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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.

Read "Naming of Parts."

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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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Reeding Lessons: the Henry Reed research blog

16.12.2017


The Perils of Interlibrary Loan

Three weeks ago, I put in for an interlibrary loan to get some photocopies of a book review from an old issue of The Listener.

Our Interlibrary Loan department states that getting photocopies may take a week to ten days. Usually, requesting a book or copies from another library takes less time, especially if it's from another in-state library. But ILL makes no promises. We must still rely on the unpredictable services of the U.S. Mail.

Anyway, two weeks after I submitted my request, I started to worry. "How long do I have to wait before I get to complain?" I asked. It's a free service, so complaining about how long it takes is really ungrateful. But ILL re-sent my request to another library.

Duke University's Perkins Library came through, finally. They even emergency-faxed the pages, which made up for some of the lost time. But somewhere along the line my request got manhandled or mistranslated: they missed the journal issue's table of contents, and they copied the title page from the first issue in the volume, not the title page from the issue my article was in. Oh, well. Beggars, choosers, and all that. Still, even I know how to tell the difference, and I know what TOC stands for. And what ever happened to my original request? Was it sent, and is malingering and maloitering under some Post Office conveyor? Did it ever get sent at all? Maybe, eventually, it will turn up, torn, opened and resealed, criss-crossed with tireprints, stamps cancelled and re-cancelled in foreign lands.

Macht nichts. I had to dig up the full citation to fill out the ILL form. So, there you have it. The long, perilously dull, but true, story of the return of a very favorable review.

«  ILL Perkins Library  0  »


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.'


Fossil Book Reviews from the Forties

I recently purchased an old, six drawer library card catalog on eBay. It's missing a couple of finger-pulls, but other than that it's in pretty decent shape. Still had the metal followers in all the drawers. This produced a remarkably vivid sense-memory: the feeling of tabbing through a drawer full of cards with my fingertips. I don't think I've actually used a physical card catalog since around 1990.

One thing about starting to re-organizize, notes and cites I had written ages ago floated to the top. The database is too large to browse properly, even broken down into subjects, and it needs more sorting options (like by date).

I came across a reference to a book review of Reed's A Map of Verona, from a 1946 Listener that I had never followed up. All I had was a date and a page number. No volume, no issue number. No title. I didn't even bother to write down where I had originally found the review cited. (Not noting sources and cross-references is a bad habit I cannot seem to break.)

It was so easy, I don't know why I hadn't tried to look it up before: Listener v. 35, no. 906 (23 May 1946): 690. "Book Chronicle." And in I put for a photocopy through interlibrary loan. We'll see, but that may be the last review from the Forties that I didn't already have. Which may be why I was putting it off: there can only be so many secondary sources left, and everything else is just third-order.

«  ILL Listener  0  »


1512. Reed, Henry. "The Case for Maigret." Reviews of Maigret Hesitates and The Man on the Bench in the Barn, by Georges Simenon. Sunday Times (London), 2 August 1970: 22.
Reed reviews two translations of George Simenon's fiction.


X-mas Comes Early to the Library

Weeks ago, I put in for an interlibrary loan for a book by W.W. Jacobs, Dialstone Lane. Jacobs was a writer of sea-themed yarns, but he's famous for the classic horror short story "The Monkey's Paw" (Project Gutenberg text). I was only interested in the introduction to this particular book, and this introduction only appears in a 1947 edition. Only a dozen libraries in the world have one, and one of those twelve consented to loan me theirs.

Whether it was the slow-boat holiday season mail, or the less than fourth-class postage libraries use, it took weeks. Weeks of cursing the Ewe-Ess Pea-Ess. Weeks of kicking myself for not requesting photocopies instead of a loan. For not just spending fifteen bucks and buying a copy online, sight unseen. The last few days I would go through the library's mail the moment it was delivered, pawing through packages, lamenting every postmark. North Carolina, no. Maryland, no. Alabama, no! Who the hell requests books from Alabama?

Today, there was a catastrophic power failure to the library server, leaving us with lightning-fast internet connections and no way to do any real work. And today, today my book arrived.

Title page | page v | page vi | page vii | page viii


The book is out of copyright, and Dialstone Lane is available online. But, as I said, I was only interested in the introduction to the 1947 edition. And, unlike Stanford U., I don't have a $125,000 book scanning Swiss robot in the basement of my library.

«  ILL  0  »


1511. William Phillips, and Philip Rahv, eds. New Partisan Reader: 1945-1953 London: Andre Deutsch, 1953. 164-171.
Collects Reed's poem, "The Door and the Window," published in the Partisan Review in 1947.



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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