Facts about Ted Hughes
Ted Hughes Biography
Ted Hughes was the poet laureate of England from 1984 until his death in 1998, but his international fame will always rest on the fact that he was married to poet Sylvia Plath, who killed herself in 1963.
Awarded a scholarship for his poetry, Ted Hughes studied literature at Pembroke College, Cambridge, but also studied archaeology and anthropology, subjects that informed his adult poems. He married American writer Plath in 1956, and during their marriage they lived in both the U.S. and England, with Hughes teaching and Plath writing and raising their two children.
Hughes made his reputation for unsentimental poems about nature with the collections The Hawk in the Rain (1957) and Lupercal (1960), but his extra-marital affair and Plath’s suicide altered the course of his fame. As Plath became a feminist icon, Hughes became the villain in their relationship, seen as controlling and indifferent to her mental illness. His 1998 poetry collection, Birthday Letters, went a long way toward “rehabilitating” his reputation — that is, adding another facet to the already complicated analyses of their marriage.
After Plath’s death, Hughes wrote poems and stories for children, including 1968’s The Iron Man, known popularly as The Iron Giant (and made into an animated feature starring Vin Diesel in 1999).
Acclaimed and influential, Hughes was named Poet Laureate of England in 1984, and awarded the Order of Merit in 1998, just two months before his death.