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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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Henry Reed, ca. 1960


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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.


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«  Posts from 01 March 2011  »

Reeding Lessons: the Henry Reed research blog

23.10.2021



Thomas Hardy

Robert Gittings was an author and poet, and from 1940 to 1963, a script writer and producer at the BBC. His award-winning book, John Keats (1968), is considered the definitive biography. Following this, he then set his sights on Thomas Hardy. From Gitting's obituary in the Times (London), of February 21, 1992:

Gittings's next project was a life of Thomas Hardy, of whom no biography had by then appeared that could be described as even adequate. His edition of Emma Hardy's Some Recollections (1961), done in collaboration with another writer, had received very rough handling from the late Henry Reed and was subsequently revised. Reed, who had known the second Mrs Hardy well, had for long been expected to write the definitive biography. But illness prevented that happening. Gittings failed to obtain Reed's co-operation in his work. This was a loss, as Michael Millgate's later biography, written with the benefit of Reed's expertise, showed.

Gittings accomplished his task in two volumes: Young Thomas Hardy (1975) and The Older Hardy (1978). These were received with respect and (especially the first volume) with gratitude for bringing hitherto unknown facts to light.

The "rough handling" of Gitting's 1961 book, Some Recollections By Emma Hardy and Some Relevant Poems By Thomas Hardy, comes from "Veteris Vestigia Flammae" ("scars of an old flame"), Reed's review in the Listener on October 26, 1961. Reed, of course, had spent decades on his own biography of Hardy, and may have taken offense that he was not consulted. He makes insinuations as to an over-reliance on what he calls "gossip," and then proceeds to call into question the editors' reliability:

It is a little surprising to see the name of Miss Evelyn Hardy [no relation] associated with the presentation of these difficult pages; her past achievements in the way of transcription have not been of a kind to beget confidence. It is to be hoped that the presence of Mr. Robert Gittings has guaranteed the general accuracy of the text; he has not, of course, been able to hold completely in check Miss Hardy's passion for irrelevant annotation: perhaps he feels that this has sometimes a wild charm of its own. Mr. Gittings has himself edited a small anthology of poems, appended to the main text, which may be considered to have a definite or possible derivation from the Recollections themselves. There is naturally room for minor disagreement about some of his choices, but most of what he has to say is very illuminating; and all of it is worth the closest attention.
(p. 678)

Returning to Gitting's obituary, we note that Michael Millgate's 1982 life of Hardy, "written with the benefit of Reed's expertise" (as well as that of consummate bibliographer, Richard L. Purdy), would become the definitive Hardy biography. So how much, exactly, did Millgate benefit? Quite a bit, it turns out! Millgate inherited all of Reed's Hardy research and drafts. We can see, in the finding aids for the University of Toronto's Fisher Rare Book Library, a list of six boxes of notes, correspondence, and documents relating to Millgate's Hardy books. Among the items listed are:

Box 5, 17 folders (Howard Bliss/Henry Reed):
(Folder 1) Howard Bliss/Lew Feldman correspondence
(Folder 2) Howard Bliss: inscribed, presentation or signed
(Folder 3) Henry Reed: drafted sections of projected Hardy biography
(Folder 4) Reed: misc. biographical passages re: Hardy
(Folder 5) Reed: notes and drafts re: Hardy novels
(Folder 6) Reed: Notes on conversations with Hardyís widow, 'Important'
(Folder 7) Reed: reviews of Hardy items, article on Hardy
(Folder 8) Reed: scripts for Hardy programs
(Folders 9-10) Reed: unpublished thesis on T.H. biography
(Folder 11) Reed: misc. reviews and lectures Ms. Michael Millgate
(Folder 12) Reed: misc. biographical items (clippings)
(Folder 13) Reed: MM correspondence, re: his papers
(Folder 14) Correspondence: Reed/Purdy, 1949-1977
(Folder 15) MM/Reed, carbons, 1969-1981
(Folders 16-17) Reedís comments on MMís Hardy biography
Box 6, Henry Reed notebooks (5 holograph notebooks in box):
(1) 1912-1913, brief intro. by Henry Reed on THís poems, Poems of 1912-1913
(2) HR notes on Dorchester 1851 census...
(3) HRís outlines of a few chapters of projected biography...
(4) HRís extensive notes (some on loose sheets) on Hardy family history
(5) HR notes on the early novels...

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1532. Vallette, Jacques. "Grand-Bretagne," Mercure de France, no. 1001 (1 January 1947): 157-158.
A contemporary French language review of Reed's A Map of Verona.



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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