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.




Weblogs, etc.

Posts from September 2006

Reeding Lessons: the Henry Reed research blog


Frost Lost and Found

A graduate student at the University of Virginia has uncovered a previously unknown and unpublished poem by Robert Frost.

Robert Stilling, a doctoral candidate in English, discovered mention of the poem in correspondence to Frost from his friend, editor and publisher Frederic G. Melcher. The letter refers to a poem inscribed inside Melcher's copy of Frost's second collection of poetry, North of Boston.

The university's Melcher collection also includes Melcher's book, and when Stilling investigated, there was Frost's handwritten poem from 1918, "War Thoughts at Home," right where Melcher said it would be.

"Finding the poem is the easiest part," Stilling said. "Learning to understand it takes a long time." (Washington Post).

The book is currently on display at UVA's Special Collections, and the poem will be published in the upcoming issue of The Virginia Quarterly Review.

«  Frost Poetry  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.

Go, Search like Nobles

Browsing the local used book store this past weekend, scanning the Poetry section, my mouth watered when I stumbled across a like-new copy of Shakespeare's Words, a glossary of words used in the plays and poems. Alas, purse and brain both empty, forced I was to leave it begging on the shelve! (Perhaps it was for the best, as C.T. Onion's glossary seems to be the more authoritative.)

Today I see Kottke (whom I must confess not reading very much of late) pointing to Clusty's search engine, Shakespeare Searched, which is just plain cool (and some wag named the search functions "billy." Farceur!). Although, I don't see anything about which text they're using, except that it's in the public domain.

For instance, my search for "Spunge" comes up empty, but the modern spelling, "Sponge" returns the expected result.

And it's easy enough to discover the Shakepeare Searched tagline, "Go search like nobles, like noble subjects," is spoken by Helicanus in Pericles Act II, Scene iv.

«  Shakespeare Search  0  »

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.'

Dubester, Anyone?

Oscar Williams is a familiar name. His Little Treasury poetry series and other anthologies are known the world over. At least four collect poems by Henry Reed: The War Poets: An Anthology of War Poetry of the 20th Century (1945), A Little Treasury of Modern Poetry, English and American (1950), A Little Treasury of British Poetry: The Chief Poets from 1500 to 1950 (1951), and An Album of Modern Poetry: An Anthology Read by the Poets (1959). There are certainly (probably) more.

Though Williams is familiar as an editor and anthologist, he was a poet in his own right, and while my Granger's lists 26 poems in various anthologies, I am pressed to find a single verse of his online.

Not surprisingly, Williams' correspondence with authors and poets is voluminous and manifold: his collected papers at Indiana University's Lilly Library contains over 11,000 items, including 6,300 photographs of the likes of Conrad Aiken, Anatole Broyard, Richard Eberhart, Robert Frost, Anne Sexton, and Dylan Thomas.

Hidden amidst this trove of treasures is a (carbon copy of a) letter from Williams to Reed, dated July 9th, 1959, and a 1963 letter to Reed, along with Reed's response (carbons, also)! See the "Index to Correspondents."

The index also contains a minor literary mystery: a letter from one Henry J. Dubester, addressed to Henry Reed and dated October 2nd, 1959.

Dubester, as near as I can figure, was Chief of the Census Library Project, at the Library of Congress, sometime in the late 1940s and early 1950s, in charge of cataloging and indexing censuses and vital statistics. The Williams collection contains letters from Dubester to an absolute litany of poets, including W.H. Auden, William Empson, Roy Fuller, Robert Graves, W.S. Merwin, Theodore Roethke, Delmore Schwartz, Stephen Spender, and Richard Wilbur, among many others.

So, my question is (or my questions are): What was a bibliographer doing, writing to all these authors and poets? And how did copies end up collected among Williams' papers?

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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