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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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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


Guessing Games

Will this labor ever be finished? Complete? Will there ever come a day when, thumbing through the index of some quaint volume or plying the depths of some obscure database, I will suddenly discover that there is simply nothing left to discover? Not today. I am constantly amazed when I turn up Reed references which have so far managed to escape the irresistible gravity of the bibliography.

I found today's escapee as I was strolling (virtually) through the searchable database of back issues of journals at Oxford University Press, specifically Notes & Queries. Great stuff, that. (Incidentally, the 19th century stuff is online, full-text.)

Undeterred by innumerable references to Wordsworth's American editor, whose name also happened to be Henry Reed, I found this in a page of search results: 'The pages under our eye did not reveal his name, and we were content to go on guessing. (It proved to be a name new to us—Henry Reed.)'

Now, you have to have a special subscription to the Oxford University Press Journals to view articles prior to 1996. However, if you browse instead of search, the "Front matter" (table of contents) is thoughtfully provided. The article in question, "Memorabilia," happens to be on page 1 of volume 188, no. 1 (13 January 1945), and is included with the scan!

It's an unsigned article reacting to a review of Eliot's "new book," Four Quartets, which appeared in the December 9th, 1944 Time & Tide. Here's the rest of the quote:

'It does not disquiet me that there are passages in these four poems that I still do not understand, for whenever I read them, as I do often, the wonderful varied power of the language they employ holds me completely a victim, and I do not mind the uncertainties.'

When we had read as far as that, in the Time and Tide review (9 December) of Mr. Eliot's new book, we knew that here was a mind we must respect. The pages under our eye did not reveal his name, and we were content to go on guessing. (It proved to be a name new to us—Henry Reed.)

The author (whose name I may try to guess), then goes on to compare Reed's review in favor of one by E.J. Stormon, from the Winter, 1944 Meanjin Papers.

Now, I'm familiar with the journal Time & Tide, having taken an extended traipse to pursue a volume at Duke's libraries in order to obtain Walter Allen's review of Reed's A Map of Verona. At the time, I had scanned Duke's volumes looking for more of Reed's work, but this review must have slipped by. It may have been unsigned as well, as "Memorabilia"'s author suggests. And if I had to take a guess at the name of this author? Mr. Walter Allen, I presume?



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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