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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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Reeding:

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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«  Noguchi-Stylin'  »

Reeding Lessons: the Henry Reed research blog

18.12.2017


Noguchi-Stylin'

At last, progress. Most of the copies and printouts which had been languishing, unindexed, on the desk and coffee table have been filed in the open-shelf system; they were mostly Third Programme broadcasting schedules from the Times and Radio Times. True Noguchi-style, of course, wouldn't work for a bibliography, as sorting by author, title, and date is necessary to find a specific document. But I'm quite satisfied with the way the system works, and especially with the aesthetics: the orange-yellow of the envelopes against the black shelves.


I dipped into the box containing Reed's essays and poems copied from periodicals, but progressed only as far as titles beginning with "D", before my initial burst of enthusiam wore down. Labeling and stuffing one hundred envelopes at a stretch seems to be about the limit of my endurance.


One of the chapters in Altick's The Scholar Adventurers is "The Destructive Elements": describing the losses of many great works of literature, collections of personal letters, and irreplacable manuscripts to "fire, vermin, damp, and neglect." The passages describing the destruction of Sir Robert Cotton's collection of Anglo-Saxon literature is terrifying, and makes me wish I had purchased some sort of fireproof shelving, lest my paltry collection meet the same fate:

In 1700 the Cottonian Library was deeded to the nation; and after it was decided that Cotton House was too damp and ruinous for the preservation of the manuscripts the collection was transferred to Ashburnham House, which, besides being dryer and more spacious, was thought to be "much more safe from fire." Two years passed; then, early in the morning of of October 23, 1731, the city of Westminster was aroused by the alarm of fire at Ashburnham House. The first men on the scene saw the flames burning brightly inside the room where Cotton's fourteen book presses stood. Among the crowd which gathered were trustees of the collection, who broke into the burning house, ran to the presses, and feverishly threw hundreds of volumes from the windows. Among these rescuers was Richard Bentley, the Cottonian librarian and the greatest classical scholar of his time, who is reported to have raced from the flaming house "in his dressing gown, a flowing wig on his head, and a huge volume under his arm." He had chosen for salvation by his own hands the precious Alexandrian manuscript of the New Testament. Meanwhile other citizens were laboring at the hand pumps brought by the primitive fire brigade.

A few hours later, the portion of Ashburnham House that contained the Cottonian collection lay gutted. Of the 958 manuscript volumes in the library, about a hundred, virtually all irreplacable, were utterly destoyed; and hundreds more which survived were dreadfully charred and water-soaked. Some of these were restored with as much skill as was then possible, but there remained sixty-one bundles of damaged leaves, the sorting and repairing of which was to be delayed until the middle of the next century. Among the volumes which had escaped with minor damage was the unique manuscript of Beowulf, only the edges of which had felt the flames.

You'd think moving a precious library into a building named "Ash-burn-ham" would've given someone ironic pause, but. Here are excellent some accounts of the Ashburnham House fire and the miraculous survival of the Beowulf manuscript.


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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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