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
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Henry Reed, ca. 1960


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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:

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Weblogs, etc.


All posts for "Spender"

Reeding Lessons: the Henry Reed research blog

20.6.2021


That Night in London

...where Colin Wilson was heeling and pointing out
with flushed-to-the-eyeballs tweedy Henry Reed
naming his parts indifferently for the amusement
of oracular almost-sober Louis MacNeice
whose bagpipe gaze caught Sonia Orwell ready
to leave the guest of honor...
A poem by David Wagoner, from the Hudson Review, Summer, 2009. He seems to be describing an actual party hosted by Stephen Spender, which would have taken place on an evening in October or November of 1956, in the midst of the Hungarian Revolution. According to Wagoner's text, Cyril Connolly, John Hayward, Rose Macaulay, Herbert Read, and Allen Tate were also in attendance.

In the poem, Wagoner specifically mentions St. John's Wood as the destination, and that makes sense, as the Spenders had been living in Loudoun Road (photos on Flickr) since 1945.

On November 16, 1956, the Times printed a letter from Spender which listed the writers and artists he had garnered in support of the (ultimately lost) Hungarian cause, including Reed:

Hungary

«  Wagoner Poetry Spender  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.


Spender Defends

An excellent find in the series Poetry Criticism: in the entry for Randall Jarrell is a reprint of a 1948 review by Stephen Spender of Jarrell's collection Losses, from The Nation (1 May 1948). The collection contains many of Jarrell's famous poems which came out of his experiences in the Army Air Force during World War II, including "The Dead Wingman," "Pilots, Man Your Planes," and "Eighth Air Force."

Book jacket

Spender compares Jarrell to Robert Lowell, calling him a "modern" poet in a "certainly" American landscape; but he also compares his language to the Victorian poets:

Mr. Jarrell often reminds me of Tennyson and Browning. Or rather this will not seem strange if I quote from "Orestes at Tauris," which is a long, odd failure, merging into the language of prize poems with which the English Victorian writers once took the stage:
So he looked; and yet in all that press
At Argos or Mycenae, or in all the isles
You never saw her like: a face so fair!
She wet your hair, and smoothed it with her hands,
Water ran down your face, and it looked pale
Under those dark and darkening locks; you shook them free,
And how ghastly it looked—your pale anxious face!
This is Victorian Prize Poetry with a big V and two big P's, and to judge from Mr. Jarrell's remarks about Henry Reed when he does the same thing considerably better, I cannot believe Mr. Jarrell likes it himself.

"Considerably better!" Spender is, of course, referring to a dismissive review of Reed's A Map of Verona and Other Poems in The Nation just a month earlier, in which Jarrell compares Reed to "a nap after dinner."



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.


Remember, Remember, to Read Stephen Spender

Over at her eponymous weblog, poet and writer Carol Peters has posted a lengthy excerpt from Stephen Spender's Poetry Since 1939 (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1946). This short booklet is one of a series of British Council pamphlets on the Arts in Britain, published just after World War II, covering such subjects as ballet, films, music, painting, drama, and prose. Henry Reed wrote the volume for The Novel Since 1939, which discusses contemporary works by Woolf, Greene, Joyce, Isherwood, Graves, Orwell, Cary, Huxley, and Waugh.

The section Ms. Peters quotes, "Conditions in Which Poets Have Worked," doesn't mention Reed, but does name several of his peers, and everyone he would eventually be compared to:

Then we come to the many poets in the Forces. Some of the most talented of these were killed, notably Sidney Keyes and Alun Lewis. In quantity, the poets in the Forces produced far more work than anyone else, and, apart from the writing of distinguished poets such as Vernon Watkins, F. T. Prince, Roy Fuller, Henry Treece, Alan Rook, Keidrych Rhys, Francis Scarfe, this poetry is the most difficult to judge at the present time while we are so close to it.

Reed's bit comes along a little later, in the chapter "Poets Who Have Become Known Since 1939": 'When Henry Reed's volume is published he will take his place with F.T. Prince, Vernon Watkins, and Terence Tiller as one of the really significant younger poets.'

I'm also reminded of Fussell's Wartime: Understanding and Behavior in the Second World War (Amazon.com), which has an excellent chapter on "Reading in Wartime." (Unfortunately, Google Book Search delivers a disappointing "Image Not Available.")



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.



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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