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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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«  Lights Out, Uh-huh  »

Reeding Lessons: the Henry Reed research blog

16.12.2017


Lights Out, Uh-huh

I find myself gloriously and unexpectedly free today. The library where I work has just begun an expansion project, and today is our first construction-assisted, paid vacation day. Somebody cut an utility line, and the power company had to disconnect the library from the grid to keep us from asploding, and to begin repairs. Hooray! A no-snow snowday in May! I have (almost) no idea what to do with myself.

Since the initial de-electrification happened yesterday afternoon (unelectrification? diselectrification?), I suspected this might happen, and I rose early today to prepare. Not only did I need to make frantic phonecalls to wave off my staff before they left for work ("Abort! Abort!"), but I had hopes I'd be able to visit the university's Rare Books collection (which is on main campus and still has electricity).

So, having learned my lesson with a previous visit to a library's Special Collections, I packed everything: laptop, digital camera, and pencils of varying weights and eraser-heights. Loaded for bear, I waited patiently for the doors to open, and found myself all alone, with the entire Rare Books collection at my beck (and call), and the whole staff to take care of me, just me, at nine a.m.

These last few nights after work I've been flipping through small press literary magazines from wartime Britain, searching for Henry Reed's name in Tables of Contents, with no results. (Not surprisingly.)

Kingdom Come: The Magazine of Wartime Oxford, is in Rare Books. The very nice staff brought me the collection's entire run, about seven issues from the years 1939-1943. The magazine started out very tiny, printed on fine paper in a format not much bigger than your palm, and then soon blossomed into a large magazine-sized rag, with bright, primary-colored covers: red, green, blue.

Inside, there were all the names I've grown familiar with: Spender, Read, Treece, Heppenstall. But no Henry. I resolved myself to merely requesting a photocopy of the poem "King Mark," from another journal, Orion: A Miscellany, edited by Rosamond Lehmann.

The unbound periodicals and journals in Rare Books are tied together with a sort of ribbon, soft and velvety, acid-free. This keeps all the issues together in pile. So when the staff fetched the volume I requested (1945), I actually got the pile of four volumes. After slipping bookmarks into the pages I needed in the '45, and filling out a photocopy request form, I peeked at the other three volumes.

There, in Orion 4, Autumn 1947, was a fifteen-page Henry Reed article on James Joyce: "Joyce's Progress." Lightning bolt! Thunderstruck!

The length of the article ruled out transcribing it into Notepad (as do my typing skills), but now I must wait a week to ten days for a photocopy. The semester's almost over, and there's no student help to do the grunt work. Rare Books will take digital images for you, but they won't allow you to use your own camera, drat.

And I forgot to look for an "About the Contributers" page!


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Notation for "Lights Out, Uh-huh":
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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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