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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.

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I Capture the Castle: A girl and her family struggle to make ends meet in an old English castle.
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«  Angry Foresters  »

Reeding Lessons: the Henry Reed research blog

26.11.2021


Angry Foresters

In 1950 and 1951, there was a series of broadcasts on the BBC's Home Service, produced by Brandon Acton-Bond, wherein three travellers would make the same journey separately, and record their impressions.

There were four programs, in all: "Pictures of a Road: Coleford to Newnham through the Forest of Dean" (June, 1950, with Audrey Russell, Henry Reed, and Ralph Wightman); "Pictures of a River: The Dart from Dartmouth to Totnes" (August, 1950, William Aspden, Georgie Henschel, and Johnny Morris); "Pictures of a Railway Journey: Plymouth to Princetown" (May, 1951, Georgie Henschel, Ralph Wightman, and Johnny Morris); and "Pictures of a Ferry-Boat Journey: Lymington to Yarmouth (Isle of Wight)" (June, 1951, Audrey Russell, Charles Causley, and Brian Vesey-Fitzgerald).

The first program, broadcast on Sunday, June 18, 1950, was apparently not well-received by the locals. It featured Audrey Russell, Ralph Wightman, and Henry Reed walking through the Forest of Dean from Coleford to Newnham, and resulted in this criticism of their reporting in the Gloucester Citizen for June 22, 1950:

Gloucester Citizen
Foresters angry about broadcast
"NOT A TRUE PICTURE"

THERE was sharp criticism in the Forest of Dean yesterday of the B.B.C. broadcast about a walk that Audrey Russell, Ralph Wightman and Henry Reed took from Coleford to Newnham.

"If the purpose of the broadcast was to convey a true picture of the district they traversed," said the vicar of St. Stephen's, Cinderford (the Rev. D .R Griffiths) in an interview, "then the descriptions given were very unfiar and misleading.
"Henry Reed said that when he got into sight of Cinderford he found stretching out in front of him for miles a place of 'grey and pink hideousness.' We can allow poets to indulge in any amount of license, but to use 'hideous' as a term of Cinderford is an exaggeration.
"Ralph Wightman said that St. Stephen's Church is just as 'Victorian and ugly as the huge chapels in the main street! Mr. Wightman doubtless knows a lot about pigs, poultry and sheep, but we cannot take his judgment on church architecture as possessing any value. The church was built just over 60 years ago, designed by a fine architect named Lingen Barker. The design was approved by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners Building Board of that time which had a panel of 13 architects. St. Stephen's church cannot be described as beautiful, but it is not ugly."

Said Henry Reed of Coleford "I didn't think Coleford had looked after itself very well. The cottages on its outskirts were horribly dilapidated; its church tower had no church; the little Town Hall, with its blue egg cosy on top, was one of the oddest buildings I've ever seen. I was only persuaded that it WAS the Town Hall by the backs of five uncomfortable-looking chairs in a first floor bow window."

Audrey Russell noticed that when the town clock struck the hour the hands were two minutes to.
Said Mr. C. E. Gillo (chairman of the Coleford Parish Council): "The Forest of Dean has suffered at the hand of the B.B.C. I am tired of people coming here and running down the place. We are painfully aware of the lack of amenities and the ugly blots, but the Forest of Dean has suffered years of industrial depression and was often governed by men with a retarded outlook.
"We are now trying to catch up on what we have lost. We are not helped by those who come here and condemn. It is grossly unfair to be measured by what might be called the municipal yardstick."
Imagine my delight, when perusing the travelled route through Google Street View, to find that Coleford's church tower still has no church.


  1 Notation  »

Chris Goddard: "They've always been strange, those Foresters. A race apart. "

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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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