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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

11.12.2017


Returning of Issue Manuscript

Maggs Bros., Ltd., is a London-based rare book and manuscript dealer, in business for over a century and a half. Here, in their inventory, is a listing for catalogue 1446, "Books from the Library of Douglas Cleverdon, 1903-1987." Cleverdon was a small press publisher and BBC radio producer. If you are a font-fanatic, you might be interested to know that Gill Sans, designed by Eric Gill, was originally created for the signboard over Cleverdon's bookshop in Bristol.

Among his credits as a radio producer, Cleverdon was responsible for the adaptation of David Jones's In Parenthesis (1948); Henry Reed's Italia prize-winning drama, Return to Naples (1950); Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood (1954); as well as all the plays in Reed's seven-part Hilda Tablet sequence (1953-1959). All in all, Cleverdon produced over two hundred programs for the BBC.

There's a fine article by Alex Hamilton on Cleverdon's achievements, "The Third Man," in The Guardian from November 20, 1971, which accompanied a profile on Henry Reed for the publication of the Hilda plays.

The Maggs Bros. catalogue, which is from 2010, includes this item:
Manuscript54 REED (Henry). Returning of Issue.
Original heavily corrected manuscript and heavily corrected typescript of the fifth and final poem in Henry Reedís The Complete Lessons of the War series, inscribed by Reed: "To Douglas & Nest Cleverdon with love and gratitude Henry Reed, July 29, 1965". With a note from Henry Reed confirming Cleverdonís ownership of the manuscript and a note from the BBC allowing this gift from Reed to Cleverdon. £4000

Together with 23 TLS and ALS from Reed, predominantly to Douglas but with a couple to Nest and one to their elder son Lewis. Mostly in the mid 1960s and about radio drama and poetry by Henry Reed and the BBC but with 7 from 1950-51, also about Reedís radio work. One is in the character of the spinster "Emma Titt-Robbins", Tablet was the protagonist of Reedís satire The Private Life of Hilda Tablet, broadcast in 1954.
The catalogue also includes Cleverdon's personal, inscribed copy of Reed's poems, A Map of Verona.

I don't know if anyone snapped up the Reed manuscripts and letters back in 2010, but if I had £4000 pocket change, I would donate them to the University of Birmingham's Special Collections, to go with rest of Reed's papers and manuscripts.



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.'


Authoring War

Recently published by Cambridge University Press is Kate McLoughlin's Authoring War: The Literary Representation of War from the Iliad to Iraq. McLoughlin is a Lecturer in English Literature at Birkbeck College, University of London, and has previously edited The Cambridge Companion to War Writing (2009). From the publisher's description:

Kate McLoughlin's Authoring War is an ambitious and pioneering study of war writing across all literary genres from earliest times to the present day. Examining a range of cultures, she brings wide reading and close rhetorical analysis to illuminate how writers have met the challenge of representing violence, chaos and loss. War gives rise to problems of epistemology, scale, space, time, language and logic. She emphasizes the importance of form to an understanding of war literature and establishes connections across periods and cultures from Homer to the 'War on Terror'.


You can also find a substantial preview of Authoring War on Google Books. McLoughlin devotes three pages to Reed's Lessons of the War sequence, from "Naming of Parts" ('begins the process of transforming non-combatant experience through the replacement of civilian by military language and semantics'), through "Returning of Issue":

The final part of 'Lessons of the War' is 'Returning of Issue', which takes the form of a discharge talk by the sergeant. The men are standing inside now because it is autumn, and through the window the recruit-speaker notes a coming down to earth of 'small things' turning and whirling in the wind. He is unable to tell whether these small things are 'leaves or flowers': it is as though his perception has been thoroughly miltarised, so that he is no longer capable of appreciating the realm of almond-blossom, japonica — and love. Indeed, the sergeant remarks, 'I think / I can honestly say you are one and all of you now: / Soldiers'. In this section, as in the others, Reed exploits the military and civilian meanings of a phrase: here, 'Returning of Issue' denotes not only the giving back of kit after service but the prodigal son's return to his father. The recruit-speaker is unable to return to his father — significantly, his parent's fields are 'sold and built on' — and so elects to stay in the army. The actual terrain on which his peacetime identity was grounded has been irretrievably lost, and so he decides to remain, not a person, but 'a personnel'. In turn, he will himself 'teach: / A rhetoric instead of words; instead of love, the use / Of accoutrements'. His consciousness has forever changed — 'I have no longer gift or want' — and so his place must change too.
(p. 105)

Authoring War is due to be released in the States on March 31, and is available for pre-order on Amazon.com.



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.



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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