John O. Reed

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John O. Reed (1929 London - 2012 Manchester) was an anthologist and translator of African literature.[1][2]

With Clive Wake he published several anthologies, as well as translations from French of the work of Léopold Sédar Senghor and Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo, in Heinemann's African Writers Series. He also translated work by Ferdinand Oyono. Together, they also translated some of the poetry of Yves Bonnefoy in 1967, but these translations were never published. Posthumously, Wake published their introductory essay to these translations online[3] in tribute.

John Reed made a journal entry every day of his life in his diaries (now held at Chetham’s Library, Manchester[4]) from the age of ten until his death in 2012. For the first years of his life, they offer an insight into the life of a schoolboy during World War Two. After school, Reed recorded the daily details of his National Service. On his discharge, he studied English at Oxford under C.S. Lewis. However, it is his life as a university lecturer in Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) that is perhaps of greatest interest. In 1957 he travelled to Salisbury to take up a teaching post, soon becoming involved in the anti-colonial political struggle, and developing a close friendship with Terence Ranger. The diaries offer a unique insight into the daily lives of those involved in the Liberation movement, and reveal how he was drawn deeper and deeper into what would become a very dark and dangerous situation. He was later forced to leave Rhodesia or face arrest, and took up a professorship at the University of Zambia at Lusaka. There he worked to develop theatre which drew on indigenous traditions and promoted the growth of a new generation of African dramatists.

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