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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.
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«  First Appearances  »

Reeding Lessons: the Henry Reed research blog

26.9.2017


First Appearances

Is this the humble beginning of Henry Reed's writing career with BBC radio?

Roger Savage, writing in the book British Radio Drama (1981), says Reed's first original writing for radio was a 1946 piece called Noises, produced first in a fifteen-minute version for an interlude between programs, and then extended to a full half-hour. Martin Armstrong, in The Listener, described the piece as

a short essay on the psychology of noises in which noises were used to play, wittily and suggestively, on the imagination of the listener (November 28, 1946).

British Radio Drama includes a bibliography of Reed's radio plays and the dates of their premieres—Noises is listed as having first aired on the BBC on March 4, 1946:

Radio schedule

As you can see, the only "Interlude" scheduled is a five-minute break on the Light Programme at 7:10 p.m., although there is a fifteen-minute "Forces' Favourites" at 7:45 which could be a candidate.

The extended version of Noises which Armstrong reviewed for The Listener was broadcast later that year, on November 18, 1946, at 6:00 p.m. By that time, the Third Programme had been created, and the piece had earned a subtitle (as many of Reed's plays would) "A satirical programme":

Radio schedule

Unfortunately, in some books the play is also listed as Noises On (as in the opposite of "noises off-stage"), and the longer version as Noises—Nasty and Nice, causing me all sorts of difficulties in searching and pinning down dates and times.

«     »

  1 Notation  »

Chris Goddard: "Fascinating stuff.

"Noises" (and its derivatives) reminds me strongly of the Stephen Potter and Joyce Grenfell "How" series which began in 1943 and opened the Third Programme with "How to Listen" in 1946.

There more than an echo of Hilda Tablet's "musique concrete renforcee", especially the use of a zip fastener ("Elsa's Zip").

I wonder if Michael Frayn retained a childhood memory (he was 13 in 1946) of "Noises On" when he came to write his farce "Noises Off" in 1982?"

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What is Henry Reed's first name?

1513. Hodge, Alan. "Thunder on the Right." Tribune (London), 14 June 1946, 15.
Hodge finds 'dry charm as well as quiet wit' in "Judging Distances," but overall feels Reed is 'diffuse and not sufficiently accomplished.'



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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