Mytholmroyd, Yorkshire, England
Profile Bio Text
Edward James "Ted" Hughes, OM (17 August 1930 – 28 October 1998) was an English poet and children's writer. Critics routinely rank him as one of the best poets of his generation. Hughes was British Poet Laureate from 1984 until his death.
Hughes was married to American poet Sylvia Plath, from 1956 until her suicide in 1963 at the age of 30. His part in the relationship became controversial to some feminists and (particularly) American admirers of Plath. His last poetic work, Birthday Letters (1998), explored their complex relationship. These poems make reference to Plath's suicide, but none of them addresses directly the circumstances of her death. A poem discovered in October 2010, Last letter, describes what happened during the three days leading up to Plath's suicide.
In 2008 The Times ranked Hughes fourth on their list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945".
Hughes was born on 17 August 1930 at 1 Aspinall Street, in Mytholmroyd, West Riding of Yorkshire, to William Henry and Edith (née Farrar) Hughes, and raised among the local farms of the Calder valley and on the Pennine moorland. Hughes' sister Olwyn was two years his senior and his brother Gerald was older than him by ten years. His mother could trace her ancestry back to William de Ferrières, who came to England with William the Conqueror in the 11th century. One of her ancestors had founded the religious community of Little Gidding. Most of the more recent generations of his family had worked in the clothing and milling industries in the area. Hughes's father, a joiner, had enlisted with the Lancashire Fusiliers and fought at Ypres. A bullet narrowly escaped killing William Hughes when it lodged in a paybook in his breast pocket. He was one of just 17 men of his regiment to return from the Dardanelles Campaign (1915–16). The stories of Flanders fields filled Hughes' childhood imagination (later described in the poem "Out"). Hughes noted, "my first six years shaped everything."
Hughes loved hunting and fishing, swimming and picnicking with his family. He attended the Burnley Road School until he was seven, when his family moved to Mexborough, South Yorkshire, then attending Schofield Street junior school. His parents ran a newsagent's and tobacconist's shop. In Poetry in Making he recalled that he was fascinated by animals, collecting and drawing toy lead creatures. He acted as retriever when his elder brother gamekeeper shot magpies, owls, rats and curlews, growing up surrounded by the harsh realities of working farms in the valleys and on the moors. During his time in Mexborough he explored Manor Farm at Old Denaby, which he said he would come to know "better than any place on earth". His earliest poem "The Thought Fox", and earliest story "The Rain Horse" were recollections of the area. A close friend at the time, John Wholly, took Hughes to the Crookhill estate above Conisbrough where the boys spent great swathes of time. Hughes became close to the family and learnt a lot about wildlife from Wholly's father, a game keeper. He came to view fishing as an almost religious experience.
Hughes attended Mexborough Grammar School, where a succession of teachers encouraged him to write, and develop his interest in poetry. Teachers Miss McLeod and Pauline Mayne introduced him to the poets Hopkins and Eliot. Hughes was mentored by his sister Olwyn, who was well versed in poetry, and another teacher, John Fisher. Poet Harold Massingham also attended this school and was also mentored by Fisher. In 1946 one of Hughes' early poems, "Wild West" and a short story were published in the grammar school magazine The Don and Dearne, followed by further poems in 1948. By 16 he had no other thought than being a poet.
During the same year Hughes won an open exhibition in English at the Pembroke College, Cambridge, but chose to do his National Service first. His two years of National Service (1949–51) passed comparatively easily. Hughes was stationed as a ground wireless mechanic in the RAF on an isolated three-man station in east Yorkshire, a time during which he had nothing to do but "read and reread Shakespeare and watch the grass grow". He learnt many of the plays by heart and memorised great quantities of Yeats' poetry.
Couple Profile Source
Pembroke College, Cambridge
Edith Farrar Hughes
Edward James "Ted" Hughes, OM (17 August 1930 – 28 October 1998) was an English poet and children's writer. Critics routinely rank him as one of the best poets of his generation. He served as Poet Laureate from 1984 until his death.
Salt and Pepper
Place of Death
London, England, UK
Claim to Fame
The Iron Giant
Cause of Death
Writer, Other Crew
Has Detailed Data (New)
Full Name at Birth
Edward James Hughes
William Henry Hughes
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