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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


Letter to Robin Skelton

fonds (fôndz; Fr.n) n. the entire body of records of an organization, family, or individual that have been created and accumulated as the result of an organic process reflecting the functions of the creator.
I work in a library, albeit in a low-level administrative capacity, and I pride myself on knowing the lingo. But I've never come across this term before. Probably because it's been adopted from the French, meaning "foundation" or "groundwork"; a lace-making term. In the archival sense, a fonds is a meta-collection made up of smaller collections of papers and works, all based upon—or originating from—a single source or author.

In the Robin Skelton Fonds, University of Victoria McPherson Library Special Collections, we find this entry for a letter from Henry Reed:
Reed, Henry. 1 in, 1963, als. Includes ts. of poem, "Movement of Bodies" by Reed.
With the abbreviations unabbreviated, that translates into: "From Henry Reed: one incoming letter dated 1963, handwritten and signed, which includes a typewritten copy of his poem, 'Movement of Bodies'."

Robin Skelton (1925-1997) was a poet and critic, and a professor of English literature at the University of Victoria, British Columbia. We know him primarily for editing two anthologies which include Reed's poems: The Poetry of the Thirties (Penguin, 1964), and The Poetry of the Forties (1968).

It's easy to imagine that Reed's letter pertains to his inclusion in either anthology, but the typescript of "Movement of Bodies" is problematic: it doesn't appear in either book. The Poetry of the Thirties has an early poem of Reed's, "Hiding Beneath the Furze," and the Forties anthology contains "Naming of Parts," "Judging Distances," "Unarmed Combat," and a lesser-known poem, "The Wall." Perhaps there's something interesting here, or perhaps Skelton just declined to include a fourth Lessons of the War poem.

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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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