About:

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


Contact:


Reeding:

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.


Elsewhere:

Books

Libraries

Weblogs, etc.


All posts for "Bishop"

Reeding Lessons: the Henry Reed research blog

26.11.2021


Elizabeth Bishop Writes

In 1966, when she was Visiting Professor of English at the University of Washington, Seattle, Elizabeth Bishop wrote to Howard Moss at The New Yorker to let him know she had thrown his hat into the ring to replace her. A respected poet and critic, Moss was The New Yorker's poetry editor for almost forty years, from 1950 until his death in 1987.

This is a great letter in that Bishop gives all the details of the professorship that both she and Henry Reed held: salary and responsibilities (previously a Visiting Professor, Reed had returned to UW as Lecturer in English). The letter appears in Elizabeth Bishop and The New Yorker: The Complete Correspondence, edited by Joelle Biele (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011).

The letter is dated February 22, 1966: it was Reed's fifty-second birthday. 'I think he is a beautiful poet, don't you?' Bishop writes.

Book cover

4135 Brooklyn Avenue NE
Seattle, Washington
February 22, 1966

Dear Howard:

Happy George Washington's birthday—& I presume this state was named for him . . .

This is just to ask you a question. I've been asked here to recommend poets for this job, and I wondered if by any chance you would consider it sometime. I have already given your name to Robert Heilman, the head of the English Dept. (& very nice, too), so he may even have written you by now for all I know, because he seemed to take to the idea. I had heard a rumour (I think from May Swenson) that you were leaving The New Yorker—or perhaps if not you could have a leave of absence.—You may not like the idea at all, but when they asked me about "poets" I thought of you. The Poet can come for one, two (like me), or three "quarters" and the pay is $7,000 a quarter—Which seems very good by my humble standards! That is $7,000 each ten weeks, more or less. There are only 2 small classes—15 to 20—and they meet for 50 minutes, supposedly 4 times a week but I have cut the writing class to 3 times a week. This part of the world, and the breezy western manner, and teaching, rather staggered me at first— but now I am beginning to enjoy most of it except the classes —but then you did teach before, didn't you? [handwritten: "They are very nice to one, too—"]

Well—I am not urging this on you! I just thought I'd explain how it came about, in case you do hear from Mr. Heilman or a Mr. James Hall . . . Also—one is a full professor for the term, because Roethke was. One does feel a bit like his ghost, of course. This year Henry Reed is here—he had this job, too, two years ago—and he brightens things for me a great deal. I wish you would get him to send you something for The New Yorker—I am sure he has some poems somewhere, and I think he is a beautiful poet, don't you? c/o the Eng. Dept. here would reach him.

If you can think of anyone else who might like it—Anthony Hecht?—you might let me know—The biggest drawback is that one has no time for one's own work, or I don't—perhaps someone more experienced at "teaching" would. (I feel a complete fraud as far as teaching goes.) May has a job for next year or I might suggest her. Who else?

I hope you are well and cheerful—and I hope to see you in New York sometime before I retreat to the other side of the Equator again—

   With love,
      Elizabeth

«  Bishop NewYorker Letters  0  »


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.


More from Elizabeth Bishop

Published last October, Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence Between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell (edited by Thomas Travisano and Saskia Hamilton, Farrar, 2008), finally reveals both sides of a conversation I discovered last spring, in The Letters of Robert Lowell (Hamilton, ed., 2005).

Book cover

Bishop and Lowell first began exchanging letters in 1947, after meeting at a party given by Randall Jarrell. In the mid-60s, Bishop met Henry Reed when they were both teaching at the University of Washington, Seattle. Here are the relevant excerpts from the Bishop-Lowell correspondence, which include several classic Reed witticisms, expressions of Bishop's admiration and concern for her new friend, and even a mention of Reed's desire to expatriate to the United States (!):
June 15, 1965
Dearest Elizabeth,

I rather hope you'll take in the Washington job. You'll like the landscape and the relative quiet for America, and I think [Robert] Heilman, the head of the department, will shape the conditions [to] suit you. He did marvels with Ted Roethke and has since had such unacademic shy people as Henry Reed and Vernon Watkins. Everyone seems terribly excited for your arrival...[.]

