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Henry Reed, 12 September 1991

... They told him, with reassurance: ‘You must turn over a new leaf.’ Ever submissive and grateful, he did so and then said: ‘Look! This brings me to the last page in the book. And the pages have been so thin I can clearly see The earlier words that a week ago were me.’ He explains this simple fact. And they agree. ‘Then tear the whole sheet out ...

Psychological Warfare

Henry Reed, 21 March 1991

... This above all remember: they will be very brave men, And you will be facing them. You must not despise them. I am, as you know, like all true professional soldiers, A profoundly religious man: the true soldier has to be. And I therefore believe the war will be over by Easter Monday. But I must in fairness state that a number of my brother-officers, No less religious than I, believe it will hold out till Whitsun ...

A Life of Henry Reed

Jon Stallworthy, 12 September 1991

... poet. The publication of his collected poems will give the lie to that gross misperception. Henry Reed was born, in Birmingham, on 22 February 1914 and named after his father, a master bricklayer and foreman in charge of forcing at Nocks’ Brickworks. Henry senior was nothing if not forceful, a serious drinker ...

Part and Pasture

Frank Kermode, 5 December 1991

Collected Poems 
by Henry Reed, edited with an introduction by Jon Stallworthy.
Oxford, 166 pp., £20, October 1991, 0 19 212298 3
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... Henry Reed was a sad man but a funny man, and his poems are funny or sad – often, as in the celebrated ‘Lessons of the War’, both at once. I first met him in 1965, in the office of Robert Heilman, then the benevolent but firm head of the English Department at the University of Washington in Seattle. Calling to present my credentials, I walked into a row; Heilman benevolently firm, Reed furious, licensed to be furious ...

Third World

Frank Kermode, 2 March 1989

... We learn that Rayner Heppenstall as a Features producer could call Angus Wilson, Henry Reed, Laurie Lee and Muriel Spark ‘exclusively mine’, and there were staff stars like Louis MacNeice and W.R. Rodgers (stars at the bar of the George as well as in Broadcasting House). It was in some ways a clique, but a distinguished one. Who ...

Rise and Fall of Radio Features

Marilyn Butler, 7 August 1980

Louis MacNeice in the BBC 
by Barbara Coulton.
Faber, 215 pp., £12.50, May 1980, 0 571 11537 3
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Best Radio Plays of 1979 
Eyre Methuen/BBC, 192 pp., £6.95, June 1980, 0 413 47130 6Show More
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... actor and a voice as well as a writer. A guest list for a Features party planned in 1951 included Henry Reed, Lawrence Durrell. Christopher Fry, C. Day Lewis, Lennox Berkeley, Michael Tippett, William Walton, Laurie Lee and Stevie Smith. Until the early Fifties the BBC appeared to get a good return from its policy of patronising highbrow talent. From the ...


Ian Hamilton, 28 September 1989

Wartime: Understanding and Behaviour in the Second World War 
by Paul Fussell.
Oxford, 330 pp., £15, September 1989, 0 19 503797 9
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War like a Wasp: The Lost Decade of the Forties 
by Andrew Sinclair.
Hamish Hamilton, 312 pp., £17.95, October 1989, 0 241 12531 6
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... the front-liners who actually lived through or died in that ‘abyss of blood and darkness’ (Henry James). In one of his most telling sequences, Fussell reported on a visit to the Somme. Finding it, in the early Seventies, ‘a peaceful but sullen place, un-forgetting and unforgiving’, he tried to conjure some picture of what it might have been ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: The films of Carol Reed, 19 October 2006

Odd Man Out 
directed by Carol Reed.
September 2006
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... is Odd Man Out (1947), reshown at this year’s Edinburgh Festival as part of a tribute to Carol Reed in the year of his centenary (he died in 1976). The NFT recently screened a new print of The Fallen Idol (1948) and a good selection of Reed’s other films for the same reason. Odd Man Out does make you think of an ending ...

