Critical and biographical information on Henry Reed, World War II British poet, critic, translator, and radio dramatist — author of "Naming of Parts"
Henry Reed, poet and radio dramatist
The Poetry of Henry Reed Homepage
Peacock, Scot, ed. "Reed, Henry 1914-1986." Vol. 78, Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series. Detroit: Gale Group, 1999. 408-410.

REED, Henry 1914-1986

PERSONAL: Born February 22, 1914, in Birmingham, Warwickshire, England; died December 8,


1986; son of Henry and Mary Ann (Bell) Reed. Education: University of Birmingham, M.A., 1937.

CAREER: Teacher and freelance journalist, 1937-41; British Foreign Office, London, England, staff member, 1942-45; writer, critic, translator, broadcaster, 1945-86. Military service: British Army, 1941-42.

MEMBER: Savile Club.



A Map of Verona: Poems, J. Cape (London), 1946, Reynal, 1947.
Lessons of the War, Chilmark Press, 1970.
Collected Poems, edited and introduced by Jon Stallworthy, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 1991.

Contributor of poetry and criticism to periodicals, including Poetry, New Yorker, Theatre Arts, Nation, Newsweek, and Time.


Paride Rombi, Perdu and His Father, Hart-Davis, 1954.
Dino Buzzati, Larger Than Life, Secker & Warburg (London), 1962.
Honoré de Balzac, Eugenie Grandet, New American Library (New York, NY), 1964.

plays; translator and adaptor

Ugo Betti, The Burnt Flower-Bed, (produced in London, 1955), in Three European Plays, 1956.
Betti, Three European Plays (contains The Queen and the Rebels, The Burnt Flower-Bed, and Summertime; also see below), Gollancz, 1956.
Betti, The Queen and the Rebels (two-act; broadcast, 1954; produced in London, 1955), Samuel French, 1957.
Betti, Summertime (three-act; produced in London, 1955), Samuel French, 1957.
Betti, Island of Goats (three-act; produced in New York City, 1955) published as Crime on Goat Island, Samuel French, 1960.
Betti, Corruption in the Palace of Justice, produced in New York City, 1963.
Natalia Ginzburg, The Advertisement (first produced on the West End, 1968; produced in New York City, 1974), Faber, 1969.


Noises On, 1947.
Noises: Nasty and Nice, 1947.
Moby Dick: A Play for Radio from Herman Melville's Novel (first broadcast, 1947), J. Cape, 1947.
Pytheas, 1947.
Leopardi: The Unblest, The Monument, 1949.
A By-Election of the Nineties, 1951.
The Dynasts, 1951.
Malatesta, 1952.
The Streets of Pompeii, 1952.
The Great Desire I Had, 1952.
Return to Naples, 1953.
All for the Best, 1953.
A Very Great Man Indeed, 1953.
The Private Life of Hilda Tablet, British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC-Radio), 1953.
Hamlet; or, The Consequences of Filial Piety, 1954.
The Battle of the Masks, 1954.
The Queen and the Rebels, 1954.
Emily Butter, 1954.
The Burnt Flower-Bed, 1955.
Vincenzo, 1955.
Crime on Goat Island, 1956.
A Hedge, Backwards, 1956.
Don Juan in Love, 1956.
Alarica, 1956.
Irene, 1957.
Corruption in the Palace of Justice, 1958.
The Primal Scene, As It Were . . ., 1958.
The Auction Sale, 1958.
The Island Where the King Is a Child, 1959.
One Flesh, 1959.
Not a Drum Was Heard, 1959.
(With Donald Swann) Musique Discrète, 1959.
The House on the Water, 1961.
A Hospital Case, 1961.
The America Prize, 1964.
Zone 36, 1965.
Summertime, 1969.
The Two Mrs. Morlis, 1971.
The Streets of Pompeii and Other Plays for Radio (contains Leopardi: The Unblest, The Monument, The Great Desire I Had, Return to Naples, and Vincenzo), BBC Publications, 1971.
Hilda Tablet and Others: Four Pieces for Radio (contains A Very Great Man Indeed, The Private Life of Hilda Tablet, A Hedge, Backwards, and The Primal Scene, As It Were . . .), BBC Publications, 1971.

ADAPTATIONS: In 1972 Reed's poem "Naming of the Parts" was adapted as a motion picture and released by Contemporary Films.


SIDELIGHTS: An educator, journalist, translator, and author, Henry Reed was probably best known for his many radio plays broadcast in Britain for more than twenty years. Reed began writing while a student at Birmingham University, where his circle of friends included writers W. H. Auden, Walter Allen, and Louis MacNeice. Like that of his contemporaries, Reed's early poetry was concerned with the political events of the period just prior to and including World War II.

After earning a graduate degree from the University of Birmingham in 1936, Reed began working as a teacher and as a journalist. During World War II he worked for the British Foreign Office and published his first poem as a result of a New Statesman contest. That poem, "Chard Whitlow," was among the most popular verse produced in England during the war. Reed, however, resented its popularity and feared that the public identified him too readily with only the one work. Nonetheless he included the poem in his first collection, A Map of Verona, which established him as a master of blank verse.

After the war Reed agreed to write an adaptation of Herman Melville's novel Moby Dick for radio. The result was a great critical success, earning Reed praise for his ability to preserve the poetic and philosophical aspects of the original work. For the next twenty-five years Reed continued to write for radio. The great majority of his plays were broadcast in the 1950's, and in the later decades Reed, who was never considered prolific, published and produced even less new work. He wrote only one other verse collection, Lessons of the War, which included material previously published in A Map of Verona. Some of his plays were published in collections such as Three European Plays, The Streets of Pompeii and Other Plays for Radio, and Hilda Tablet and Others: Four Pieces for Radio. He also published translations and adaptations of works by Italian playwright Ugo Betti and authors Paride Rombi, Dino Buzzati, and Honoré de Balzac.



Taylor, John Russell, Anger and After, Hill & Wang, 1962.


Commonweal, January 16, 1948.
New York Times, December 28, 1947.
Times Literary Supplement, May 11, 1946; November 1, 1947; December 6, 1947.



Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 27: Poets of Great Britain and Ireland, 1945-1960, Gale, 1984.


Times (London), December 9, 1986.*




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