Ted Hughes Biography
ABOUT THE POET
Edward James Hughes was born on 17th August, 1930 in Mytholmroyd, in the west Riding region of Yorkshire in England. His father, William Hughes, had been a carpenter but had subsequently enlisted in the army in the course of World War-I and had fought on the Gallipoli Pennisula in April, 1915. William Hughes was one of the only seventeen survivors of the battalion which participated in that campaign and on the return home, he used to tell his family the stories of the fighting in the war and his own participation in it. He had seriously been wounded in the fighting, and Ted has incarnated a memory of William Hughes’ suffering in one of his poems, entitled “Out”. Indeed, William Hughes’ accounts of the fighting in First World War made a permanent mark on Ted Hughes who was in those days a Ted Hughes mere baby. As a result of his listening to those accounts, became gradually infatuated with war and death in war, and later on wrote a number of war poems. If war had a profound impact on Ted Hughes as a Child, the region where he was born, had another deep influence. He was born in the Calder Valley; and his early impression of this valley remained permanently engraved on his mind. One of his anthologies of poems which appeared in the later seventies of the 20th century and which is titled “Remains of Elmet”, and another Volume called “The River” consists of graphic descriptions of the Calder Valley, of the river Calder, and of the life of the Murat people of that zone.
Ted Hughes attended Maxborough Grammar School, and after qualifying his final examination there, he proceeded to the University of Cambridge on a scholarship which he had won though, before going up the university, he did National Service for two years as a wireless mechanic in the Royal Air Force. At Cambridge University he first took up English literature as his primary subject of study, but two years after shifted over to anthropology and archaeology.
At Cambridge he also happened to meet an American girl, Sylvia Plath, who had gone there to study English language and literature. In 1956, two years after graduating from Cambridge University, he married her.
In 1957 Hughes published his first collection of poems, giving it the title of “The Hawk in the Rain” which was simultaneously the title of one the poems in this collection. In the same year he went with Sylvia Plath to live in America where they lived until 1959. In 1960, he and his wife returned to England, and published his second collection of poems, titled as “Lupercal”. He and his wife were now living in a small flat in London; and there they had their first child, Frieda Rebecca, in 1960. The second Volume of his poems confirmed his reputation as a young poet of great promise. Indeed, his very first publication, namely, “The Hawk in the Rain” had brought him acknowledgement and much critical acclaim. Sylvia Plath, too was an author, and she also published some of her works. A second child, a boy called Nicholas Ferrer, was born to them in 1962 at their home in North Tawton, Devon, the which the had shifted from London in 1961. However, the marriage. was already showing sings of strain; and the couple separated. Sylvia the two children moved to a flat in London. Hughes also moved to London and began to live there in separation from his family. In 1963 Sylvia Plath committed suicide at her flat. It appears that Hughes had an affair with another woman, and that is why, Sylvia took the extreme step because of her sheer dejection and depression. For three years after her suicide, Hughes did not write much except a few magazine articles and book reviews. After a trip to Ireland in 1966, he seemed to have recovered his creative vigour and in 1967, he published his next volume of poems, entitled “Wodwo”. But tragedy struck him again when the woman, with whom he developed a friendship, died in 1969. In 1970 Hughes married a woman by the name of Carol Orchard. She was the daughter of a Devon farmer whom Hughes celebrated in his volume entitled “Moortown”. At the same time, he invited several other writers to form “The Arvon Foundation” to promote and sponsor budding poets, novelists, and playwrights. During the summer of 1971, he went to Iran with Peter Brook’s international company to compose a play for an Iranian theatrical organization. A volume of poems named “Crow” had been published by him in 1970; and now other volumes of poems by him followed : “Season Songs” in 1974; “Gandete” in 1977. “Cave Birds” in 1978; “Remain of Elmet” in 1979; and “The River” in 1983.
Ted Hughes was recognized or acknowledged as one of the most distinguished English poets; and in the year 1984 he was appointed the poet Laureate of England in succession to Sir John Betjeman at his death.