Vol. 13 No. 19 · 10 October 1991
Henry Reed’s many friends and admirers must all be obliged to Jon Stallworthy for his concise biography of Henry (LRB, 12 September) and for ‘L’Envoi’ (LRB, 12 September). He mentions the poet’s ‘staggering memory’. Here is an example. Henry, knowing he needed some kind of psychiatric help, had read and admired the works of Melanie Klein (‘Eine Kleine Nachtmusik’ was the felicitous title, I think, of one of the Hilda Tablet radio series). When I told him, teasingly, that I was going to the theatre with her he asked to join us, and he did. After the performance she invited us back to her flat for coffee and little Viennese cakes. Almost before we were seated, Henry, a shy man, said: ‘Mrs Klein, I want to tell you how much I admire your books.’ She, who had a good sense of humour, replied, wagging a finger in amusement: ‘Young man, people are always telling me that and then I find they haven’t read my books!’ Henry then reeled off one or two misprints with page numbers. A happy evening ended with great success!