Leonard Baskin and Ted Hughes collection

Scope and Content

This collection consists of a range of prints, including etchings, woodcuts, woodblocks, lithographs and watercolours; books, drawings and correspondence from Leonard Baskin to Ted Hughes and catalogues by Baskin and the Gehenna Press. Many of the items are artists' proofs and are signed and annotated to Ted and Carol Hughes.

Included in the collection are limited edition Gehenna Press books of Baskin's collaborations with Ted Hughes including 'Howls and Whispers', 'Oresteia' and 'Mokomaki' and other, often artists' copies, limited edition Gehenna Press books illustrated by Baskin including 'Diptera', 'Hermaika' and 'Nature's Mould'.

There are also catalogues and flyers for individual works published by Gehenna Press, a Catalogue Raisonne of Baskin's work, exhibition posters, printing plates, and books illustrated by Leonard Baskin.

Administrative / Biographical History

Leonard Baskin was born in 1922 in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and brought up in Brooklyn. He had his first exhibition of sculpture in New York at the age of seventeen and went on to study at Yale University followed by the New School for Social Research between 1941 and 1949. In 1953 he began teaching printmaking and sculpture at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, where he remained until 1974. He moved to Lurley, Tiverton, Devon in 1974 close to his friend, Ted Hughes, and stayed till 1983 when he returned to America. He died in 2000.

Baskin founded the Gehenna Press in 1942 while at Yale, and in 1956 the press moved to Northampton, Massachusetts. From the start it specialised in fine book production, its first publication being a collection of Baskin's own poems. Not long after the press had moved, Baskin began a lasting collaborative friendship with Ted Hughes, poet laureate, when they met at Smith College in 1959, where Hughes was teaching at the time. This friendship continued until Hughes' death and proved to be a very fruitful period of collaboration between the artist and the poet producing works such as 'Pike' (1959), 'Crow' (1970), 'Season Songs', (1975), 'Cave Birds' (1975, 1978, EUL MS 58), 'Under the North Star' (1981, EUL MS 263) 'Capriccio' and 'Oresteia', (1990, 2001, EUL MS 349).

From the time Baskin moved to Devon in 1974 until Ted Hughes' death in 1998 Baskin sent signed proofs of his work to Ted and Carol Hughes. An extremly talented sculptor, he created a relief bronze of Ted Hughes in profile in 1978, and another entitled 'Weeping Angel', as a memorial piece.


Some groups of items are collated by book or project, other large scale works were presented individually in frames.

Access Information

Usual EUL conditions apply

Acquisition Information

Directly from the estate of Ted Hughes.

Other Finding Aids

Partial list

Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Christine Faunch, Archive Curator, 3 March 2009. Modified 31 March 2009 and 28 Aug 2009. Revised by Christine Faunch, Head of Heritage Collections, 5 Mar 2013.

Conditions Governing Use

No reproduction is permitted without the prior permission of the Baskin Estate.


None expected

Related Material

There is a small collection of proofs in EUL MS 349.


Many of the items have been published by Leonard Baskin's own press, the Gehenna Press.