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."

Henry Reed Henry Reed
Henry Reed Henry Reed
Henry Reed, ca. 1960



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 June 2012

Reeding Lessons: the Henry Reed research blog


Greenville Reads Reed

A review of the American edition of Reed's A Map of Verona and Other Poems appears in a most unlikely place: the Delta Democrat-Times of Greenville, Mississippi, from October 12, 1947. Doubly unusual because the book was only just published on October 8th, so the reviewer must have received an advanced copy. Greenville, I was quick to discover, has a vast and rich literary pedigree, and produced nearly one hundred published writers in the 20th century.

Doris Karsell (1922-2010), was a Denver artist and muralist, educated at the Colorado Springs Fine Art Center. She lived and worked in Greenville while her husband was managing editor at the Delta Democrat-Times (owned by Pulitzer Prize winner Hodding Carter), setting up a studio with the illustrator Elizabeth Calvert and advertising personalized book plates, portraits, and murals. Apparently, Doris was affectionately known as "Dodo". You can see a free preview of her review, "New Poet Now Mature," on NewspaperARCHIVE.com:

Karsell begins by chiding another reviewer (Walter Allen?) for attempting to place Reed outside or above the rest of the Eliot-imitating oeuvre ("It is an act of great inaccuracy to preclude"), and then rules the book "the exception and the good." She admires Reed's style, finding "each line in the collection has been cut and finished with precision. One believes that no other form or words could have been used." She discovers a strange kinship with the poet:

As if the words were sent to the receiving system by strings, and breath through hollowed wood, one is made to climb out of the box of his own limitations. One is given the long ribbon of time in its three phases. It is a clever thing that the beginning sketch establishes partnership. For the reader knows he himself has written the first verse which Henry Reed has borrowed. He knows that he is the sole one to experience it.

Most of the rest of the review is pedestrian walking-tour stuff, going through the book chapter-by-chapter, like describing rooms to a houseguest. But Karsell concludes strongly, advising, "Read the whole volume aloud, even should you read it alone," and then finally, prophetically: "It is possible we shall remember Henry Reed."

«  Newspapers Criticism  0  »

1530. Radio Times. Billing for "The Book of My Childhood." 19 January 1951, 32.
Scheduled on BBC Midland from 8:15-8:30, an autobiographical(?) programme from Henry Reed.

A Tristram Shandy


Tristram Shandy

Henry Reed's personal copy of Laurence Sterne's Tristram Shandy (London: Oxford University Press, 1931), inscribed '1934' and crossed out. Subsequently (?) owned by the poet and classics scholar, R.F. Willetts (1915-1999), Professor of Greek and Chairman of the School of Hellenic and Roman Studies, University of Birmingham.

See previously, "Reading Moby Dick in Birmingham."

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1529. Sackville-West, Vita. "Seething Brain." Observer (London), 5 May 1946, 3.
Sackville-West speaks admirably of Reed's poetry, and was personally 'taken with the poem called "Lives," which seemed to express so admirably Mr. Reed's sense of the elusiveness as well as the continuity of life.'


Here's an useful resource for researchers of all walks: UNZ.org, which is billed as "A Free Website for Periodicals, Books, and Videos" provided for "purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research."

The site is well-organized and easy to use (if not looking a little bit like the Internet circa 1996). A quick survey of the 1930s and 40s delivers works by W.H. Auden, C. Day Lewis, Louis MacNeice, and Stephen Spender.

And what of Henry Reed? Turns out there's lots! Including Reed's answer to "The Cost of Letters" questionnaire in the September, 1946 issue of Horizon; G.D. Klingopulos' review of A Map of Verona in the December, 1946 Scrutiny; the first appearance in print of Reed's poem, "The Auction Sale," from the October Encounter of 1958; and Geoffrey Strickland's review of Reed's collected Lessons of the War in the May, 1971 issue of Encounter. Plus, dozens of other mentions of Reed in other journals and periodicals to be sieved through.

Give your favorite author- or poet-of-interest a search, yourself.

«  Archives UNZ Criticism  0  »

1528. Manning, Hugo. "Recent Verse." Books of the Day, Guardian (Manchester), 31 July 1946, 3.
Manning feels that 'Mr. Reed has worn thin much of his genuine talent in this direction by too much self-inflicted censorship.'

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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