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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.

Read "Naming of Parts."

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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.
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.


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Reeding Lessons: the Henry Reed research blog

17.11.2017


Reed on Modern Verse Drama

Before he went off to war, before he ever got mixed up with the BBC writing radio scripts, Henry Reed was in theatre. Not only did he take part in student productions at the University of Birmingham, but he was involved with local theatre in his hometown of Erdington, writing (and surely acting) for the Highbury Players, before they even had a proper theatre in which to perform (see "The Miser in the Church House," previously).

Now, here's something interesting! In Drama: The Quarterly Theatre Review, the "Newsletters" section quotes from the Highbury Bulletin, the magazine of the Highbury Players:

Snippet
Snippet

Pasted back together, the complete paragraph reads:

The Highbury Bulletin for July notes the Theatre's Third Conference with its interesting addresses by Professor Allardyce Nicoll on "America's Contribution to the Theatre," by Robert de Smet on "The Theatre in Europe during the Occupation," by Arthur Vassjelo of the British Film Institute on "The Theatre and the Cinema," by Louis MacNeice on "Radio and the Theatre," by Henry Reed on "Modern Verse Drama," by Michael MacOwen on "The State and the Theatre," and by Dr. L. Du Garde Peach. William Armstrong presided.

The Drama article is from sometime between 1946 and 1949 (issues 1-15), but we can narrow it down to summer 1946 or 1947, in all likelihood. It's an impressive marquee of headliners. MacNeice would have been fresh off The Dark Tower, up from London to lecture on radio and the theatre. Reed was staying at Lovell's Farm in Marnhull at the time, working on his radio adaptation of Moby Dick. Professor Nicoll founded the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon, and Lawrence Du Garde Peach was a stage and film writer, known also for authoring a series of history books for children under the Ladybird imprint.

The first Highbury Little Theatre on Sheffield Road, Sutton Coldfield, was completed in 1942, replacing a former mission hut. Expansion and a major refurbishing went on during the 1980s and '90s, creating a community arts centre, the Highbury Theatre Centre.

«  Highbury MacNeice  0  »


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.'


The Miser in the Church House

In 1933, a small theatre group in Birmingham, England, staged a production of Molière's L'Avare (The Miser) at the Church House, High Street, Erdington (pictured here). The company called themselves after the name of the house where they rehearsed: The Highbury Players. They had begun in 1924 as an artistic branch of the local Independent Labour Party, originally meeting to read stage plays aloud, but eventually forming the Highbury Little Theatre.

Highbury Little Theatre

An excerpt from the book Highbury Little Theatre: A Beginning, written in 1946, describes the early efforts of the organization after their first play in 1925:

In the next twelve years the work undertaken included the following full length plays: Conflict, Much Ado about Nothing, Pygmalion, Heartbreak House, The Show, The Roof, Escape, The Skin Game, A Hundred Years Old, Pleasure Garden, Othello, The Circle of Chalk, The Sleeping Clergyman, and L'Avare in a new English translation by John English and Henry Reed—this was in 1932.

Mr. John English, OBE, one of the original members of the group, would go on to become a trustee of the Highbury Theatre Centre, and would help found the Midland Arts Centre.

There can be little doubt that the Highbury Players' co-translator of Molière's L'Avare was our Henry: the odds of coincidence are just too great. Henry Reed was born and raised in Erdington, was a vocal Socialist, and concentrated on French (and Latin) throughout his education, from King Edward VI Grammar School, all the way through his years at the University at Birmingham, which happen to coincide with the play's production.



1512. Reed, Henry. "The Case for Maigret." Reviews of Maigret Hesitates and The Man on the Bench in the Barn, by Georges Simenon. Sunday Times (London), 2 August 1970: 22.
Reed reviews two translations of George Simenon's fiction.



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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