The Ted Hughes Homepage

The Iron Man

The Iron Man, made for Peter Townshend’s musical adaptation of the story, found resting in a barn at Moortown Farm in 1997. © Ann Skea

Old Crow
Flying your black bag of jewels
From chaos to chaos
Probe hard for those maggoty deaths
Which poison our lives.

Poetic Quest cover

Ted Hughes: The Poetic Quest (e-book)

(University of New England Press, 1994). This book examines Hughes’ creative alchemy in Cave Birds, Remains of Elmet and River. It discusses many of Hughes’ poems in detail and draws on the author’s own correspondence with Hughes and on unpublished material from original manuscripts. Illustrations from alchemical manuscripts and from the works of William Blake complement the text.

Rugby Street Sign

The Ted Hughes London Walks

Downloadable maps and notes of London places associated with the life and work of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath.
Brief quotations are included as a guide to some of the poems by Ted Hughes which are associated with places numbered on the maps.

The Ted Hughes Society
The Ted Hughes Society

Promoting the scholarly reading and discussion of the work of Ted Hughes

Jump to Interview Transcripts and Memoirs

Timeline: A chronological biography listing Ted Hughes’ publications, interests and life events. Updated September 2023.

Notes and Queries: Some notes and answers to queries on copyright, poetry analysis, texts, and various aspects of Ted Hughes’ life and work. Discussion of many poems and poetic sequences. Also, notes on some of the manuscripts relevant to the work of Hughes and Plath which are held in the British Library. Updated September. 2023.

Ted Hughes, ‘An Alchemy’ and Shakespeare: Hughes’ poem ‘An Alchemy’ (THCP 279) is constructed as an alchemical process which seeks to describe the Alchemical nature of Shakespeare’s works. This paper offers a description and analysis of the poem. A section of this paper was presentend at the British Library Symposium on ‘Ted Hughes and Expressionism’(Sept 2023) and Part 1 (not included) is published in Intellect Book 2.0 'online first'. (September. 2023).

Birthday Letters and The Sorrows of the Deer: In the Birthday Letters manuscripts in the British Library, the original title for these poems was ‘The Sorrows of the Deer’. This paper discusses the importance of the deer for Hughes and the reasons for this choice. Published in the Ted Hughes Society Journal Vol.9 Issue 1.(Nov.2022) .

Simon Armitage’s ‘Lockdown’ and Ted Hughes’s ‘Churn Milk Joan‘. Social distancing in the 1600s. A brief discussion of two poems which have a surprising connection with the present. (Jan. 2021).

Ted Hughes, Ecology and the Arts: (Published in Global Perspectives on Eco-Aesthetics and Eco-Ethics, Maiti, K. and Chakraborty, S.(Eds.), Lexington Books, 2020). “We have no problem in becoming aware that we are destroying our planet and our life on it. Our probelm is the very great difficulty of becoming aware in such a way that we do something about it” (Hughes). (June 2020).

Ted Hughes and 'Astrological Conundrums': (Published in the Ted Hughes Society Journal. Vol.7, Issue 2, 2019). An annotation made by Hughes at the end of his poem, ‘Astrological Conundrums’, reveals how his astrological birth–chart and the mythological figures associated with it influenced his life and his work. (January 2019).

Ted Hughes and the Occult Tradition: (Published in the Ted Hughes Society Journal. Vol.6, Issue 1, 2017). Hughes’ negotiations with the Goddess and his belief in the magical healing power of poetry are part of a long tradition dating back to the work of the Roman poet/philosopher Lucretius (c.99–55 BCE). Lucretius’ poem, On the Nature of Things, influenced the work of Chaucer, Spencer, Sidney, Shakespeare, Milton, Blake, Wordsworth and Yeats, as well that of many eminent philosophers and scientists. (October 2017).

Ted Hughes and David Hockney’s Alphabet: (Published in the Ted Hughes Society Journal. Vol.5, Issue 1, 2016). In 1991, to raise money for the AIDS Crisis Trust, David Hockney created 26 pictures of individual letters of the alphabet. Stephen Spender, on behalf of that charity then sent one letter to each of twenty–six well–known British and American writers inviting them to contribute original text in response to their particular letter. Ted Hughes was given the letter ‘S’. (November 2017).

Ted Hughes: The Poetic Quest : An exploration of Ted Hughes use of myth, mysticism and alchemy in Cave Birds, Remains of Elmet and River, with detailed examination of many of the poems.

