Biography (Critical Survey of Poetry: British, Irish, & Commonwealth Poets)
Ted Hughes was born Edward James Hughes in a small Yorkshire town on the edge of the moors, only a few miles from where the famous Brontë sisters (Charlotte, Emily, and Anne) had lived. His father, William, a carpenter, had been badly wounded in World War I during the Gallipoli landings. Hughes was the youngest of three children. His brother briefly became a gamekeeper; his sister, Olwyn, became an executor and literary agent for the estate of Sylvia Plath. When Hughes was seven, the family moved to a mining town in south Yorkshire called Mexborough. From the grammar school there, he won an scholarship to attend Cambridge University, and he went to Cambridge in 1951 after two years of national service in the Royal Air Force. Having changed his major from English to archaeology and anthropology, he graduated in 1954.
Hughes then worked at a number of jobs, including teaching. Although he had been writing poetry from the age of fifteen, he wrote little at Cambridge and attempted to publish only locally at first. In 1956, he met Sylvia Plath, who was two years younger than he and was in Cambridge on a Fulbright Fellowship. At the time of their meeting, she was already a published poet. She began to send his poems to magazines and also entered him for a competition in New York for a first volume of poetry. He won with The Hawk in the Rain, and through its publication, his name quickly became known.
Plath and Hughes were married within...
(The entire section is 559 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
Biography (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
Edward James Hughes was born on August 17, 1930, in Mytholmroyd, on the Calder River, one of England’s first industrialized rivers yet also near the wildness of the moors. Hughes was the youngest of three children of Edith Farrar, who traced her ancestry back to the martyr Bishop Farrar, and William Hughes, a carpenter, who was one of only seventeen of an entire regiment to have survived the battle at Gallipoli in World War I. When Hughes was seven, the family moved to Mexborough; there, Hughes led a double life of living in town but often roaming about on nearby farms and estates. The landscape and the language of West Riding and South Yorkshire were undoubtedly significant in shaping Hughes’s sensibility: his fascination with animals, natural processes, and archaic myths; the conflict between wilderness, farm, and industrialization; the rhythms of collapse and renewal; and the spare, physical language of the people are present throughout his poetic career.
In 1948, Hughes won an open exhibition to the University of Cambridge. He postponed his studies at Cambridge until 1951, choosing to serve for two years in the National Service, in the Royal Air Force (RAF) as a mechanic at an isolated radio transmission station in Yorkshire. Though he planned to study English literature at Pembroke College, Cambridge, he changed in his third year to archaeology and...
(The entire section is 876 words.)
Biography (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
Ted Hughes offers a powerful vision of the world and of poetry. While the underpinnings of much of his thought may seem esoteric, his poetry is direct and sensory; the poems’ immediacy brings the reader into contact with the archaic, mythic, or primordial forces explored by Hughes. Hughes certainly belongs to the tradition of English landscape poets, such as Andrew Marvell, William Wordsworth, or D. H. Lawrence; however, his vision of the natural world suggests that any attempt to control nature results not only in damaging the natural world but also in the distortion and destruction of the human spirit.
(The entire section is 100 words.)
Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
The youngest of the three children of Edith Farrar Hughes and William Henry Hughes, Ted Hughes grew up on the sprawling and barren moors of West Yorkshire, where he spent his boyhood scouting the wilderness with his older brother, an avid hunter and woodsman. These early experiences with nature began a lifelong preoccupation with animals which would form the basis for one of the most unique and powerful voices in English poetry.
While Hughes was still a boy his family moved to Mexborough, where Hughes began writing poetry, encouraged by an English teacher at the town’s only grammar school. Following his national service, Hughes enrolled at Cambridge University and studied archaeology and anthropology. With a group of classmates he founded a literary magazine, St. Botolph’s Review, and at its inaugural party in 1956 he met a young American college student, poet Sylvia Plath. They were married only four months later.
Hughes and Plath influenced each other’s writing and sensibilities, with her learning about “woods and animals and earth” (in her words) from Hughes, and him learning about American poetry from her. The manuscript for Hughes’s first book, The Hawk in the Rain, was submitted to a New York poetry contest by Plath, who typed the manuscript for Hughes. First prize, which Hughes won, was publication of the...
(The entire section is 888 words.)
Ted Hughes was born August 17, 1930, in the village of Mytholmroyd in West Yorkshire, England, but grew up in Mexborough. In school Hughes was encouraged to write poetry by teachers who recognized his talent, and he was later awarded a scholarship to Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he studied English literature. His fascination with animals and their connections to humankind caused him to change his major to anthropology, and after earning his bachelor’s degree in 1954, he moved to London to work as a zoo attendant and gardener.
Hughes returned to Cambridge for a master’s degree in the late 1950s. He fell in with the literary crowd and published several poems in local journals. At a party he met a young American Fulbright scholar named Sylvia Plath, who was also a poet, and the two were immediately drawn to one another. Within months they were married, so beginning a tumultuous relationship that neither could have anticipated would end in such tragedy.
The couple moved to America in 1957 and both taught at universities in Massachusetts. The same year, Hughes had his first collection of poetry published. In 1959 they moved back to England. They had a daughter in 1960 and a son in 1962, and seemed to live simple, pastoral lives without much money, encouraging one another’s poetic efforts and enjoying their children. But a darker side of their marriage came to light when Hughes had an affair with a German woman, Assia Wevill. Plath...
(The entire section is 468 words.)