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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.

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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 16 February 2006  »

Reeding Lessons: the Henry Reed research blog

15.12.2017


One of my private pleasures is reading other people's notes and marginalia in used and second-hand books (and, in some cases, library books), especially in books I'm familiar with: seeing which passages they chose to highlight, which words they underlined, questions they wrote to themselves to answer later.

Which is why Melville's Marginalia Online is so fascinating. A scholar is using digital technology to bring Melville's erased notations (.pdf) from his personal copy of Thomas Beale's 1839 The Natural History of the Sperm Whale back to light. From the February 17th Chronicle of Higher Education:

Imagine, at the end of Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, that Captain Ahab and the crew of the Pequod kill the white whale instead of the other way around. That Ishmael is not alone in his escape. Steven Olsen-Smith, an associate professor of English at Boise State University, has reconstructed textual evidence that strongly suggests that Melville, whose 1851 novel stands as one of the great achievements of American literature and an enduring study of doomed monomania, entertained just such a scenario.

I was slightly disappointed to discover that the presentation is delivered as a mocked-up, generic image of Beale's book, with the notes themselves as digital recreations, a sort of marginal CGI.

It does make me wonder what Reed might have done with this new information, considering he chose to have Ishmael perish with the rest of the ship's crew for his 1947 BBC radio adaptation.


Add Notation:

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Notation for "Melvinalia":
Allowed: <a> <em> <strong>
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.'


The British Library Sound Archive lists 47 titles under the author heading "Reed, Henry, 1914-1986." I suspect there are a few more skulking about, which were cataloged with different headings. Somewhere around the apartment I have a printout, intending one day to go over it record by record, and sort out their holdings.

A curious visitor emailed me this week (thanks, Nancy!), and happened to bring to my attention an entry in the Sound Archive catalog for a 1970 recording of "The Complete Lessons of the War." I'd never heard of such a version. There it is, however:
Item notes: A sequence of poems by Henry Reed. The fifth poem, Returning of Issue, has been largely rewritten since the programme was first broadcast in 1966. This new version has been re-recorded.

Recording notes: BBC recording broadcast Radio 3 December 28th 1970.
A quick search of the broadcast schedule in the London Times confirms a rebroadcast on that Thursday, at 10:00 p.m.

That's not even the most amazing thing. While I was poking around in the chaos of the Sound Archive (three entries for each item, Work, Product, and Recording?), I saw a title I didn't recognize: "On the Terrace." The item notes describe the recording as being from the BBC program "Poetry Now" on November 2, 1970, introduced by producer R.D. Smith.

There is no poem entitled "On the Terrace" in the Collected Poems and, while there are undoubtedly many unpublished poems in Reed's personal papers, the collection description at the University of Birmingham does not mention this particular poem. Was it a piece Reed was trying out, but, ever the perfectionist, eventually abandoned? Is it one of his many translations? Did he change the title?

1970 was late in Reed's poetic life, but a time in which he seemed to rise from his long silence, publishing several poems in The Listener, and at last releasing the complete Lessons of the War in print.


Add Notation:

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Notation for "Gleanings from the Sound Archive":
Allowed: <a> <em> <strong>
What is Henry Reed's first name?

1512. Reed, Henry. "The Case for Maigret." Reviews of Maigret Hesitates and The Man on the Bench in the Barn, by Georges Simenon. Sunday Times (London), 2 August 1970: 22.
Reed reviews two translations of George Simenon's fiction.



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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