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Henry Reed


  Male      British      Poet

  Born : Feb 22, 1914  -
  Died : Dec 08, 1986


About Author

Henry Reed (22 February 1914 – 8 December 1986) was a British poet, translator, radio dramatist and journalist.

Reed was born in Birmingham and educated at King Edward VI School, Aston, followed by the University of Birmingham. At university he associated with W. H. Auden, Louis MacNeice and Walter Allen. He went on to study for an MA and then worked as a teacher and journalist. He was called up to the Army in 1941, spending most of the war as a Japanese translator. Although he had studied French and Italian at university and taught himself Greek at school, Reed did not take to Japanese, perhaps because he had learned an almost entirely military vocabulary. Walter Allen, in his autobiography As I Walked down New Grub Street, quoted Reed as saying "He intended...to devote every day for the rest of his life to forgetting another word of Japanese."

After the war he worked for the BBC as a radio broadcaster, translator and playwright, where his most memorable set of productions was the Hilda Tablet series in the 1950s, produced by Douglas Cleverdon. The series started with A Very Great Man Indeed, which purported to be a documentary about the research for a biography of a dead poet and novelist called Richard Shewin. This drew in part on Reed's own experience of researching a biography of the novelist Thomas Hardy. However, the 'twelve-tone composeress' Hilda Tablet, a friend of Richard Shewin, became the most interesting character in the play; and in the next play, she persuades the biographer to change the subject of the biography to her - telling him "not more than twelve volumes". Dame Hilda, as she later became, was based partly on Ethel Smyth and partly on Elisabeth Lutyens (who was not pleased, and considered legal action)...


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