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.

Read "Naming of Parts."

Henry Reed Henry Reed
Henry Reed Henry Reed
Henry Reed, ca. 1960



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.




Weblogs, etc.

All posts for "Bookman"

Reeding Lessons: the Henry Reed research blog


Henry Reed in The Bookman

It's nice when the little things can still make you happy. The littlest of things. Thimbles. Banker's clips. Very small rocks. Or how about, let's say... the oldest citation for Henry Reed to appear in print?

The Bookman ("I am a Bookman." —James Russell Lowell) was a monthly literary magazine published in London by Hodder & Stoughton from 1891 until 1934. Essentially a catalog of their forthcoming books and publications, it also contained reviews, bibliographies, advertisements, and illustrations. Like most magazines of the time, The Bookman staged a continuous variety of writing competitions, inviting submissions on such varied subjects (some of which pertained to the issue in hand) as: "best original lyric"; "best epigram on an Income Tax Collector"; "best acrostic on the name of any author mentioned"; "best review, in not more than one hundred words, of any recently published book"; "best 14 lines of verse containing the largest number of examples from the winning list of hackneyed quotations from the competition in the previous number"; etc. Prizes for the winning entries ranged from half a guinea to up to a gift of three new books. Runners-up might be selected to appear in print.


The October, 1928 issue included the following long-running competition:

A Prize of Half a Guinea is offered for the best quotation from English verse applicable to any review or the name of any author or book appearing in this number of The Bookman.

Winners were listed the next month, in November. The entry which received the half-guinea came from one B.M. Beard of Bexleyheath, Kent, with a lyric from Ruddigore by Gilbert and Sullivan: '...blow your own trumpet, / Or, trust me, you haven't a chance!' as it applied to the book How to Secure a Good Job, by W. Leslie Ivey (London: Sir I. Pitman & Sons).

And there, among the runners-up, receiving the consolation prize of being "selected for printing," is the submission of one Henry Reed of Erdington, Birmingham, chosen for his take on the title of André Alba's The French Revolution (London: Richards Press): 'If you can keep your head when all about you / Are losing theirs...'. Reed was fourteen years old:

Bookman competition

"Results of Competitions for October," Bookman 75,
no. 446 (November 1928), p. 117.

This tiny portrait is exciting for several reasons: Reed was barely a teenager in 1928, attending King Edward VI Grammar School in Aston, Birmingham, and yet here he is, reading and following a London literary magazine, already adept at wordplay and pun construction. He would eventually win a 1941 New Statesman competition calling for parodies of T.S. Eliot. Kipling's poem, "If—," was first published in 1910, and it quickly became (and still remains) not only Britain's favorite poem, but Britain's most-parodied poem. It must have been taught in every classroom and repeated at every recital during Reed's childhood. (See the terrific digital collection for "If—" at Dalhousie University, with images of both broadsides and multipage editions.) Finally, this is the only record I've found in print of Reed using the address of his childhood home in Erdington.

I had to look up the value of the prize, to see just how heartbroken Reed must have been when he lost the competition. Half a guinea was the equivalent of 10s 6d, or 55p. It would have been worth about the cost of a brand new novel.

«  Biography Bookman  0  »

1537. Radio Times, "Full Frontal Pioneer," Radio Times People, 20 April 1972, 5.
A brief article before a new production of Reed's translation of Montherlant, mentioning a possible second collection of poems.

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)



Recent tags:

Posts of note:


February 2023
July 2022
June 2022
May 2021
February 2021
January 2021
October 2020
March 2020
January 2020
November 2019
October 2019
June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
December 2018
May 2018
April 2018
January 2018
February 2017
January 2017
October 2016
September 2016
February 2016
December 2015
August 2015
July 2015
May 2015
March 2015
December 2014
June 2014
April 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
January 2013
December 2012
October 2012
September 2012
July 2012
June 2012
April 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
July 2010
June 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
December 2004
October 2004
March 2004
January 2004
December 2003