“O Lady”: Hughes and his Muse: An investigation of the development of Hughes’ negotiations with his Muse/Goddess from the time of his earliest, romantic, view of the Muse, to his complex and sincere negotiations with the Goddess of Complete Being. (October 2016).

‘The Calm’ by Ted Hughes: Notes and Précis of a ‘lost’ play: As far as is known, this play exists only in scattered fragments of manuscript and typescript. As many of these as possible have been collected, transcribed and collated to form a coherent whole from which this précis has been made. (December 2015. Addendum, Nov. 2016. Update July 2019).

Ted Hughes and Shakespeare: “A Particular Knot of Obsessions”. An examination of shared beliefs and themes as expressed in Shakespeare and The Goddess of Complete Being. First published in Litro: 133, April 17, 2014. (February 2015)

Gaudete: and The Reverend Lumb’s Parish and Parishioners. . Springtime abundance, Major Hagen, sex, violence and a suggested map of Lumb’s Parish. (February 2015)

Ted Hughes’ Vacanas: The Difficulties of a Bridegroom :a discussion of poems inspired by the Vacanas of Siva–worshipping mystics of Southern India. First published by Palgrave Macmillan in Ted Hughes; Cambridge to Collected, (Eds.) Wormald, Roberts and Gifford, 2013.
A previously unpublished chart of the poems, links, and dates and places of publication is included. (April 2014. Updated Feb.2020).

‘Creatures of Light’ : Why and how did Ted Hughes use Magic in his poetry? An historical perspective.

Poetry and Magic 1: Birthday Letters : An analysis of Birthday Letters and of Ted Hughes’ use of Tarot and Cabbala in this sequence.

Poetry and Magic 2: Howls & Whispers : The Averse Sephiroth and the Spheres of the Qlippoth. More Cabbalistic magic.

Poetry and Magic 3: Capriccio : Capriccio and The Path of the Sword. Confronting and controlling the demons. (This sequence of essays on Birthday Letters , Howls & Whispers and Capriccio was completed 17 October 2007).

The Birthday Letters Archive in the British Library. Notes on the many manuscripts, typescripts, drafts and lists of poems in Ted Hughes’ Birthday Letters archive, with reference to The Sorrows of the Deer, and to his use of Cabbala. (April 2015)

Addendum to ‘The Birthday Letters Archive in the British Library’. Notes on ‘The Sorrows of the Deer’: the earliest title for Birthday Letters. (31 August 2017).

Adam and the Sacred Nine : A Cabbalistic Drama . This paper traces the way in which Ted Hughes, following the example of such poets as Spencer, Sidney, Dante, Milton and Shakespeare, used Cabbala as a framework for his sequence of poems. (2010).

Ted Hughes: Occult Energies . A personal memoir: How I first became aware of Ted’s knowledge and use of Mysticism, Alchemy and Cabbala, and his attitude to discussion of these occult arts. Published in Translation Cafe. No.94. Feb. 10. 2010. University of Bucharest, Romania.

‘Ted Hughes and The Goddess’ The inspiration, origins and use of The Goddess in Ted Hughes’ works. First published by The Ted Hughes Society Journal, January 2013.

Ted Hughes’ River This detailed discussion of the River poems was first published as part 3 of Ted Hughes the Poetic Quest. It is now updated with an addendum, based on archived correspondence, outlining the origins of the book and its publication history. (1994. Updated: November 2017))

Ted Hughes and Crow : A detailed discussion of Crow and of the role of Crow himself as a Trickster figure. Published in The Endicott Studio Journal of Mythic Arts, Winter 2007.

Ted Hughes and ‘The Zodiac in the Shape of a Crown: What the Starry Heavens Sang to His Royal Highness Prince William On 21st July 1982’ . Ted Hughes’ astrological poem written for the birth of HRH Prince William.

‘Ted Hughes and the British Bardic Tradition’ : Some reflections on a Poet Laureate’s training, its Celtic origins and the traditional role of the bard. Published as 'Taliesin for the 20th Century' in Urthona, Issue 25, Summer, 2008.

‘Wolf-Masks: From Hawk to Wolfwatching’ : Ted Hughes’ use of the wolf as a symbol and a mask in his poetry.

‘Regeneration in Remains of Elmet : A discussion of Ted Hughes’ re-creation of his Yorkshire homeland, with close reference to many of the Elmet poems.

