Critical and biographical information on Henry Reed, World War II British poet, critic, translator, and radio dramatist — author of "Naming of Parts"
Henry Reed, poet and radio dramatist
The Poetry of Henry Reed Homepage
Allott, Kenneth, ed. "Henry Reed." The Penguin Book of Contemporary Verse, 1918-60. New rev. ed. Harmondsworth, England: Penguin, 1962. 287-288.


Henry Reed was born in Birmingham in 1914 and educated at the King Edward VI School, Birmingham, and Birmingham University. Between 1937 and 1941 he did some teaching and became a free-lance journalist. He is glad, he has said, to have been in Birmingham 'one of a group of people which included Auden and MacNeice, John Hampson and Walter Allen, the painter John Melville, the critic Robert Melville, and the sculptor Gordon Herrick'. He was called up in 1941, but was released from the army in 1942


and went to work at the Foreign Office (1942—45). At the end of the war he returned to writing for a living. Since then he has done a good deal of work for broadcasting, including a radio version of  Moby Dick, which was published in 1947, and some widely praised humorous scripts for the Third Programme of the ('Hilda Tablet', etc.).

A Map of Verona (1946), his only book of verse, has great competence in its varied metres and manners. There are good things in the less colloquial poems such as 'Philoctetes' and the 'Tintagel' sequence, but there can be no question that 'Naming of Parts' and 'Judging Distances' are the best poems in the book, as they are among the best and most intelligent poems produced during the war. I should also have liked to print 'Chard Whitlow', the wickedest and funniest parody of Mr Eliot known to me.




Page last modified: 01 October 2016