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.
About the collection
Ted Hughes Archive
The largest single collection is the Hughes Archive which was acquired from the Hughes Estate in 2008. Consisting of over 465 files, volumes and oversize items, the archive includes literary drafts, correspondence, notebooks, professional papers and diaries. In particular the archive includes a large body of material relating to Hughes’ poetry collection, Birthday Letters, from its earliest conception through to publisher’s proofs and diary reflections at the point of publication.
Our most significant printed collection consists of over 150 books by or about Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath from the collection of Hughes’ friend and collaborator, the artist Leonard Baskin. You will find fine press and limited editions, foreign editions and translations of Hughes’ work in the collection, as well as examples of Rainbow Press and Morrigu Press publications illustrated by Baskin. In the catalogue records for individual items you will find details of inscriptions, holograph poems, illustrations, and existing dust-jackets.
Other archival collections
We also hold a number of smaller Hughes archival collections many of which contain correspondence with friends and acquaintances:
- Correspondence and literary manuscripts of Ted Hughes and Leonard Baskin, 1958-2000, which was acquired with the printed collection described above (Add MS 83684-83698)
- Verse and prose of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath, 1957-1962 (Add MS 53784)
- Ted Hughes correspondence with Keith Sagar, 1969-1998 (Add MS 78756-78761)
- Correspondence of Ted Hughes and Ann Skea, 1982-1996 (Add MS 74257)
- Letters from Ted Hughes to Rosemarie Rowley, 1993-1998 (Add MS 83260)
- Letters to Elizabeth Compton from Ted Hughes and others, 1963-1976 (Add MS 88612)
- Letters to Jack Brown from Ted Hughes, 1981-1998 (Add MS 88613)
- Letters etc., to Peter Keen from Ted Hughes, 1976-1985 (Add MS 88614)
- Papers relating to the publication of River, 1978-2004 (Add MS 88615)
- Letters to Terence McCaughey and his wife Ohna from Ted Hughes, 1956-1998 (Add MS 88616)
- Correspondence etc., of Glyn Hughes with Ted Hughes and others, 1956-2001 (Add MS 88617)
- Olwyn Hughes correspondence (Add MS 88948)
- Ann Skea papers relating to Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath (Add MS 88978)
- Correspondence of Terry Gifford and Neil Roberts with Ted Hughes (Add MS 88988)
- Ted Hughes/Sylvia Plath: The Bell Jar legal case (Add MS 88993)
The Library's sound archive contains recordings gathered from many sources. These include Ted Hughes performing his own work live, on the radio, and on commercial discs, cassettes and CDs. We also hold interviews, talks and theatre works. Many recordings are unique to the British Library. One highlight is a home recording made by Hughes with poet Peter Redgrove. This dates from 1956-57. It is thought to be the earliest recording of Hughes that survives.
What is available online?
Our Discovering Literature website includes digitised manuscript and printed material by Ted Hughes and articles about his work:
What is available in our Reading Rooms?
You can consult printed material in our Reading Rooms. Find and request items using the online catalogue Explore the British Library. The Hughes/Baskin collection can be identified by the prefix ‘Hughes’ before the shelfmark.
You can search for photographs of Hughes via the Archives and Manuscripts catalogue and can view photographs of Ted Hughes in the Print Room (located in the Asian and African Studies Reading Room) by appointment, Monday to Friday. For an appointment please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is available in other organisations?
You can find details of archive material held by other organisations on the Ted Hughes Society website. Organisations with Hughes collections include:
- Special Collections, University of Exeter
- Special Collections, University of Liverpool
- The Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library at Emory University
- Lilly Library, University of Indiana
- Department of Special Collections, Washington University, St Louis
- Special Collections, McPherson Library, University of Victoria
- Special Collections, University of Buffalo
- Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Columbia