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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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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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The Heat of the Day: In wartime London, a woman finds herself caught between two men.


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«  School Ties  »

Reeding Lessons: the Henry Reed research blog

26.11.2021


School Ties

Stumbled across an interesting lead today, poking and prodding around Google Print. Using Google Print is very much like browsing the index cards in an old-fashioned library card catalog's Subject drawers, except instead of only seeing the phonebook subject headings created by catalogers, there's an index card for every single word and phrase in the English language.

I was looking for information relating to Reed's training in the British army during World War II; specifically, the infamous "lessons" given by non-commissioned officers, on subjects like weapons training, fieldcraft, and self-defense.

What surfaced was a book called The British Army and the People's War, 1939-1945, by Jeremy A. Crang (Manchester University Press, 2000). Crang refers to research undertaken in 1942 by Professor C.W. Valentine, as part of an effort by the War Office to improve the quality of training British servicemen were receiving during the war. Valentine 'conducted a survey of weapons training among his former student-teachers serving in the army' (p. 79)

Among the complaints of these teachers turned soldiers? 'Too much material crowded into a given period.' 'Inadequate use of visual aids.' 'Lack of learning by doing.' 'Mechanical, parrot-like teaching' (emphasis mine), and an 'unnecessary enumeration of parts' (emphasis also mine).

Does that sound like anyone we know? Just a coincidence, of course. Perhaps the allusion is only in Crang's word choice. I'm sure the all servicemen Valentine surveyed made similar protests.

Valentine, however, just happened to be Professor of Education at the University of Birmingham, as well as the director of the university's Department for the Training of Teachers.

The University of Birmingham is, of course, Reed's Alma Mater, and Reed did teach for a year between graduating and getting called up for military service. Interesting.

Google is, of course, making news this week because they're being sued by publishers McGraw-Hill, Pearson Education, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, and John Wiley for violating copyright by scanning the contents of library collections for their Google Library Project. The Association of American Publishers claims Google is 'seeking to make millions of dollars by freeloading on the talent and property of authors and publishers.'

As near as I can figure, Google Print includes, or will include, Google Library Project scans, but also includes books scanned at the express request of publishers. The reference I discovered today makes an excellent argument in favor of these projects. After a simple keyword search, I was able to check the book out from the college's library, and I have it right here, sitting on my coffee table as I write this.


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Notation for "School Ties":
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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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