Manuscript draft of 'Fingers' by Ted Hughes, from the Birthday Letters notebooks

Description

This red ring-bound notebook contains an undated autograph draft of ‘Fingers’, a poem by Ted Hughes that was later published in Birthday Letters. It belongs to the 15 folders and volumes held by the British Library that contain poetry drafts, notes, personal reflections and correspondence relating to the creation, development and publication of Birthday Letters. Hughes originally stored this notebook with other material in a box file titled 'B.L. Drafts III' (forming Add MS 88918/1/6-8). Some of the notebooks feature the collection’s early working title, ‘The Sorrows Of The Deer’ (this title is found across the archive).

Birthday Letters, a collection of 88 poems by Hughes, was published to public and critical acclaim in 1998. Their subject is Hughes’s relationship with the American poet Sylvia Plath, to whom he was married from 1956 until her death in 1963. Written over a period of 25 years, all the poems, except two, are addressed directly to Plath.

‘Fingers’ is a poem of quiet grief and remembrance. Opening, ‘Who will remember your fingers?’, the recalled image serves as a carrier for other memories (Plath playing the piano, or at her typewriter) that, above all, captures and celebrates Plath’s energy and spirit.

‘Fingers’ is the third poem from last in the published volume. Built around intimate, familial knowledge, it forms a dialogue with the following poem, ‘The Dogs Are Eating Your Mother’, that, addressed to Hughes’s and Plath’s children, confronts biographers’, critics’ and the wider public’s invasive treatment of Plath and her family following her death.

Full title:
Edward James Hughes Papers: ‘B.L. notebooks and drafts III’
Created:
largely undated; before 1998
Format:
Manuscript / Notebook / Draft
Language:
English
Creator:
Ted Hughes
Usage terms

© The Ted Hughes Estate. No copying, republication or modification is allowed for material © The Ted Hughes Estate. For further use of this material please seek formal permission from the copyright holder.

Held by
British Library
Shelfmark:
Add MS 88918/1/7

Full catalogue details

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Birthday Letters

Created by: Ted Hughes

Birthday Letters, a collection of 88 poems by the British poet Ted Hughes, was published to public and critical ...