bc Henry Treece, British poet and novelist
Henry Treece (1911 - 1966)
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Thanks to Jo Robins and Sue Tredrea for this page.
Thanks to Bernie for the correction and Colin and Paul for their comments.
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Books -Alphabetical | Books - Chronological | Articles of Interest | Comments

British poet and novelist, who from 1946 until 1959 was Senior English Master at Barton on Humber Grammar School, Lincolnshire. His reputation as a writer was first made through poetry. Seven collections of his own poems were published between 1940 and 1952 (he was latterly taken up by T. S. Eliot at Faber and Faber) and with others he initiated a poetic movement known as the New Apocalypse, a reaction against the left-wing Auden group of the 1930’s and also against Surrealism. Several anthologies co-edited by Treece gave examples of the group’s work; its aims included a return to narrative poetry. But then Treece began to feel his inspiration as a poet drying up and in the 1950’s he turned to prose fiction.

The Dark Island (1952), his first novel, was a book for adults about the defeat of Carratacus by the Romans. Nine more adult novels followed. Treece began his career as a children’s writer in 1954 with Legions of the Eagle, again concerning the conflict between Romans and Celts. In this and in Treece’s other early historical novels for children there is distinct evidence of ‘writing down’; he employs the conventional, and not always plausible, device of the boy hero as observer of the historical events. The Eagles Have Flown, also published in 1954, deals with Britain after the Romans and with the supposed historical figure behind the legends of Arthur. In the same year Treece produced his first thriller for children, Desperate Journey, which was full of stereotyped villains and incidents. There were to be five more books by him in this genre, including Hunter Hunted (1957) and Don’t Expect Any Mercy (1958). All were artificial in plot but not without entertainment-value.

Treece’s development as a historical novelist for children happened swiftly, in such books as Viking’s Dawn (1955), The Road to Miklagard (1957), and Viking’s Sunset (1960), a trilogy about the adventures of the Viking Harald Sigurdson from adolescence to middle age. A second Viking trilogy, for younger readers, is formed by Hounds of the King (1955), Man with a Sword (1962), and The Last of the Vikings (1964), which follow the fortunes of Harald Hardrada. In all Treece wrote 25 historical novels for young readers in twelve years. The last was The Dream-Time (1967), the story of a Stone Age boy who does not want to be a warrior - a book which showed an enormous advance upon his early work.

His books show a preoccupation with what he called the ‘cross-roads of history’ (periods of extreme change); another recurring motif is that of a son in search of a Father-figure, which is said to have grown from Treece’s reaction to the early death of his own elder son. Besides his novels he wrote several non-fiction history books for children, and a re-telling of Njal’s Saga (1964).
The Oxford Companion to Children’s Literature Humphrey CARPENTER & Mari PRICHARD

Bibliographical information has been assembled from several sources and may not be complete.

Alphabetical

Air Force Poetry Edited by J. Pudney and H. Treece 1944
Ask for King Billy … 1955
Bang you're dead! 1966
The Black Seasons 1945
The Bombard 1959
The Bronze Sword 1965
The Burning of Njal retold by Henry Treece 1964
Carnival King: A play in three acts 1955
Castles and Kings 1959
The Children's Crusade 1958
Collected poems 1963
The Crown and the Sickle An anthology 1945
                   Hendry, James Findlay & Treece, Henry
The Crusades. [With a map.] 1962
The Crusaders 1978
The Dark Island, etc. 1952
Desperate Journey [A tale.] 1954
Don't expect any Mercy! 1958
The Dream-time 1967
Dylan Thomas. ‘Dog among the fairies.’ 1949
The Eagles have flown 1954
Electra 1963
The Exiles. [Poems.] 1952
A Fighting Man 1960
Fighting Men. How men have fought through the ages 1963
Treece, Henry & Oakeshott, Ronald Ewart
The Golden One 1961
The Golden Strangers 1956
The Great Captains (1980 introduced by Michael Moorcock) 1956
The Green Man 1966
The Haunted Garden [Poems.] 1947
Herbert Read: An introduction to his work by various hands. 1944 [With a portrait and a bibliography.] Edited by H. Treece
Horned Helmet 1963
Hounds of the King (With two radio plays by the author, 1965) 1955
How I See Apocalypse [With a portrait.] 1946
Hunter hunted 1957
I Cannot go Hunting Tomorrow. Short stories. 1946
The invaders 1979
Invitation and Warning. [Verse.] 1942
Jason. 1961
The Jet Bead 1961
A New Romantic Anthology. 1949
Edited by Stefan Schimanski and Henry Treece
Know about the Crusades [With illustrations, including a map.] 1963
The Last of the Vikings 1964
Leaves in the Storm. A book of diaries. 1947 Edited with a running commentary by S. Schimanski and H. Treece
Legions of the Eagle 1954
A Map of Hearts. [Tales.] 1944 Edited by S. Schimanski and H. Treece
Man with a Sword 1962
Men of the Hills 1957
Oedipus 1964
The Rebels 1953
Red Queen, White Queen 1958
Red Settlement 1960
The Return of Robinson Crusoe 1958
The Road to Miklagard 1957
Selected Poems: SWINBURNE, Algernon Charles 1948 Edited with an introduction by Henry Treece
Splintered Sword 1965
Swords from the North 1978
38 Poems. 1940
Transformation. (Transformation two [etc.].) (Prose ... Poetry ... Plays) 1943 Edited by Stefan Schimanski and Henry Treece
Transformation Library. General editors: S. Schimanski and H. Treece 1947
The True Books about Castles 1959
Viking’s Dawn 1955
Viking’s Sunset 1960
Vinland the good; decorations by William Stobbs, map by Richard Treece 1967
War Dog 1962
Wartime Harvest. An anthology of prose and verse 1943 Schimanski, Stefan K. & Treece,Henry
The White Horseman. Prose and verse of the new apocalypse. 1941 Edited by J. F. Hendry and Henry Treece.
[With an introduction by G. S. Fraser.]
Wickham and the Armada 1959
The windswept city. 1967

