Biography of Henry Treece
Henry Treece was a British poet and writer, who worked also as a teacher and editor. He wrote a range of works, but became mainly remembered as a writer of juvenile historical novels.
Life and work
Treece was born in Wednesbury, Staffordshire, and graduated from the University of Birmingham in 1933. He went into teaching, first at Tynemouth School. In 1939 he married Mary Woodman and settled in Lincolnshire as a teacher at Barton-upon-Humber Grammar School. Their son, Richard Treece, became a musician with Help Yourself and other rock bands.
His five volumes of poetry were: 38 Poems (London: Fortune Press, ), then by Faber & Faber; Invitation and Warning 1942; The Black Seasons 1945; The Haunted Garden 1947; and The Exiles 1952. He appeared in the 1949 The New British Poets: an anthology edited by Kenneth Rexroth; but from 1952 with The Dark Island he devoted himself to fiction. His best known are his juvenile historical novels, particularly those set in the Viking period, although he also wrote some adult historical novels. Many of his novels are set in transitional periods in history, where more primitive societies are forced to face modernisation, e.g. the end of the Viking period, or the Roman conquest of Britain. His play Carnival King (Faber & Faber) was produced at Nottingham Playhouse in 1953. He also worked as a radio broadcaster.
In World War II he served as an intelligence officer in the RAF and helped John Pudney edit Air Force Poetry.
Other poetry anthologies he was involved with include The New Apocalypse (1939) with J. F. Hendry giving its name to a movement; two further anthologies with Hendry followed. He wrote a critical study of Dylan Thomas, called Dylan Thomas - Dog among the fairies published by Lindsay Drummond, London in 1949. He and Thomas became estranged over Thomas's refusal to sign up as a New Apocalyptic.
He also wrote Conquerors in 1932, as a way to reflect on the horrors of war.
He edited issues of Transformation, and A New Romantic Anthology (1949) with Stefan Schimanski, issues of Kingdom Come: The Magazine of War-Time Oxford with Schimanski and Alan Rook, as well as War-Time Harvest. How I See Apocalypse (London, Lindsay Drummond, 1946) was a retrospective statement.
Henry Treece's Works:
38 Poems (1940)
The White Horseman: prose and verse of the new apocalypse (1941) (edited with J. F. Hendry)
Invitation and Warning (1942) (verse)
Transformation. (Transformation two [etc.].) (1943) (Prose ... Poetry ... Plays) (edited with Stefan K. Schimanski)
Wartime Harvest:an anthology of prose and verse (1943) (edited with Stefan K. Schimanski)
Air Force Poetry (1944) (edited with John Pudney)
Herbert Read: an introduction to his work by various hands (1944) (edited)
A Map of Hearts (1944) (tales) (edited with Stefan K. Schimanski)
The Black Seasons (1945) (poems)
The Crown and the Sickle: an anthology (1945) (with J. F. Hendry)
How I See Apocalypse (1946)
I Cannot go Hunting Tomorrow. 1946) (short stories)
The Haunted Garden (1947 (poems)
Leaves in the Storm (1947) (book of diaries) (edited with Stefan K. Schimanski and with a running commentary)
Transformation Library. (1947) (general editor with Stefan K. Schimanski)
Selected Poems (1948) (edited by Algernon Charles, with an introduction by Henry Treece)
Dylan Thomas. ‘Dog among the fairies.' (1949)
A New Romantic Anthology (1949) (edited with Stefan K. Schimanski)
The Exiles (1952) (poems)
The Rebels (1953) (novel)
Desperate Journey (1954) (A tale)
The Eagles Have Flown (1954) (novel)
Legions of the Eagle (1954) (novel set in the Roman conquest of Britain)
Ask for King Billy (1955) (novel)
Carnival King: A play in three acts (1955) (play)
Hounds of the King (1955) (with two radio plays by the author, 1965 edition)
Viking's Dawn (1955) (1st in the Viking Trilogy)
Hunter Hunted (1957) (novel)
Men of the Hills (1957) (novel)
The Road to Miklagard (1957) (2nd in the Viking Trilogy)
The Children's Crusade (1958) (novel)
Don't Expect Any Mercy! (1958) (novel)
The Return of Robinson Crusoe (1958) (novel)
Ride into Danger (1959) (novel)
The Bombard (1959) (novel)
Castles and Kings (1959)
The True Books about Castles (1959)
Wickham and the Armada (1959) (novel)
A Fighting Man (1960)
Red Settlement (1960)
Viking's Sunset (1960) (3rd in the Viking Trilogy)
The Golden One (1961)
The Jet Bead (1961) (novel)
