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Documenting the quest to track down everything written by (and written about) the poet, translator, critic, and radio dramatist, Henry Reed.

An obsessive, armchair attempt to assemble a comprehensive bibliography, not just for the work of a poet, but for his entire life.

Read "Naming of Parts."

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Henry Reed, ca. 1960


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I Capture the Castle: A girl and her family struggle to make ends meet in an old English castle.
Dusty Answer: Young, privileged, earnest Judith falls in love with the family next door.
The Heat of the Day: In wartime London, a woman finds herself caught between two men.


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«  Posts from 11 February 2007  »

Reeding Lessons: the Henry Reed research blog

16.12.2017


Reed's freelance career with the BBC was more or less over before the demise of the Third Programme in 1970, and he would produce only a handful of translations for broadcast in the following years. Part of the problem was his reluctance, or inability, to adapt to the new medium of television. He had a disastrous experience working with the director Ken Russell on a film about the composer Richard Strauss in 1969-70. This is widely regarded as Reed's only foray into television.

I found a surprising story today in Sean Day-Lewis's memoir of his father, C. Day-Lewis: An English Literary Life (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1980), which proves Reed dared to delve into television at least one time, previously. In 1963, Reed had a run-in in Dorset with his friend and fellow poet Cecil Day-Lewis, when both men were working on rival Thomas Hardy projects for TV:

Earlier that summer Cecil had done his work as commentator on a short film about Thomas Hardy made by David Jones for the bbc Television arts programme Monitor. He had said some of his piece at the Upper Bockhampton cottage, near Dorchester, where Hardy was born in 1840. By chance, the poet Henry Reed, the source of so many of the jokes on which Cecil dined out, was at the same time making a Hardy programme for Southern Television. Between them they built this coincidence up into a hilarious anecdote which had the lane jammed with outside broadcasting units, a sea of crossed wires and cross technicians, and the two poets shouting infuriated insults to each other, Cecil ponitificating indoors, and Reed holding forth in the garden. Whatever the difficulties, the bbc film was completed and broadcast at the end of November (p. 254).

Can't you hear the two men pouring derision at each other, playing it up for the cameras and crew? "Day-Lewis, you hack! Are you going to spend all day in there?" "We'll be through when we're through, Reed! You has-been!" That's a lovely compliment about Day-Lewis retelling Reed's jokes, too.

And here's a bit of film-and-tv trivia for you: the actress Kika Markham played Tess in the BBC's film (click on "reveal extra detail"). I recognize her from her cameo as Sean Connery's wife in the 1981 movie, Outland.


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What is Henry Reed's first name?

1513. Hodge, Alan. "Thunder on the Right." Tribune (London), 14 June 1946, 15.
Hodge finds 'dry charm as well as quiet wit' in "Judging Distances," but overall feels Reed is 'diffuse and not sufficiently accomplished.'



1st lesson:

Reed, Henry (1914-1986). Born: Birmingham, England, 22 February 1914; died: London, 8 December 1986.

Education: MA, University of Birmingham, 1936. Served: RAOC, 1941-42; Foreign Office, Bletchley Park, 1942-1945. Freelance writer: BBC Features Department, 1945-1980.

Author of: A Map of Verona: Poems (1946)
The Novel Since 1939 (1946)
Moby Dick: A Play for Radio from Herman Melville's Novel (1947)
Lessons of the War (1970)
Hilda Tablet and Others: Four Pieces for Radio (1971)
The Streets of Pompeii and Other Plays for Radio (1971)
Collected Poems (1991, 2007)
The Auction Sale (2006)


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