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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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«  Mysterious Appearance  »

Reeding Lessons: the Henry Reed research blog

11.12.2017


Mysterious Appearance

An intriguing e-mail from a visitor appeared in my inbox this morning, regarding a cameo appearance of Reed in a newly-published book, London: City of Disappearances, edited by Iain Sinclair (London Times review). The book is a collection of myths and mysteries of a London lost to time — stories of disappearing people, streets, pubs, and occupations — with contributions from J.G. Ballard, Marina Warner (Guardian excerpt), Will Self (Penguin extract), Alan Moore, and Michael Moorcock.

Book cover

Reed materializes in "Death of a Cleaner" by Richard Humphreys, 'a portrait of a mysterious character called Antony Ashburner.'

There is a mysterious and evocative poem by the Birmingham poet Henry Reed, called "Chrysothemis," which gives an insight into Ashburner's life in the Second City [i.e. Birmingham]. After his death I found a galley proof of the poem in his [Ashburner's] untidy flat at the wrong end of Ladbroke Grove. There was a dedication handwritten in ink: 'To Antony from Henry December 1942.' The poem is darkly Eliotic and casts light on an important if brief relationship...

The poem in question first appeared in John Lehmann's wartime anthology New Writing and Daylight (Winter 1942-1943), and is a long monologue in the voice of Chrysothemis, the passive sister of vengeful Orestes and Electra, children of Agamemnon and his murderous wife, Clytemnestra. Lengthy excerpts from the poem appear in Harvey Gross's metrical study from Sound and Form in Modern Poetry (1964).

Many thanks to John for alerting me to this! I can't wait to get a hold of a copy of City of Disappearances.


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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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