by Sukey HowardJune, 2002
In 1952, two young New York women, just out of college, started Caedmon records and, in effect, launched the commercial spoken word recording industry. Now a division of HarperAudio, Caedmon is still "putting great voices to great books" and still going strong. Dylan Thomas read five of his poems and A Child's Christmas in Wales for the very first Caedmon recording. It was a smashing success and remains one still. To mark its 50th anniversary, Caedmon has released Dylan Thomas: The Caedmon Collection, introduced by U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins, which includes the original Caedmon recordings as well as recordings from the BBC and CBC. This spring also sees the re-release of The Arthur Miller Audio Collection (CD only) and a new production of Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio read by great authors including Richard Ford, Amy Bloom and Richard Russo, among others. Plans are in the works to reissue the best of the best of the Caedmon backlist every season, with many on redigitalized CDs, and to continue the Caedmon credo with new recordings of contemporary classics. Nikki Giovanni, for example, will record her new book of poetry this December.
If you've caught the Hobbit habit, rest assured that you won't get withdrawal symptoms while waiting for the next blockbuster movie to hit theaters. Highbridge Audio has reissued all three parts of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King on CD for $19.95 each, in fully dramatized American productions, with new packaging by John Howe. And don't forget The Hobbit, the magical prelude to this transcendent trilogy.