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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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«  Cowboy Tom  »

Reeding Lessons: the Henry Reed research blog

15.12.2017


Cowboy Tom

Dr. William Turner Levy, who died this past January, was an author, professor, and an ordained Episcopal priest (LA Times obituary), who called among his friends First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, the director Frank Capra, and T.S. Eliot. Levy chronicled his friendship with the poet in Affectionately, T.S. Eliot, The Story of a Friendship: 1947-1965 (.pdf).

T.S. Eliot

T.S. Eliot, Pencil and Chalk Drawing from life,
by his sister-in-law Theresa G. Eliot, 1955.

A strange convergence took place on Sunday, April 27, 1958, when Eliot was returning from appearing at an exhibition of his first editions and personal papers at the University of Texas at Austin. He and his second wife, Valerie Fletcher, stopped in New York to pay Levy a visit. Eliot arrived wearing a ten-gallon hat, having been made an honorary sheriff (I'm not making this up). After attending church with Levy's parents, the group retired to Levy's study for a martini brunch. Levy proudly showed off some books and papers he had purchased:

I next showed Tom another new acquisition, two pages in Dylan Thomas's handwriting, from a notebook which he had used during his poetry readings. The pages contained the poem "Chard Witlow" [sic] by Henry Reed, a facetious take-off on Tom's "Burnt Norton." Tom gave it a close scrutiny, and remarked, "You know, I've been chairman of the British group that has been raising funds for Dylan Thomas's family. Caitlin, his wife, asked me to—a very sad business." Thomas's death in New York had left his family almost penniless.

Tom removed his fountain pen from inside his breast pocket and wrote on the bottom of the second of the two pages. When he finished, he handed it to my parents, who read it and passed it to Valerie. When it reached my hands, Tom said, "You know, William, this is the only piece of paper in existence that has both Dylan's writing on it and mine."

I read what he had written: "Not bad. But I think I could write a better parody myself. T.S. Eliot, 27.iv.58."

Somewhere, out there in the world, in a drawer or filed away in some box, is a page from Dylan Thomas' notebooks, with a wry, handwritten note by T.S. Eliot. Not to mention the possibility of photographs of T.S. Eliot in a cowboy hat.


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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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