This notebook appears to first date from early in Ted Hughes’s life and career, or possibly his childhood. A section of papers titled 'Britain's Little Errors' reveals that Hughes wrote in it up to 1993. There are several additional undated loose pages that have been taped or pasted in.
The pages shown here largely contain Hughes's transcriptions of traditional folklore, legends and proverbs from cultures around the world. There are tales of fairies and banshees from the British Isles, of vampires from Transylvania, and of shape shifting foxes from China. Hughes’s enthusiasm for collecting folktales and mythology began when he was a teenager, after his mother brought home a children’s encyclopedia that included sections on folklore. These stories left an extraordinary impression on Hughes. In a 1995 interview for The Paris Review he told Drue Heinz, ‘I remember the shock of reading those stories. I could not believe that such wonderful things existed’.
Hughes also used the notebook for literary drafts, and for research notes on other subjects including Buddhism and historical figures.
 Ted Hughes, The Art of Poetry No. 71, interviewed by Drue Heinz, The Paris Review (Spring 1995 No. 13) <http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/1669/the-art-of-poetry-no-71-ted-hughes>
- Full title:
- Edward James Hughes Papers: Early unpublished prose and research notes
- estimated 1940s–20 June 1993
- Manuscript / Notebook
- 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
- Add MS 88918/9/12
- Article by:
- Andy Armitage
- 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.
- Article by:
- Helen Melody
- Literature 1950–2000, Power and conflict
Helen Melody investigates how the First and Second World Wars shaped Ted Hughes's life and work.
- Article by:
- Simon Armitage
- Literature 1950–2000
Ted Hughes believed that poetry had the power to heal and transform, to change perceptions and to alter states. Like many of us, Simon Armitage first encountered Hughes’s poetry at school and was captivated by his ability to distill the complexity of human experience. Here he explores some of Hughes’s themes and interests and the impact he had on his own life and work.