The Political Gazette: "Well done, Noel Coward! Bravo, Lorn Macnaughtan!"
Herr von Grob in The Austrian Tyrol: "Gott in Himmel!"
Chicken Chat: "I advise keen poultry keepers to buy and read 'Terribly Intimate Portraits.'"
Cri de Paris: "Ce livre n'est pas seulement stupide, mais c'est excessivement irritant, et absolument sans humeur." (Translation: "This book is not only charming, but it is excessively entertaining and brilliantly humorous.")
Claybank Courier: "Once read-never forgotten."
Wigan World: "Splendid for those just learning to read."
Boxing Weekly: "Dam' good!"
WHAT THE AMERICAN PRESS MAY SAY:
Vanity Fair: "A book for ladies and gentlemen."
New York Times: "This book treats a delicate theme in the most indelicate fashion possible."
The Dial: "The parabolics are unevenly balanced."
George Jean Nathan: "Eugene O'Neill remains our only dramatist."
Life: "Noel Coward's first and best book."
Paper Trade Journal: "The sulphite used in the paper of 'Terribly Intimate Portraits' is of excellent quality."
Judge: "Two hundred and twelve pages."
Review of Reviews: "Some of it is better than the rest."
The World: "H. the 3d says that this book makes better paper dolls than any he has read for a long time."
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