   All my love,
      Cal
(p. 576)


Apt. 212, 4135 Brooklyn Ave., N.E.
Seattle, Washington, 98105
Washington's Birthday
[Feb. 23, 1966]
Dearest Cal:

I don't know where to begin. You are much admired here and several of my "students" ) I have to keep putting everything in quotes because none of it seems quite real to me, even now) are using you for their term-papers . . . you are being compared (to his discredit) frequently with Eliot, I think—Henry Reed is here—a bright spot in my life, I must say. I had dinner with him last night and he told me how he had heard a beautiful reading of SKUNK HOUR in England—and was reported in the papers as having said in a loud aside, "That's the only poem worth a damn this whole evening." He was sorry not to have met you here and would very much like to when he goes to New York.—I'm not sure when. He is extremely funny—referred to Olivier in OTHELLO as "The Nigger of the Narcissus," to give you an idea of his wit. I shall make so bold as to give him your address. He has done a few beautiful poems since "Naming of Parts" ("to which I owe my livelihood," he says) he has shown me—but I think writes really very little...[.]

Well, I was never meant to be a teacher and would never like it—but I do like the "students" (children, I call them to myself)—even if they seem awfully lacking in joie de vivre and keep telling me about their experience with LSD and "pot" etc., and (2 girls) how they are "on the PILL"—I think this was to convince me they are serious about writing! The boys are all over six feet—some girls are, too—and the girls have huge legs—& have blue eyes; one left-handed—what is this high percentage of left-handedness, I wonder? Henry said he'd been warned about the bosom in the front row—but not about the large bare knee that starts creeping up over the edge of the table . . . [.]

   Love,
      Elizabeth
(pp. 598, 599)


Samambaia, September 25th, 1966
Dearest Cal:

I might see Henry Reed in London. He was a wonderful comfort to me in Seattle—and I think I was to him, too. He is a sad man, though, perhaps because he hasn't been able to work for so long—I don't really know—but funny as can be at the same time. We cheered each other up through exams by midnight telephone calls telling each other the best things we'd found. He was teaching "Romeo & Juliet" to about 60 freshman, poor dear. My favorite of his was a girl's paper that began "Lady Capulet is definitely older than her daughter but she remains a woman." One boy: "Romeo was determined to sleep in the tomb of the Catapults" . . . etc.—Henry is going back for the winter term of the job I had, again. He wants to settle in the USA, being very romantically fond of it, I think, although he's seen nothing at all except some of the west coast. I think he is a wonderful teacher—too good, really for Un. of W.—if you have any ideas of a course he could give somewhere else I wish you'd let me know . . . I think I'll write Dick Wilbur. I know nothing of the Wesleyan things, but perhaps when my grant is over and that book is done, I might apply for one. I think it would do both Lota and me a lot of good to stay in Connecticut for a few months!—seeing New York, but not IN it. I don't think I'll ever feel tough enough for New York again, somehow...[.]

   —Much much love,
      Elizabeth
(p. 608)


October 2, 1966
Dearest Elizabeth:

How lovely to hear from you again in all your old leisurely fullness. Sorry that Seattle was a grind and that Lota has had so much too much work. I have to fly up to Harvard soon for my weekly classes there, so will just dash off this letter, trying to answer and comment on your letter. The man in charge of Wesleyan is Paul Horgan, a Colorado or Arizona novelist. We know him quite well, and will get in touch with him, if you and Lota & Henry Reed are really interested. It's a queer place, about a dozen people in residence, some with wives, some without, an office, rooms or a house. Lizzie and I were offered about $20,000 to stay there a year, but so far have held off, not wanting to change Harriet's school, preferring to be in New York. It can be rather melancholy, but all depends on who is there—usually several people from Europe, ages older and more uniformly distinguished than Yaddo. The I.A. Richards are there now, later the Spenders are coming. Always someone. No duties, though it's suggested that you informally meet students. It might be perfect for you both. Let me know, and I'll start writing and calling people...[.]

I'd think a lot of places would like to have Henry Reed. Everyone speaks well of him, and he is quote famous and admired for his one book. He's a great friend of our friend the actress Irene Worth...[.]

   All my love,
      Cal
(pp. 609, 610)


August 28th, 196[8]
Dearest Cal:

Since I am being so gossipy—I loved your account of yr. visit to Mr. Rubberheart (as Henry R calls him). Much worse than my simple evening sallies here . . . It was particularly funny since I had just had a letter from him—Mr. R [poet Richard Eberhart]—I received two copies of his last book and felt I had to say something honest, I thought. In return I got a long letter all about people I never heard of with names like Tricksy and Adam . . . Grandma and Mrs. Crosby "both 79," etc, etc...[.]

