About:

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


Contact:


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.


Elsewhere:

Books

Libraries

Weblogs, etc.


All posts for "London"

Reeding Lessons: the Henry Reed research blog

11.12.2017


Reed in the Savile

Henry Reed was for many years a member of the Savile Club, Mayfair, London, where he spent much of his idle time drinking, playing bridge, drinking, and occasionally dining with friends (or the occasional boyfriend). Reed was probably introduced to the Savile by one of his more-established peers — Walter Allen or Louis MacNeice — but the attraction of the Savile surely resided in the fact that it had been the club of Reed's hero, Thomas Hardy.

A history of the club by Garrett Anderson, Hang Your Halo in the Hall: The Savile Club from 1868 (London: Savile Club, 1993), contains a section devoted to poets who were members of the club. Anderson relates a delightful anecdote concerning Reed having to appear in court to explain his inability to pay his council tax:
For his eightieth birthday in 1989 the Savile organized one of its more Lucullan Soirées to celebrate Sir Stephen's [Spender] years of membership and, as Patric Dickinson observed on the other occasion, nobody stopped talking for long. It is a pity that one of Spender's old friends, one of the more brilliant talkers in recent times, another Savile poet, Henry Reed, could not have been present.

Like several of his lyrical colleagues at the Savile, Henry brought translations of his classical predecessors as well as his own distinctive verse to a wider public through the medium of radio, and like Spender and Pudney he had been much influenced in his youth by Auden; like Pudney too he had served in Intelligence during the war and had produced one of the most famous poems in English to come out of it — "Naming of Parts". In 1946 his fellow Savilian Edward Sackville-West persuaded him to write a dramatization for radio of Moby Dick which was produced a year later featuring two other Savile members, Ralph Richardson and Bernard Miles. It won the Premio della Radio Italiana and established Henry with the critics as a radio dramatist with a rare poetic gift.

In 1970 a collection of his poems, The Lessons of War, was published to wide acclaim and in 1971 the texts of his poetic dramas for radio were published as The Streets of Pompeii. A Very Great Man and its sequels Hilda Tablet and Others also appeared, between them revealing much of the man himself, a master of comedy with a deeply sombre interior. In manner and appearance he resembled a classically educated Tony Hancock, presenting a lugubrious exterior from which emanated surprising flashes of wit. Many contemporary members will retain happy memories of evenings spent in his company. On one occasion when he was suffering one of his regular bouts of financial starvation he regaled the long table with an account of his appearance that morning before the magistrates to explain his inability to pay the rates: "And what, Mr Reed, is your profession?" asked the magistrate. Diffidently, Henry admitted that he was a poet. "Yes, yes," said the magistrate testily, "but what do you do for a living?"
It should be pointed out that it was Reed's The Streets of Pompeii (1952) which won the Radio Italiana prize, for 1953.

«  SavileClub London  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.'


Behind This Door

Last month, Google Maps went live with their Street View service for select cities in the UK, including Birmingham, Cambridge, London, and Oxford (see the announcement on Google's LatLong blog). This adds another dimension to our map of "The Life and Times of Henry Reed," and will hopefully allow for more accurate placemarking, since Google's street addresses are approximate, and often off by as much as a city block.

The first thing I went looking for was Reed's London flat on Upper Montagu Street, where he lived from 1957 until his death in hospital, in 1986. Here's a small, interactive widget—click the + sign to zoom, and the arrows to sidestep—you can even pop around the northwest corner to the chemist's, on Crawford Street!


Zooming in, of course, we can go right up to the front door:

Google Street View

See larger image on Flickr.

The fact that the building is still extant is important, since it means that Reed stands a chance at one day getting his own memorial Blue Plaque from English Heritage, perhaps for the centenary anniversary of his birth, in 2014.

«  London Maps Biography  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.


Blue Circles

Henry Reed died December 8th, 1986, in St. Charles Hospital, London. This December marks the twentieth anniversary of his death.

This landmark makes Reed eligible for one of English Heritage's famous Blue Plaques, which adorn London landmarks once inhabited by eminent contibutors to the arts or industry.

Blue Plaque

Some notable contemporaries of Reed's who have been awarded plaques include: Sir John Betjeman (31 Highgate West Hill), Sir Arthur Bliss (1 East Heath Road), Benjamin Britten, O.M. (173 Cromwell Road), C. Day-Lewis (6 Crooms Hill), T.S. Eliot, O.M. (3 Kensington Court Gardens), Louis MacNeice (52 Canonbury Park South), Dame Edith Sitwell (Greenhill, Hampstead High Street, Flat 42), and Dylan Thomas (54 Delancey Street).

Among other requirements, to be eligible for a Blue Plaque a person must:
  • Be considered eminent by a majority of members of their own profession or calling
  • Have made an important positive contribution to human welfare or happiness
  • Be recognisable to the well-informed passer-by
  • Deserve national recognition
  • Have resided in a locality for a significant period, in time or importance, within their life and work
Is the name "Henry Reed" recognizable by well-informed passers-by? Perhaps not, but certainly most people would recognize the title "Naming of Parts," or the name Hilda Tablet. Besides the argument that Reed's contributions make him eligible, there is also the difficulty of whether or not his old London flat still exists:
  • Plaques can only be erected on the actual building inhabited by the nominated figure, not the site where the building once stood. However, consideration may be given in cases where reconstructed buildings present an exact facsimile frontage on the identical site
Reed lived on Upper Montagu Street, Marylebone, from 1950 until his death. To complete an application to propose a plaque, a photograph of the location is preferred. Any London shutterbugs out there want to earn a few PayPal pounds? Flickr? Anyone?

There is good news, however. The Birmingham Civic Society already has plans to erect a Blue Plaque dedicated to Reed in their city during the centenary of his birth, in the year 2014 (see future plaques). W.H. Auden already has one (see this gallery of Blue Plaques in Birmingham). Also scheduled to receive plaques in Birmingham are Walter Allen (in 2011), and Louis MacNeice (2013).

At any rate, on Friday, December 8th I'll be stopping down at the local pub after work, to honor Mr. Reed's memory with one his favorite pastimes: having a few drinks. I'm buying!

«  London Birmingham  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)


Search:



LibraryThing


Recent tags:


Posts of note:



Archives:


Marginalia: