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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 24 March 2004  »

Reeding Lessons: the Henry Reed research blog

15.12.2017


A couple of weeks ago, I got an email from a gentleman in England, who's writing a book about the poetry of the Second World War. He was looking to find out where the poet and BBC writer Henry Reed had done his basic training, an experience that was the genesis for his most famous poem, "Naming of Parts" (shameless self-link).

I am by no means an expert on Henry Reed, although there's probably only a dozen or so folks on the planet who know more about the guy than me. I'm a Henry Reed-buff. An enthusiast. Fanboy. But an authority? Not hardly, Hardy. Still, I gave my inquiring friend all the info I had, and told him who to go to if he wanted to find out more. There's only so much research one can do, sitting at a laptop in the States. Legwork's required.

But I was curious, too. So I emailed the kind folks at the Royal Logistic Corp Museum, in Surrey, UK. Henry Reed was "called-up" into the Royal Army Ordnance Corps in summer, 1941, and the RLC is an amalgam of a bunch of British Corps, formed in 1993, which combined the Army Catering Corps, the Royal Pioneer Corps, the Postal and Courier Section of the Royal Engineers, and the RAOC. I whipped off a vague but polite email, and proceeded to forget about it.

The library mail comes around this morning, and lo! and behold: I've got a brown paper package return-addressed from England. It contains a rather nice letter from the archivist who handled my request, and a slender volume called A Short History of the RAOC (Brigadier Fernyhough, 1980. Sua Tela Tonanti! "Their Weapons are Thunderbolts."). Best guess at the moment: Reed's battalion was based out of Leicester in 1941. A fact which would seem to be confirmed by this memoir, which places the 3rd Training Battalion in Hinckley, Leicestershire.

How d'ya like that? Send an email to England, get free stuff in the post. Better'n mailing in proofs-of-purchase.

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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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