The Style It Takes

Mark Ford: John Cale, 16 September 1999

What’s Welsh for Zen? The Autobiography of John Cale 
by Victor Bockris.
Bloomsbury, 272 pp., £20, January 1999, 0 7475 3668 6
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... sessions, although it seems no live recordings survive from their heyday – that is, before Lou Reed kicked John Cale out of the band, ending three years of almost symbiotic closeness. John Cale was born in the small Welsh coal town of Garnant, between Swansea and Carmarthen, in 1942. His father was a miner; his mother had worked in primary education until ...

Catacomb Graffiti

Clive James, 20 December 1979

Poems and Journeys 
by Charles Johnston.
Bodley Head, 97 pp., £3.90
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Eugene Onegin 
by Alexander Pushkin, translated by Charles Johnston.
Penguin Classics, 238 pp., £1.50
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... This, too, ranks high among poems of the war. On its own it would be enough to class Johnston with Henry Reed, Bernard Spencer, F.T. Prince and Norman Cameron. It is a high-quality example of what can by now be seen to be a particular school of Virgilian plangency, the poetry of the broken-hearted fields. But it is probably not one of Johnston’s best ...

The Right Kind of Pain

Mark Greif: The Velvet Underground, 22 March 2007

The Velvet Underground 
by Richard Witts.
Equinox, 171 pp., £10.99, September 2006, 9781904768272
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... and interviewer at one time or another (for Radio 3) of all the principals in the band except Lou Reed, could just as easily have produced a fan letter or a recitation of myths. Instead, he manages to defamiliarise the band and its career, while communicating all the necessary information. This is the true double task of the pop critic-historian, and Witts ...

Love in the Ruins

Nicolas Tredell, 8 October 1992

Out of the Rain 
by Glyn Maxwell.
Bloodaxe, 112 pp., £6.95, June 1992, 1 85224 193 4
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Body Politic 
by Tony Flynn.
Bloodaxe, 60 pp., £5.95, June 1992, 1 85224 129 2
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by Linda France.
Bloodaxe, 80 pp., £5.95, June 1992, 1 85224 178 0
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Red-Haired Android 
by Jeremy Reed.
Grafton, 280 pp., £7.99, July 1992, 9780586091845
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by Peter Robinson, with an essay by Peter Swaab.
Robert Jones, 36 pp., £9.95, July 1992, 0 9514240 2 5
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... In Henry James’s The Golden Bowl, the Prince found by the River Thames ‘a more convincing image of the truth of the ancient state than any they have left by the Tiber’. Of course, the truth of the ancient state, like the truth of the British state at the turn of the 19th century, was not necessarily a wholly savoury one ...

The Judges’ Verdicts

Stephen Sedley, 2 February 2017

... in the hierarchy of domestic law sources.This looks pretty impregnable until you turn to Lord Reed’s dissenting judgment. Standing by the principle of parliamentary supremacy, Reed argues that what Parliament enacted in and after 1972is inherently conditional … on the UK’s membership of the EU. The Act imposes no ...


Christopher Hitchens: Men (and Women) of the Year, 14 December 1995

... by Barbara Walters. The ‘humanitarian’ award goes to Diana Spencer and will be presented by Henry Kissinger. In other words, a single well-placed grenade could remove the whole beating heart of the international celebrity industry, along with its most servile and deferential interviewer and promoter: Barbara Walters, doyenne of drool and sultana of ...

Dame Cissie

Penelope Fitzgerald, 12 November 1987

Rebecca West: A Life 
by Victoria Glendinning.
Weidenfeld, 288 pp., £14.95, April 1987, 0 297 79084 6
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Family Memories 
by Rebecca West and Faith Evans.
Virago, 255 pp., £14.95, November 1987, 0 86068 741 4
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... on a Russian tutor – though he has become a Russian count. Isabelle, the heroine of The Thinking Reed, is young, exceedingly beautiful, ‘nearly exceedingly rich’, tragically widowed. She hunts the wild boar, her underwear is made to measure, her first lover ‘was not less beautiful as a man than she was as a woman’. As a novelist, Rebecca West liked ...

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