The Crusades (1962)
Man with a Sword (1962) (novel about Hereward the Wake) (decorations by William Stobbs)
War Dog (1962) (novel)
Collected poems (1963)
Fighting Men: how men have fought through the ages (1963) (with Ronald Ewart Oakeshott)
Horned Helmet (1963) (novel about the Jomsvikings)
Know about the Crusades (1963)
The Burning of Njal (1964) (novel) (retold by Henry Treece)
The Last of the Vikings (1964) (novel about Harold Hardrada)
The Bronze Sword (1965) (novel)
Splintered Sword (1965) (novel)
Killer in Dark Glasses (1965) (novel)
Swords from the North (1966) (novel)
Bang You're Dead! (1966) (novel)
The Queen's Brooch (1966) (novel set during Boudicca's rebellion)
The Dream Time (1967) (novel)
Vinland the Good (1967) (novel) (decorations by William Stobbs, map by Richard Treece)
The Windswept City (1967) (novel set in the Trojan War)
The Crusades: two hundred years of war, sacred journeys and the quest for loot (1978)
Adult historical fiction
1) The Golden Strangers (1956); titled The Invaders in the U.S.), about the arrival of the Celts in Britain
2) The Dark Island (1952); titled The Savage Warriors in the U.S.), about the defeat of Caratacus by the Romans after their invasion of Britain
3) Red Queen, White Queen (1958); titled The Pagan Queen in the U.S.), about Boudica and the rebellion she led against Rome, as told by a young Roman Imperial agent
4) The Great Captains (1956), a realistic story of King Arthur and the struggle of Celtic Britain to survive after the departure of the Romans
Trilogy set in Mycenaean Greece, based on legendary characters
Electra (also spelt Elektra for some editions)- US title The Amber Princess (1963)
Oedipus --US title The Eagle King (1964)
The Green Man (1966) A reworking of "Amleth's Vengeance" from the "Gesta Danorum" of Saxo Grammaticus (the basis for Shakespeare's tragedy, Hamlet). Set in 6th century Jutland, Duke Arthur's Britain and Scotland. Contains fantasy elements
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Henry Treece Poems
Lincolnshire Bomber Station
Across the road the homesick Romans made The ground-mist thickens to a milky shroud; Through flat, damp fields call sheep, mourning their dead In cracked and timeless voices, unutterably sad,
Poem - Iii
Through the dark aisles of the wood Where the pine-needles deaden all sound And the dove flutters in the black boughs
The Haunted Garden
In this sad place Memory hangs on the air Fragile as Spring snail's tiny shell, Coming to the sympathetic ear
Poem - I
In the dark caverns of the night, Loveless and alone, Friendless as wind that wails across the plains, I sit, the last man left on earth,
Poem - Ii
Death walks through the mind's dark woods, Beautiful as aconite, A lily-flower in his pale hand And eyes like moonstones burning bright.
The Waiting Watchers
They shall come in the black weathers From the heart of the dead embers, Walking one and two over the hill.
In that stone head, obscenity Has been preserved a thousand years; A bible-leaf of families Have shuddered at the pointed ears.
The Old Ones
The old ones knew that black was hate, White garment purity and red one sin; They spoke the language of the trees And opened veins to let love in.
The bells of memory sound this summer day Down the long alleys of the blue-skied years; Shy cowslip, thyme, the haunting scent of hay, Pleached gardens nourished by a lover's tears,
How do I love you then? Till stone unfold his nature, and Funereal rook his language, Tongue dumb as bell unclappered
Distance nor death shall part us, dear, Nor yet the traitor word; And love shall live within our home As blithe as any bird.
Let us go out in the rain, love, And keep these memories clean; Then stand beneath the sheltering eave To fall in love with the moon.
Between the muscle and the hammer-head, The liquor and the veinous leaf it feeds; Between the vision and the throne of God, The promise and the stillborn shrouded words;
Tears Are Two Small
Tears are too small a sign of grief, My love, oh my sweet love! A child will cry himself to sleep As though his golden heart would break,
Poem - I
In the dark caverns of the night,
Loveless and alone,
Friendless as wind that wails across the plains,
I sit, the last man left on earth,
Putting my fear on paper,
Praying that love will flow from my dry pen
And watching the tears make havoc on my page.
And I remember then,