   With much love always—
      Elizabeth
(p. 648)
While I'm certain Reed's anecdote about his overly-loud commentary on Lowell's poem is true, I think the fact that he was quoted in the London newspapers is probably an exaggeration. Bishop's letter of September 25, 1966 is likely the source of Brett Millier's mention of Reed and Bishop's late-night Seattle telephone conversations, in Elizabeth Bishop: Life and the Memory of It (University of California, 1995). The American actress, Irene Worth (pronounced i-REE-nee), starred in Reed's adaptation of Ugo Betti's The Queen and the Rebels, staged in London's Haymarket Theatre in 1955.



1531. Henderson, Philip. "English Poetry Since 1946." British Book News 117 (May 1950), 295.
Reed's A Map of Verona is mentioned in a survey of the previous five years of English poetry.


Invitation Extended

Two fortuitous happenings this weekend. Firstly: more than a week ago—before I traipsed down to Duke University and back, even—I photocopied two articles from 1961 at the university library. One was Reed's book review of Emma Hardy's Some Recollections from The Listener, and the other was a review of Three Plays, by Ugo Betti, from Prairie Schooner. In my haste to read the Listener article, I managed to leave the Schooner review on the copier output tray.

Going back to the library this evening, I re-pulled the 1961 Prairie Schooner volume from the shelf, and when I arrived at the photocopier what should I find? My copies from the previous week, neatly arranged on the adjacent work table. Buddha bless Duplication Services!

The second happening took place at the local Barnes & Noble, where I was attempting to take account of all the articles, reviews, and letters I had dug up down at Duke. B&N's wireless service conked out after an hour or so, however, so after I had finished licking the inside of my coffee cup, I went down to peruse the Poetry section on my way out. A paperback copy of The Letters of Robert Lowell (bn.com) caught my eye, and I immediately turned to the index, under "R". There was one entry for Reed, in a letter to Elizabeth Bishop, who had left Brazil to take a job teaching at the University of Washington, Seattle:

February 25, 1966

Dearest Elizabeth:
Wonderful your letters are pouring out again. I had terrible pictures of you despondent and lost in the new toil of teaching—lonely, cold at sea. Lizzie taught last term at Barnard for the first time in her life. Her first comment was 'the students aren't very good, but I am...[.]'

Your book is another species from almost everything else. I think even the reviewers now see that there's no one, except Marianne Moore at all comparable to you. I guess I struck Roethke under a bit more favorable circumstance. I mean last year when I came to Seattle, I was to give the Roethke Memorial reading and had worked myself into the proper state of awe...[.]

Do tell Reed to come and see us. He must have saved your heart in exile. What a difference an intelligent voice makes. Our Guadeloupe beach was restoring, but one felt stupider than the stupidest tourist—and was!

All my love,
     Cal

Lowell signed all his letters to friends as "Cal". Bishop must have mentioned that Reed was also teaching at the university in a preceding letter.

I was pleased to discover that Lowell's Letters are arranged the way a collection of correspondence should be; the credit going to the editor, Saskia Hamilton. There is a substantial appendix of notes at the end of the volume, detailing all the obscure and personal references in the letters; a list of all the manuscript collections where the letters were collected from; and a list of all the addresses Lowell lived at and wrote from. At the time, in 1966, Lowell was living at West 67th Street, New York.

I have no idea if Bishop ever passed along Lowell's invitation for a visit.



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.


Edgar Allan Poe & The Jukebox

Dumbfoundry points us to a New Yorker slide show (Flash) of poetry editor Alice Quinn discussing the release of a collection of previously unpublished Elizabeth Bishop poems, drafts, and fragments: Edgar Allan Poe & The Juke Box. The slide show is full of terrific photographs, illustrations, and revealing images of (the reluctant) Bishop's handwritten drafts. If you like, you can skip right to the end, where Quinn reads four selected poems.

«  Bishop  0  »


1529. Sackville-West, Vita. "Seething Brain." Observer (London), 5 May 1946, 3.
Vita 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.'



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)


Search:



LibraryThing


Recent tags:


Posts of note:



Archives:

Current
May 2021
February 2021
January 2021
October 2020
March 2020
January 2020
November 2019
October 2019
June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
December 2018
May 2018
April 2018
January 2018
February 2017
January 2017
October 2016
September 2016
February 2016
December 2015
August 2015
July 2015
May 2015
March 2015
December 2014
June 2014
April 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
January 2013
December 2012
October 2012
September 2012
July 2012
June 2012
April 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
July 2010
June 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
December 2004
October 2004
March 2004
January 2004
December 2003


Marginalia: