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 July 2012

Reeding Lessons: the Henry Reed research blog


Greco-Roman Reed

Excellent synopses of two of Reed's classically-themed poems can be found in Past Ruined Ilion: A Bibliography of English and American Literature Based on Greco-Roman Mythology, by Jeanetta Boswell (Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1982). Oddly, Boswell neglects the third poem in the triptych, "Antigone."
REED, Henry (1914-    , English)

1015 "Chrysothemis," in A Map of Verona. London: Cape, 1946. This daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra is presented, as a minor character, only in Sophocles' "Electra." In this play she is sympathetic to her sister's loyalty to their murdered father, but is opposed to defying Clytemnestra and Aegisthus. In Reed's poem, narrated by Chrysothemis herself, she is the haunted survivor of the many tragedies that befell the House of Atreus. She is haunted by the memory of her father's murder at the hands of her mother and Aegisthus; she remembers her brother, Orestes, who later killed Clytemnestra and Aegisthus; she recalls Orestes and Electra fleeing for their lives—she alone remains, to protect and watch over the innocent children of Clytemnestra and Aegisthus. She declares herself "not guilty of anybody's blood," and yet the conclusion of the poem raises the question of her guilt: was she guilty by means of association, by what she did not do rather than what she did? Finally, the all-important question, will she protect the innocent children, or will the old avenging fury fall on them also? There is little mythology concerning these children—a son, Aletes, and a daughter, Erigone. One source says that Orestes killed them when he returned from exile after his mother's death.

1016 "Philoctetes," in A Map (1946), is a lengthy monologue in which the hero reviews his past life and tries to analyze his future. Ten years ago he had been put ashore on the island of Lemnos by Odysseus and other men of the ship because they could no longer bear the stinking wound that Philoctates [sic] had incurred. With him they also put ashore his bow and arrows, the gift that he had inherited from Heracles. Through all these years he has suffered—mentally, from the isolation and loneliness, and physically, from the great wound that would not be healed. He grew bitter and rancorous, but always he knew that Troy could not be taken without him and his bow and arrows. Now they have come for him, and he says, "I have changed my mind; or my mind is changed in me." He prepared to depart with Neoptolemus, the son of Achilles, and Odysseus, whom he has hated above all others. "The wound is quiet, its death/ Is dead within me," he says.
[pp. 208-209]

«  Poetry Bibliography  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.

Henry Reed's Royalties

The Royal Literary Fund was founded in 1790 by the minister and philosopher David Williams, who sought to create a means of aiding and assisting authors in financial distress. The impetus arose from the tragedy of Floyer Sydenham, an Oxford fellow and translator of Plato, who died in debtor's prison.

The RLF can rank among its beneficiaries such luminaries as Leigh Hunt, Joseph Conrad, Mervyn Peake, and James Joyce; as well as the widow of Robert Burns. Originally financed by subscribers, today the Royal Literary Fund counts amongst its income the estates of A.A. Milne, Rupert Brooke, G.K. Chesterson, and W. Somerset Maugham. The Fund was able to add "Royal" to its title in 1842, owing to the support of Prince Albert. An excellent short history of the RLF is available on their website as a .pdf.


The Royal Literary Fund currently manages permissions for use of Henry Reed's poems and plays. As a not-for-profit organization, the Fund must report its income to the Charity Commission, which registers and regulates charities in England in Wales. On the Charity Commission's website are financial statistics, as well as annual reports. In the latter, we can glean some numbers for Henry Reed's annual royalty income since 2004:
2011: £1,411 (~$2,284)
2010: £1,288 (~$1,993)
2009: £270 (~$418)
2008: £1,835 (~$2,840)
2007: £2,185 (~$3,381)
2006: £1,543 (~$2,388)
2005: £706 (~$1,093)
2004: £1,948 (~$3,015)
In 1946, Reed surmised that a writer might survive on £1,000 a year. He might have settled for W. Somerset Maugham's royalties, which amounted to £139,723 in 2011, or the profits from the Pooh Properties Trust, which took in £127,500. Or, perhaps, he could take comfort in the fact that Rupert Brooke himself made a mere £220.

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.'

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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