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Hughes, Ted (1930-1998)

The British Library is one of the best resources in the world for studying the work of the English poet and children's writer Ted Hughes (1930-1998). These include first and later editions of his poetry and prose, as well as critical studies, biographies, and literary journals in which his work is discussed. The Library also holds sound recordings by or about Hughes and has recently acquired the Ted Hughes Archive.

Ted Hughes

Ted Hughes © The British Library Board


The Library's printed collection is especially strong in fine press work, a medium Hughes found attractive. English presses featuring Hughes include the Rainbow Press and the Morrigu Press, but perhaps the most significant are the American editions produced by the Gehenna Press. For the Gehenna, Hughes worked in close collaboration with the artist and printer Leonard Baskin, and their friendship and artistic association spanned decades. Howls & Whispers (1998; shelfmark: Cup.512.b.150) is a particularly important example of a Gehenna book: this limited edition contains poems held back from the autobiographical Birthday Letters (Faber, 1998; shelfmark: YC.2006.a.15922) and not republished until after his death, when they were included in Collected Poems (2003). Hughes' last work, a translation of Aeschylus' Oresteia (2001), was also a Gehenna production, purchased for the Library with the help of the Friends of the British Library.

Hughes' publications are entered individually in Explore the British Library.

The British Library also holds a special collection of Ted Hughes and Leonard Baskin books and manuscripts. The manuscript archive comprises over 450 items which documents their creative relationship. The archive contains handwritten and typescript copies of poems, letters and preparatory materials for many of their important works such as Crow, Cave Birds and Flowers and Insects. It also includes the manuscript of Hughes's essay on Baskin "The Hanged Man and the Dragonfly".

The printed collection amounts to over 150 books by or about Hughes as well as books by Sylvia Plath including a rare first edition of The Bell Jar (Heinemann, 1963; shelfmark: Hughes 21). The collection can be identified in Explore the British Library by the Hughes prefix to the shelfmark, the catalogue records have copy specific notes detailing any inscription, whether the book contains a holograph poem, illustration, or whether the book has a dust-jacket.

Although, most of the books were presentation copies sent by Hughes to Leonard and Lisa Baskin there are some which originate from other sources such as copies from Hughes' bibliographer Keith Sagar. There are also foreign editions and translations of Hughes' work and uncorrected proof copies. In addition to the standard editions of Hughes' works the collection also includes examples of fine press and limited editions including the Faber fine press limited edition of Crow, (Faber, 1973; shelfmark Hughes 11) and examples by the Rainbow Press and the Morrigu Press.


British Library Manuscripts Catalogue
[Hughes is entered under the name Hughes (Ted)]

[general literary resources]
British Library Sound Archive Catalogue
[for recordings by and about Hughes]
British Library Spoken Word Series

External Links

[for readers, scholars, students and others with an interest in Ted Hughes' work]
Emory University, Atlanta, Special Collections & Archives
National Portrait Gallery Catalogue
[contains portraits of Hughes]
Keith Sagar: Ted Hughes Page
Ann Skea: Ted Hughes Page
UK National Register of Archives
[Hughes is entered under the name Hughes, Edward James]


Keith Sagar and Stephen Tabor, Ted Hughes: a bibliography, 1946-1995. London: Mansell, 1998. Shelfmark: 2725.e.3874