Ted Hughes Collection

Ted Hughes photographed in black and white. The portrait shows him from his chest to his head. He is wearing a white shirt, dark tie and an overcoat. The fringe of his hair is loosening over his forehead.
Ted Hughes by Fay Godwin © British Library Board

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.

Hughes/Baskin Collection

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:

Audio recordings

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 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.

Manuscripts and archival material can be consulted in our Manuscripts Reading Room. Find and request material using the Archives and Manuscripts catalogue.

To hear recordings by or about Ted Hughes search the Library's Sound and Moving Image Catalogue. To book a listening appointment please get in touch with the Listening and Viewing Service.

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 apac-prints@bl.uk.

Further information