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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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Reeding Lessons: the Henry Reed research blog

11.12.2017


Serendipitous Discoveries, Snail Mail

I had a couple of days off around the Fourth of July, owing to a governor generous to his overworked state employees, and to an ongoing library construction/renovation project, which left my department almost completely unbuilt for several days.

Unfettered, I snuck over to the other campus library, to snag a 1965 book review written by Reed on Hugh D. Ford's A Poet's War: British Poets and the Spanish Civil War. I was chagrined to discover that our run of The Sunday Times doesn't begin until 1972.

In an attempt to salvage something of my visit, I decided to browse The Offical Index to the Times (London). I discovered, however, that that particular set is arranged by year and subject—which makes perfect sense—but is less helpful than a personal names index. Crestfallen, I was ready to disembark emptyhanded, when the adjacent title in the Index section caught my eye: The Book Review Digest.

Our main library shelves large sets of indexes separately, in their own section, lumped immediately following the bulk of the Reference collection. Somehow, after years of prowling the Reference books, I had overlooked this resource. Volume after volume of nothing but (American) book review citations, arranged by the years they were reviewed, with indications of positive and/or negative reviews, and including short quotations and lengthy excerpts!

I instinctively pulled down 1946, but Reed's poetry collection, A Map of Verona, wasn't published in the States until 1947. Quickly upgrading to the next volume, I found it quite easily: no fewer than four reviews indexed! Two of which I had already seen: Rago's review from Commonweal, and Breit's from The New York Times Book Review. But that left me two, never-before-seen, completely unheard of, reviews of Henry Reed! Two! Two! Two reviews! Library Journal, and Kirkus Reviews. I nearly floated to the photocopiers, and exercised enormous restraint as I carefully replaced the Digest volume in its slot on the shelf, afterward, before nearly skipping to the online catalog.

The Kirkus review? Only available online, and only after 1969. Which meant requesting photocopies through Interlibrary Loan. The Library Journal we had, but the less relevant, more aged volumes are stored offsite, which meant I had to place my request and wait a day to see the result. To my dismay, the 50-word blurb had already been quoted in its entirety in Book Review Digest (which should have been painfully obvious, as they thoughtfully provide a word count):

Henry Reed is a young English poet whose work, until now, has been little known in this country. Many of the poems have legendary themes but their meaning is deeply rooted in our own 'age of anxiety.' The final pages are devoted to lyric interludes written for a BBC radio version of Moby Dick.
Library Journal 72, no. 21 (1 December 1947): 1688.

And today was the sixth day since my Interlibrary Loan of a particular Bulletin from Virginia Kirkus' Bookshop was shipped, and still, the U.S. mail brings me no joy. Tomorrow, perhaps?

«  Indexes Criticism  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.'


Henry Reed Hates to See

In the tradition of McSweeney's lists:

----
PEOPLE HENRY REED
HATES TO SEE IN INDEXES
HE HIMSELF IS NOT LISTED IN.

----
Green, Henry

Greene, Graham

Read, Herbert

Reed, Ishmael

Reed, Lou

Rees, David (no, not that David Rees).

Reeves, James

Reid, Alastair

Rhys, Keidrych

Treece, Henry

«  Indexes  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.


Indexing the Indexes

Or, if you're a stickler, Indices.

When I first got hooked on Henry Reed, I didn't really know how to go about tracking down sources. There was Granger's Index, sure; and the fledgling Internet helped a little (although, a lot of stuff was still being released on CD-Rom, at that time. Ah! The 'Nineties.). Mostly, I was following breadcrumbs: the footnotes in one article would lead me to two others, which led me to three others, et cetera, et cetera, ad infinitum. I'm proud that I did it that way. It was hard work. Detective work.

But recently, I discovered a lot of time and effort could have been saved had I just spent a couple of afternoons and evenings going shelf by shelf, title to title, in the Reference section of the university library.

Reed is hardly obscure. The Lessons of the War and "Chard Whitlow" are widely anthologized. His radio work for the BBC placed him in another milieu entirely, an extensive range. I'm convinced that you cannot swing a cat, living or dead, in any library with the Library of Congress call number "P," without hitting a book that mentions Reed.

So, taking Vizzini's advice, I go back to the beginning. To see if there was anything I missed.

I've spent the last few evenings after work prowling indexes for never-before seen citations: anthologies, biography, explication, and just plain passing mention. I'm literally tanned from standing over an open photocopier, repeatedly turning heavy volumes on the glass like steaks on a barbeque.

The latest Granger's Index to Poetry was the largest boon, naming at least a dozen anthologies to track down and look up. The library has a 2002, 12th edition, whereas at home I'm stuck with an 8th that I plucked from the donation box of the first public library I worked for (I miss getting first paws on the duplicates donated to the Public Library System. Sigh). The 12th actually has an entry for Reed's "Dull Sonnet," which is obscure enough that even I had to go look it up.

But I also turned up the index to a set called Modern British Literature, compiled and edited by Ruth Z. Temple, et al. Alas, the university only owns the American half of the series. I see a field trip in my future.



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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