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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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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 20 February 2019  »

Reeding Lessons: the Henry Reed research blog

23.10.2021


In 1966, when she was Visiting Professor of English at the University of Washington, Seattle, Elizabeth Bishop wrote to Howard Moss at The New Yorker to let him know she had thrown his hat into the ring to replace her. A respected poet and critic, Moss was The New Yorker's poetry editor for almost forty years, from 1950 until his death in 1987.

This is a great letter in that Bishop gives all the details of the professorship that both she and Henry Reed held: salary and responsibilities (previously a Visiting Professor, Reed had returned to UW as Lecturer in English). The letter appears in Elizabeth Bishop and The New Yorker: The Complete Correspondence, edited by Joelle Biele (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011).

The letter is dated February 22, 1966: it was Reed's fifty-second birthday. 'I think he is a beautiful poet, don't you?' Bishop writes.

Book cover

4135 Brooklyn Avenue NE
Seattle, Washington
February 22, 1966

Dear Howard:

Happy George Washington's birthday—& I presume this state was named for him . . .

This is just to ask you a question. I've been asked here to recommend poets for this job, and I wondered if by any chance you would consider it sometime. I have already given your name to Robert Heilman, the head of the English Dept. (& very nice, too), so he may even have written you by now for all I know, because he seemed to take to the idea. I had heard a rumour (I think from May Swenson) that you were leaving The New Yorker—or perhaps if not you could have a leave of absence.—You may not like the idea at all, but when they asked me about "poets" I thought of you. The Poet can come for one, two (like me), or three "quarters" and the pay is $7,000 a quarter—Which seems very good by my humble standards! That is $7,000 each ten weeks, more or less. There are only 2 small classes—15 to 20—and they meet for 50 minutes, supposedly 4 times a week but I have cut the writing class to 3 times a week. This part of the world, and the breezy western manner, and teaching, rather staggered me at first— but now I am beginning to enjoy most of it except the classes —but then you did teach before, didn't you? [handwritten: "They are very nice to one, too—"]

Well—I am not urging this on you! I just thought I'd explain how it came about, in case you do hear from Mr. Heilman or a Mr. James Hall . . . Also—one is a full professor for the term, because Roethke was. One does feel a bit like his ghost, of course. This year Henry Reed is here—he had this job, too, two years ago—and he brightens things for me a great deal. I wish you would get him to send you something for The New Yorker—I am sure he has some poems somewhere, and I think he is a beautiful poet, don't you? c/o the Eng. Dept. here would reach him.

If you can think of anyone else who might like it—Anthony Hecht?—you might let me know—The biggest drawback is that one has no time for one's own work, or I don't—perhaps someone more experienced at "teaching" would. (I feel a complete fraud as far as teaching goes.) May has a job for next year or I might suggest her. Who else?

I hope you are well and cheerful—and I hope to see you in New York sometime before I retreat to the other side of the Equator again—

   With love,
      Elizabeth


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What is Henry Reed's first name?

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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