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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.

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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.
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«  Dubester, Anyone?  »

Reeding Lessons: the Henry Reed research blog

23.10.2021


Dubester, Anyone?

Oscar Williams is a familiar name. His Little Treasury poetry series and other anthologies are known the world over. At least four collect poems by Henry Reed: The War Poets: An Anthology of War Poetry of the 20th Century (1945), A Little Treasury of Modern Poetry, English and American (1950), A Little Treasury of British Poetry: The Chief Poets from 1500 to 1950 (1951), and An Album of Modern Poetry: An Anthology Read by the Poets (1959). There are certainly (probably) more.

Though Williams is familiar as an editor and anthologist, he was a poet in his own right, and while my Granger's lists 26 poems in various anthologies, I am pressed to find a single verse of his online.

Not surprisingly, Williams' correspondence with authors and poets is voluminous and manifold: his collected papers at Indiana University's Lilly Library contains over 11,000 items, including 6,300 photographs of the likes of Conrad Aiken, Anatole Broyard, Richard Eberhart, Robert Frost, Anne Sexton, and Dylan Thomas.

Hidden amidst this trove of treasures is a (carbon copy of a) letter from Williams to Reed, dated July 9th, 1959, and a 1963 letter to Reed, along with Reed's response (carbons, also)! See the "Index to Correspondents."

The index also contains a minor literary mystery: a letter from one Henry J. Dubester, addressed to Henry Reed and dated October 2nd, 1959.

Dubester, as near as I can figure, was Chief of the Census Library Project, at the Library of Congress, sometime in the late 1940s and early 1950s, in charge of cataloging and indexing censuses and vital statistics. The Williams collection contains letters from Dubester to an absolute litany of poets, including W.H. Auden, William Empson, Roy Fuller, Robert Graves, W.S. Merwin, Theodore Roethke, Delmore Schwartz, Stephen Spender, and Richard Wilbur, among many others.

So, my question is (or my questions are): What was a bibliographer doing, writing to all these authors and poets? And how did copies end up collected among Williams' papers?


  3 Notations  »

Dee: "Henry J. Dubester was Deputy Director, Office of Science Information Services (OSIS), at the National Science Foundation in Washington, D.C. in the late 1960's. Burton W. Adkinson was Director of OSIS and Henry J. Dubester worked under him."
steef: "Thanks, Dee! I don't if you saw it or not, but I actually had a follow-up to this post, regarding the Album of Modern Poetry."
lauradubester@gmail.com: "While at the Library of Congress my father oversaw the visiting poets. One of his projects was coordinating 'poets reading their own poetry' -originally on record and now available on-line I think. This may be the reason for his correspondence with many poets."

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Notation for "Dubester, Anyone?":
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What is Henry Reed's first name?

1532. Vallette, Jacques. "Grand-Bretagne," Mercure de France, no. 1001 (1 January 1947): 157-158.
A contemporary French language review of Reed's A Map of Verona.



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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