Papers of Ted Hughes

Scope and Content

This small collection contains materials relating to Under the North Star.

The focal point of the collection is a fine manuscript of Under the North Star (1979), written by Hughes' hand and bound in a 'dummy' Rainbow Press binding as used for Poems [by] Ruth Fainlight, Ted Hughes, and Alan Sillitoe. According to the pencil inscription in the flyleaf, the poems in this collection were perceived during a trip to Maine in 1979 by Hughes and his wife, together with the American artist Leonard Baskin, his wife Lisa and his daughter Lucretia. The Baskins were friends of Hughes who also lived in Devon, and the work was dedicated to Lucretia Baskin. This fine version of the manuscript appears to have been in the possession of Leonard Baskin.

The collection also includes a copy of each of the American and UK first editions of Under the North Star (1981). The UK edition contains an engraved 'birth announcement' card of Lucretia Manya Baskin, 1974, and an engraved 'change of address' card for Lisa and Leonard Baskin, 1974. Also contained is a Rainbow Press bound copy of Poems [by] Ruth Fainlight, Ted Hughes, and Alan Sillitoe, signed by all three poets (1971).

Administrative / Biographical History

Ted Hughes (1930-1998), poet laureate, was born at Mytholmroyd, Yorkshire, in 1930, the son of William Henry Hughes and Edith Farrar Hughes. He was educated at Mexborough Grammar School, having moved there in 1937, when his father opened a newsagent's shop. In 1948, he won a scholarship to Cambridge, and read English at Pembroke College before changing to Archaeology and Anthropology, graduating in 1954. At Cambridge he met Sylvia Plath (d 1963), whom he married in 1956. The year after his marriage his first book of poetry, The Hawk in the Rain, was published by Faber and Faber to widespread acclaim. A number of increasingly diverse publications followed, including childrens' stories and poetry, librettos and poetry. After a short period in London and the USA, he moved to Devon in 1961. In 1970, he married his second wife, Carol Orchard, who survived him. He became Poet Laureate in 1984, and received the Order of Merit just before his death. He died in London in October 1998. By his first wife, he had one son and one daughter.

Access Information

Usual EUL arrangements apply.

Other Finding Aids

Not currently listed.

Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Charlotte Berry, Archivist, 10 December 2004, and encoded into EAD 3 June 2005.

Conditions Governing Use

Usual EUL restrictions apply.

Custodial History

Purchased from the USA by the University Library in 2004 with assistance from MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund and the Friends of the National Libraries.

Related Material

Three other collections relating to Hughes are held by the University of Exeter: EUL MS 58, EUL MS 132 and EUL MS 192. Other papers relating to Ted Hughes are held at the following repositories: University of Birmingham (Sceptre Press Archive); Emory University, USA (Robert W. Woodruff Library).


It is not known whether publication has resulted from use of this collection.