Variant Editions A close examination of the variant editions of Cave Birds, River, Remains of Elmet, Elmet and Three Books This paper was first published in Ted Hughes Society Journal, Issue 2, Volume 1 (2012)

A Creative Collaboration: R. J. Lloyd and Ted Hughes An account of the collaboration between Ted Hughes and the artist R. J. Lloyd in What is the Truth, and in their own Sunstone Press publications: The Cat and the Cuckoo, The Mermaid’s Purse and Earth Dances. (August 2012)

Ted Hughes and Small Press Publication. An account of Hughes’s involvement with various small press publications, in particular, Modern Poetry in Translation , The Rainbow Press and Nicholas Hughes’s Morrigu Press. Including detailed lists of Rainbow Press and Morrigu Press publicatons. (Updated November 2016).

‘Understanding Ted Hughes’ . A brief ‘Introduction’ to the poetry of Ted Hughes, with reference to poems by both Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath.

The abandoned script of King Lear; Pike and Angels; and Orghast: Notes on a BBC Radio 3 interview with Ted Hughes. Notes on Ted Hughes’ discussion of the dream which made him abandon his King Lear script; about mythology and poetry; and about what he learned from the language experiment of Orghast. New: 25 Sept. 2014

Difficulties of a Bridegroom .(Faber, 1995). A review of Ted Hughes’ book of this title.

‘Ted Hughes, Gaudete, Cave Birds, and the 1975 Ilkley Literature Festival.’ Keith Sagar was preparing to give this talk about Ted Hughes and his work at the Ilkley Literature Festival on October 20th, 2013. Keith died on October 15th. New: October 2013.

‘Ted Hughes and Shamanism’ by Michael Baldwin (Memoir) Michael Baldwin is a widely published poet, novelist, essayist and short-story writer. He was a long-time friend of Ted Hughes and in this memoir he recalls their shared (usually sceptical) fascination with magic. He also writes of A. Alvarez's disparagement of Ted as a shaman. (Sept. 2012)

Ted Hughes and the Theatre by Tim Supple (Memoir) . Tim Supple is an internationally recognized director of plays and opera. He has worked with many of the major theatre companies in England and around the world and is currently Co-Director, with Josephine Burton, of Dash Arts. He directed Ted Hughes’s versions of Lorca’s Blood Wedding, Wedekind’s Spring Awakening, and Tales from Ovid.

Ted Hughes’ Memorial Service . A personal record of the service held in Westminster Abbey on 13 May, 1999.

Orghast at Persepolis: Interview with Ted Hughes Transcript of a rare interview with Ted Hughes about Orghast (the language and the play) conducted by Peter Wilson at the Shiraz-Persepolis Festival of Arts in 1971. (July 2015).

An Interview with Ted Hughes: Transcript of an interview with Ted Hughes conducted whilst he was a Special Guest at the Asia Poetry Festival, 17-19 November 1989. (Feb. 2012)

Conversation with Hughes’ Contemporaries: Transcript of a recording made at the International Ted Hughes Conference, Pembroke College, Cambridge University on Friday 17th September, 2010.

Ted Hughes introduces Thor Vilhjalmsson at the ICA.7 June 1996. Transcript.

Ted Hughes: Language and Culture (1982); and Ted Hughes: The Wound (1976). Transcripts of two ABC interviews with Ted Hughes.

Ted Hughes: The Critical Forum, Norwich Tapes. 1978. A transcript of Ted Hughes’ discussion of poetry, magic, fishing and farming.

Ted Hughes at the Adelaide Festival, March 1976. A transcript of Ted Hughes’ comments on fifteen of his early poems. This includes an outline of the Crow story.

Adelaide Festival 2. March 1976. A transcript of an interview of Ted Hughes made for Radio 3AW (Adelaide). Hughes comments on poetry and introduces some of his poems from Crow and New Selected Poems .

Adelaide Festival Book Week. March 1976. A transcript of an interview with Ted Hughes and Don Dunstan made for Radio 3AW (Adelaide).

‘Sylvia Plath, Ariel and the Tarot’ These chapters explore the possibility that Sylvia Plath may have used the Tarot to write and to arrange her Ariel manuscripts. March 2013.

Links and reviews .

Contact: Scholars, researchers and others interested in the work of Ted Hughes can contact me at Include ‘Hughes’ in the subject header.

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