Notes and drafts from Ted Hughes's workroom and workhut

Description

This collection of loose papers is a selection from a larger collection of material written and stored by Ted Hughes in his workroom and work hut at his home in Devon. It includes autograph, typewritten and printed material.

Mind maps

The first loose sheet is an example of a mind map drawn up by Hughes, which appears to have been used by the poet as a way of recording notes and research. It focuses on key figures and stories explored in Siberian folktales, reflecting Hughes’s lifelong interest in folk culture ─ an interest that can be found in other archival material. The note ‘Siberian Folktales Riordan (Canongate)’ suggests that this particular mind map is a response to James Riordan’s collection The Sun Maiden and The Crescent Moon: Siberian Folktales, first published in 1989. Other mind maps within the folder explore topics such as the mythical figure of Atlas and occult Japan.

Notes on the arrangement of Birthday Letters

The second item consists of a collection of sheets on the arrangement of poems in Birthday Letters, the poetic sequence about Hughes’s relationship with Sylvia Plath. The sheets were pinned on the wall of Hughes’s workhut in his garden in North Tawton, Devon.

Although titled ‘Final arrangement?’, the undated document reveals that Hughes considerably altered the collection’s structure before its publication in 1998. Here, for example, the poems are split into Books I-V, and Hughes lists poems which were not included in the final selection, such as ‘Last Letter’. Hughes also lists just 57 poems, compared to the final 88. This document, and the surrounding archival material, thus provides an insight into Hughes’s composition and heavy revision of the collection across decades.

‘Full Moon and Little Frieda’

The third item is a fair copy of ‘Full Moon and Little Frieda’, a popular poem Hughes wrote about himself and his daughter, who is named in the title.

Full title:
Edward James Hughes Papers: Notes and drafts from workroom and workhut
Created:
c. 1990s; whole volume 1951─98
Format:
Manuscript / Notebook / Artwork / Drawing / Image
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 88918/12/4

Full catalogue details

Related articles

An introduction to Birthday Letters

Article by:
Neil Roberts
Theme:
Literature 1950–2000

Professor Neil Roberts explores the development of Birthday Letters, Ted Hughes’s 1998 poetry collection that was written over a period of 25 years and concerns Hughes’s relationship with the American poet Sylvia Plath.

Ted Hughes and mythology

Article by:
Andy Armitage
Themes:
Literature 1950–2000, Fantasy and fairy tale

Andy Armitage explains how Ted Hughes used mythology to think and write about vitality and death. In doing so, Hughes drew not only on ancient myths but also on the work of previous writers influenced by mythology, such as Robert Graves, W B Yeats and Carl Jung.

An introduction to Tales from Ovid

Article by:
Andy Armitage
Themes:
Literature 1950–2000, Fantasy and fairy tale

Andy Armitage explores how Ted Hughes's beliefs about myths shaped his Tales from Ovid, and how his adaptation of a classical work can be read alongside his intensely personal last volume of poetry, Birthday Letters.

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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 ...