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Page last updated at 14:56 GMT, Wednesday, 15 September 2010 15:56 UK
British Library acquires Ted Hughes letters and poems
By Laura Joint
BBC Devon

Ted Hughes
Ted Hughes made North Tawton in Devon his home

Poems and letters written by the late Poet Laureate Ted Hughes which have never been seen in public before have been acquired by the British Library.

The poet lived in Devon for 37 years up to his death from cancer in 1998.

The collection includes 41 letters sent to the poet's sister, Olwyn Hughes, as well as unpublished poems and a handwritten draft of an untitled play.

The Olwyn Hughes archive has been purchased by the British Library for £29,500.

Letters sent by American writer Sylvia Plath, who was married to Hughes, are in the collection. Plath committed suicide in 1963.

It is believed the three unpublished poems date back to the late 1950s and early 1960s. They are entitled Lines In Mid-Air, Snatchcraftington Addresses, and Eden.

The documents include unpublished poems and 41 letters

The letters, which date from 1954 to 1964, shed light on aspects of Ted Hughes' life and early career, including his time in the US and his life with Plath.

In one letter from Massachusetts in 1957, he wrote: "Luxury is stuffed down your throat - a mass-produced luxury - till you feel you'd rather be rolling in the mud and eating that."

The British Library said the letters provided "a real insight" into the early careers of Hughes and Plath.

It is hoped the documents will be available for access to researchers early next year.

Helen Broderick, the British Library's curator of modern literary manuscripts, said: "This exciting new acquisition provides a real insight into the early careers of both Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath as they sought publication and recognition for their work.

"Hughes' insights into life in America are particularly fascinating and the archive complements the British Library's existing Hughes collections by covering this key period of change and development in his life."

Hughes, who was born in Yorkshire in 1930, moved to North Tawton in north Devon in 1961 and made Devon his home for the rest of his life.

His widow, Carol Hughes, still lives in the area.

There is a memorial stone in his honour in a remote part of northern Dartmoor - one of his favourite places.

Before he died, Hughes requested his name be cut in a long slab of granite and placed between the sources of the rivers Teign, Dart, Taw and East Okement.

Hughes also asked for his ashes to be scattered in the area.

Profile of poet Ted Hughes
01 Dec 09 |  Arts & Culture
Poets' Corner memorial for Hughes
22 Mar 10 |  Devon


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