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The Ted Hughes Letters : Excerpts

Richard Armitage read from the letters of poet Ted Hughes in BBC Radio 4's Afternoon Play on 29th October 2007.

His readings were introduced by the novelist Jane Feaver, who knew Hughes when she worked for his publisher, Faber & Faber. Below are some excerpts from the programme.



Much of Ted Hughes' poetry drew its inspiration from the natural world. In this extract, Hughes talks about his childhood obssession with wild animals.




In this letter to Sylvia Plath written in October 1956, the year they met and married, Ted Hughes gave her advice on writing.




After a few years in America, Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath returned to England. In this letter, written in December 1960 to his mother-in-law Aurelia, he talked about fame and fatherhood. His first child, Frieda, had recently been born.



Sylvia Plath's death

Hughes' marriage to Sylvia Plath broke down in 1962, hastened by the affair he began that year with Assia Wevill. By the autumn, they had separated. In February 1963, Sylvia killed herself. Shortly afterwards, he wrote to his sister Olwyn, and a month later, to Sylvia's mother, Aurelia.



Assia Wevill's death

His relationship with Assia lasted several more years, but was not without problems. In March 1969, she too killed herself, in the same manner as Sylvia had done, by gassing herself. She also killed their daughter, Shura. This letter was written to Assia's sister, Celia Chaikin, a few weeks later.




At the end of the programme, Richard Armitage read a poem that Ted Hughes had written when he was 19 years old, 'Song'.


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The Ted Hughes Letters : Introduction | Excerpts
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