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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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«  Reed's Obituaries  »

Reeding Lessons: the Henry Reed research blog

22.10.2021


Reed's Obituaries

Todd Swift of Eyewear reminds us that today, December 8th, is the anniversary of Henry Reed's death in 1986, at the age of 72.

It was about ten years ago that I made my first foray into Reed research, and looked him up in Contemporary Authors. That article pointed me to Reed's obituary in the London Times. At the time, the university's microforms collection, where they have the Times on microfilm, was still on the first floor, and not down in the windowless basement like it is, now. The microfilm is stored in these tall, vertical, overhead drawers, on top of the horizontal microfiche cabinets, all made of staggeringly heavy-gauge steel. I took out the box for the first half of December, 1986, carefully wound the film into the machine (following the diagram, always follow the little diagram), and spooled through almost the entire reel to get to December, and there it was: "MR HENRY REED" (.pdf). And it wasn't until years later that I would go back to very same reel of microfilm, looking for details on Reed's funeral (also .pdf).

Reed had suffered from complaints of the chest all his life, pneumonia and its complications, but perhaps Alan Jenkins summed up best the last years of Reed's life: '[P]erfectionism, failing eyesight, alcohol and a staple diet of Complan...[.]' Funeral services were held at Golders Green Crematorium and Mausoleum on December 16th, 1986, at 2:30 pm.

I also have Reed's article from the Annual Obituary 1986, edited by Patricia Burgess (London: St. James Press). It's fairly thorough, but compiled from Reed's entries in Contemporary Authors and the World Authors series, it inherits all of their flaws (like perpetuating the notion that Taylor's Anger and After (1962) contains anything more than a passing mention of Reed in its introduction).

Reed is not entirely forgotten, "Naming of Parts" has ensured his immortality, and he will continue to turn up in unlikely places. His translations of Montale's Mottetti were published just this year. That deserves a post of its own.

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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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