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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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Reeding:

Cold Comfort Farm: Sensible Flora Poste moves in with her eccentric country relatives.
The Dog Stars: A man, his dog, and an airplane survive an apocalyptic flu.
The Sparrow: A Jesuit-led mission to a newly discovered planet.


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Posts from July 2009

Reeding Lessons: the Henry Reed research blog

29.8.2014


George Orwell at the BBC

Deep in the Written Archives of the BBC is a collection of letters and memos relating to George Orwell's time as a Talks Producer with the Eastern Service, writing and broadcasting wartime news and propaganda to India from 1941 to 1943. The archive continues to follow Orwell's activities even after his resignation, in the correspondence of Rayner Heppenstall: poet, writer, and producer of features and drama at the BBC from 1945 until 1967. A selection of these documents have been dutifully reproduced for the digital collection, George Orwell at the BBC.

In a letter dated July 8, 1946, Heppenstall belatedly congratulates Orwell on Animal Farm being selected for a future "Book of the Month Club" edition in the United States. Heppenstall received the announcement, apparently, via Henry Reed, who "was in the publisher's office when the news came in":

Excerpt

Click the image to see Heppenstall's original letter at the BBC Archive, or here for the plain text version.

Reed's friendship with Rayner Heppenstall is well documented. In his 1969 memoir, Portrait of the Artist as a Professional Man, Heppenstall brags about introducing Reed (and a host of other BBC writers and staff) to the Stag's Head Pub, across the street from the Features and Drama offices on London's New Cavendish Street. Heppenstall produced Reed's second radio play for the Third Programme, Pytheas: A Dramatic Speculation, in 1947.

What I am having difficulty figuring out is: which publisher's office was Reed visiting in 1946, when he heard the book club news? Animal Farm was originally published in 1945 by Martin Secker & Warburg, London, but the American edition of Orwell's "fairy tale" was released the following year by Harcourt Brace, New York. Much of Heppenstall's output of the 1940s, however, was also published by Secker & Warburg. Frank V. Morley, whom Heppenstall mentions, was a director at Faber and Faber. Henry Reed did publish a book with Secker, an English translation of Buzatti's Larger than Life, but not until 1962. Confusing. And I've only had coffee for dinner; too much coffee.

It seems most likely, given the time frame, that Reed was simply visiting the publisher of his own first book of poetry, Jonathan Cape, who had only recently released A Map of Verona: Poems in May, 1946. Is that how you read it?

«  Orwell BBC Letters  0  »


1505. Orwell, George. "Young Writers." Review of New Writing and Daylight (Summer 1943), edited by John Lehmann. Spectator (30 July 1943): 110.
Orwell says of "The End of an Impulse," Reed's criticism of the Auden-Spender school of poetry, 'Henry Reed's essay contains some valuable remarks on the dangers of group literature.'


Quote... Unquote

Last Monday on Radio 4, the BBC quiz program Quote... Unquote featured the theme of "Fakes," including a round of quotes from parodies. One question was on the opening lines from Reed's (of course) "Chard Whitlow": what is it parodying? Here's the relevant clip, featuring host Nigel Rees, reader Peter Jefferson, and guest Adèle Geras:

Chard Whitlow on Quote... Unquote


You can listen to the entire show—with additional guests Conn Iggulden, Christopher Luscombe, and Simon Pearsall—on the Quote... Unquote website, until next Monday, when the new program is scheduled to air.

(With thanks to Underbelly.)

«  Radio Audio ChardWhitlow  0  »


1504. Ludwig, Jennifer. "Lessons of the War: Henry Reed." In vol. 2, Literature of War: Experiences, edited by Thomas Riggs. Detroit, MI: St. James Press, 2012. 359-361.
A relatively lengthy assessment of Reed's influences, position, and the impact resulting from his famous sequence of poems, Lessons of the War.



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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