The Private Life Of Hilda Tablet By Henry Reed 24.5.54
The Private Life Of Hilda Tablet By Henry Reed 24.5.54

These plays of 1947 to 1955 form a group, which is overlapped in time by another and seemingly very different group of pieces written between 1951 and 1959: A By-Election in the Nineties, A Very Great Man Indeed, The Private Life of Hilda Tablet, Emily Butter, A Hedge, Backwards, The Primal Scene, As It Were..., Not A Drum Was Heard, and Musique Discrète.

A By-Election in the Nineties, a study of Realpolitik in Victorian Wessex, has an impish mood in common with the others, but is set apart from them by its period.

The others, from a Very Great Man Indeed to Musique Discrète, form a cycle — dramatic roman fleuve cum highbrow soap opera — although they were not at first planned as such.

12 The cycle is set in the 1950s, presupposes a great late-lamented novelist Richard Shewin (rhyming with 'go in'), and presents the circle of his surviving friends and relations.

The relations comprise a widowed sister-in-law Nancy (mother to a large brood of pop-musical sons and one Scrutiny-reading daughter), a hugely self-pitying and Freud-fancying brother Stephen, Stephen's cat-