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



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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All posts for "Joyce"

Reeding Lessons: the Henry Reed research blog


James Joyce: The Triple Exile

I waited and waited for Bloomsday this spring, and then suddenly, when I finally noticed, it had already blown past and summer was hotly breathing on my windowpane. Better later than never, for what it's worth, I have a couple of posts on James Joyce. From the midst of my stay-cation, I bring you a terrible picture of Joyce:

James Joyce

At 10:30 pm on February 28, 1950, Henry Reed gave a fifteen-minute talk on the BBC Home Service, the eighth and final part of a series on "The English Novel." This talk, "James Joyce: The Triple Exile," was published in the next Listener, on March 9. Reed has condensed some ideas he first put forth in 1947, in a long essay for the journal Orion (I'll save that for another entry). Joyce, Reed says, has written from triple exile: exile from Dublin, from the Catholic church, and from 'the banishment of the heart.' This third being from one's family; exile from our parents, and eventually from our own children.

The talk touches on Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and Reed calls Finnegan's Wake Joyce's greatest work, but he lingers a long time describing Ulysses' themes, style, and influence on the English novel:

You will find much Joyce, variously sophisticated, debased or vulgarised in the work of Aldous Huxley, Graham Greene, Henry Green, Elizabeth Bowen, Joyce Cary and countless others. They have never made good use of him; good use of him can possibly not be made. They have approached the great barrier, fecklessly snatched what they can and made off back. They have made off back to the past; they have not got over into the future. And so it is that in reading so many modern novelists you get the feeling of a pathetic retrogression and the inevitable afterthought that what they do has been better done already. Modern novelists—I can only speak of England—are desperately engaged in mopping-up operations; and they are often put to ill-considered stratagems in order to ginger a little originality or life into these operations: hence, I suppose, the crude religion so often draped along the top of modern fictions; hence the sadism and the dirty sexuality; hence also perhaps the curious ruse of writing about children; and, most alarming of all, the frank, crude, comprehensive ambitions of those novelists who avoid the analytical only to attempt the synthetic: who promise us a bastardisation of Kafka, or who threaten to do for our time what Dostoevsky or Balzac did for theirs.

The photograph of Joyce accompanying the article (above) is interesting—while my scan from the photocopy is terrible—because I cannot find a copy of it online. Which, of course, I had assumed would be easy enough. The caption states it is taken from the James Joyce Yearbook (Paris, 1949), and that it was taken circa 1932, by Boris Lipnitzki (1887-1971). There's another portrait of Joyce by Lipnitzki on the Joycean.org media page, but it's not this particular photo. I'll have to see if I can make a better copy. Update: Slightly better copy!

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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.

Lights Out, Uh-huh

I find myself gloriously and unexpectedly free today. The library where I work has just begun an expansion project, and today is our first construction-assisted, paid vacation day. Somebody cut an utility line, and the power company had to disconnect the library from the grid to keep us from asploding, and to begin repairs. Hooray! A no-snow snowday in May! I have (almost) no idea what to do with myself.

Since the initial de-electrification happened yesterday afternoon (unelectrification? diselectrification?), I suspected this might happen, and I rose early today to prepare. Not only did I need to make frantic phonecalls to wave off my staff before they left for work ("Abort! Abort!"), but I had hopes I'd be able to visit the university's Rare Books collection (which is on main campus and still has electricity).

So, having learned my lesson with a previous visit to a library's Special Collections, I packed everything: laptop, digital camera, and pencils of varying weights and eraser-heights. Loaded for bear, I waited patiently for the doors to open, and found myself all alone, with the entire Rare Books collection at my beck (and call), and the whole staff to take care of me, just me, at nine a.m.

These last few nights after work I've been flipping through small press literary magazines from wartime Britain, searching for Henry Reed's name in Tables of Contents, with no results. (Not surprisingly.)

Kingdom Come: The Magazine of Wartime Oxford, is in Rare Books. The very nice staff brought me the collection's entire run, about seven issues from the years 1939-1943. The magazine started out very tiny, printed on fine paper in a format not much bigger than your palm, and then soon blossomed into a large magazine-sized rag, with bright, primary-colored covers: red, green, blue.

Inside, there were all the names I've grown familiar with: Spender, Read, Treece, Heppenstall. But no Henry. I resolved myself to merely requesting a photocopy of the poem "King Mark," from another journal, Orion: A Miscellany, edited by Rosamond Lehmann.

The unbound periodicals and journals in Rare Books are tied together with a sort of ribbon, soft and velvety, acid-free. This keeps all the issues together in pile. So when the staff fetched the volume I requested (1945), I actually got the pile of four volumes. After slipping bookmarks into the pages I needed in the '45, and filling out a photocopy request form, I peeked at the other three volumes.

There, in Orion 4, Autumn 1947, was a fifteen-page Henry Reed article on James Joyce: "Joyce's Progress." Lightning bolt! Thunderstruck!

The length of the article ruled out transcribing it into Notepad (as do my typing skills), but now I must wait a week to ten days for a photocopy. The semester's almost over, and there's no student help to do the grunt work. Rare Books will take digital images for you, but they won't allow you to use your own camera, drat.

And I forgot to look for an "About the Contributers" page!

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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)



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