Chronological

1940 38 Poems.
1941 The White Horseman. Prose and verse of the new apocalypse. Edited by J. F. Hendry and Henry Treece. [With an introduction by G. S. Fraser.]
1942 Invitation and Warning. [Verse.]
1943 Transformation. (Transformation two [etc.].) (Prose ... Poetry ... Plays) Edited by Stefan Schimanski and Henry Treece
1943 Wartime Harvest. An anthology of prose and verse Schimanski, Stefan K. & Treece,Henry
1944 Air Force Poetry Edited by J. Pudney and H. Treece
1944 Herbert Read: An introduction to his work by various hands. Edited by H. Treece   [With a portrait and a bibliography.]
1944 A Map of Hearts. [Tales.] Edited by S. Schimanski and H. Treece
1945 The Black Seasons
1945 The Crown and the Sickle An anthology Hendry, James Findlay & Treece, Henry
1946 How I See Apocalypse [With a portrait.]
1946 I Cannot go Hunting Tomorrow. Short stories.
1947 The Haunted Garden [Poems.]
1947 Leaves in the Storm. A book of diaries. Edited with a running commentary by S. Schimanski and H. Treece
1947 Transformation Library. General editors: S. Schimanski and H. Treece
1948 Selected Poems: Swinburne, Algernon Charles Edited with an introduction by Henry Treece
1949 Dylan Thomas. ‘Dog among the fairies.'
1949 A New Romantic Anthology. Edited by Stefan Schimanski and Henry Treece
1952 The Dark Island, etc.
1952 The Exiles. [Poems.]
1953 The Rebels
1954 Desperate Journey [A tale.]
1954 The Eagles have flown
1954 Legions of the Eagle
1955 Ask for King Billy …
1955 Carnival King: A play in three acts
1955 Hounds of the King (With two radio plays by the author, 1965)
1955 Viking’s Dawn
1956 The Golden Strangers
1956 The Great Captains (1980 introduced by Michael Moorcock)
1957 Hunter hunted
1957 Men of the Hills
1957 The Road to Miklagard
1958 The Children's Crusade
1958 Don't expect any Mercy!
1958 Red Queen, White Queen
1958 The Return of Robinson Crusoe
1959 The Bombard
1959 Castles and Kings
1959 The True Books about Castles
1959 Wickham and the Armada
1960 A Fighting Man
1960 Red Settlement
1960 Viking’s Sunset
1961 The Golden One
1961 Jason.
1961 The Jet Bead
1962 The Crusades. [With a map.]
1962 Man with a Sword
1962 War Dog
1963 Collected poems
1963 Electra
1963 Fighting Men. How men have fought through the ages TREECE, Henry & OAKESHOTT, Ronald Ewart

1963 Horned Helmet
1963 Know about the Crusades [With illustrations, including a map.]
1964 The Burning of Njal retold by Henry Treece
1964 The Last of the Vikings
1964 Oedipus
1965 The Bronze Sword
1965 Splintered Sword
1966 Bang you're dead!
1966 The Green Man
1967 The Dream-time
1967 Vinland the good; decorations by William Stobbs, map by Richard Treece
1967 The windswept city.
1978 The Crusaders
1978 Swords from the North
1979 The invaders

Articles of Interest

Picture Post, 19th August 1950 V.48, #8, page 20. Henry Treece wrote a moving tribute to his friend, PP Correspondent Stephen Simmons (r.n. Stefan Schimanski), who was killed when his transport plane exploded while on its way from Tokyo to Korea, July 27.

Comments

Henry Treece POET
27/11/07 8:11:11 AUS Eastern Daylight Time
From: Colin Kirk
I read your entry on Treece with great interest. You say he turned to novels because he realised his poetic inspiration was finished. What a boon if other poets had noticed the same happen to them. From Wordsworth on brilliant young poets have matured into unpoetic tedium but stuck at it. / But you don't investigate Treece's poetry. Forget about the Apocalyptic movement. Dylan Thomas' judgement was sound on that score. Just read Treece's poety. The two volumes Faber published whilst Eliot was in charge are probably the best poetry written in the twentieth century. A reference to the excellence of his poetry, with an example or two, would greatly enhance your entry. / None of his prose approaches the quality of his poetry, although some of it DARK ISLAND and ELECTRA say can be ranked with the best of the novels written on GREEK MYTHS and WHITE GODDESS themes after Graves provided the material. Most of them are better than Graves own contributions but WHITE GODDESS, another of Eliot's choices for publication, is far better than any of the derivatives by anyone, Mary Renault included.

Date: 17/12/08 5:01:28 AUS Eastern Daylight Time
From: Paul.Cain
Thank you for giving recognition to the favourite author of my childhood. I loved his books. / One correction, however; Hounds of the King (1955), Man with a Sword (1962), and The Last of the Vikings are not a trilogy about Harald Hardrada. / Hounds of the King is a tale about a young man who joins King Harold II's house carles, just before the fateful year of 1066. Man with a Sword is a tale about Hereward, though Hardrada features prominently in it. / Both these books, along with Swords from the North, are my firm favourites of Treece's work. The importance of friendship and loyalty even when requiring bitter sacrifice, is a prominent and recurring theme which runs throughout all of them. / Interestingly, Hounds of the King is the only Treece book where Harold II portrayed positively. In most other works, such as Man with a Sword, he and the Godwin family in general are peripheral characters, mentioned only in light of their treachery and deceit. I have always wondered why Treece regularly painted such a negative picture of this very English King.

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