Ted Hughes' widow withdraws biography support

Ted Hughes' widow withdraws biography support

Ted Hughes' widow Carol has withdrawn her co-operation on a biography of the poet by academic Jonathan Bate planned for publication with HarperCollins, according to a Sunday Times report.

Bate, an English professor at Oxford, had been working on the biography for four years, using material such as journals, diaries and unpublished poems from Hughes' archive, with the blessing of Carol Hughes.

However, the poet's widow has now withdrawn her blessing, telling Bate he could no longer use the documents in his research.

Bate told the newspaper: "It makes me wonder if there is some secret is being guarded. Of course, I would have to make some references to his love life, but that itself was so important to his poetry. The point is that everything he did in a remarkable life fed into his writing."

Carol Hughes did not comment on the story.

Material Bate had uncovered included an unpublished poem showing Hughes' attempt to reconcile with his first wife, poet Sylvia Plath, before her suicide in 1963.

Hughes married Carol Orchard in 1970, a year after his German partner Assia Wevill took her own life.

Bate's biography is due to be published by HarperCollins' imprint William Collins in autumn 2015.

On Friday (28th March), Maggie Sawkins was awarded the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry for her piece, Zones of Avoidance. The multi-media production, written and performed by Sawkings, was first performed at the Portsmouth Bookfest in October 2013, and follows the narrator exploring the world of drugs after her daughter's descent into addiction.

The £5,000 prize is gifted by poet Carol Ann Duffy, from the honorarium granted to the poet laureate by the Queen. The judging panel was made up of Sean Borodale, Eileen Cooper and Denise Riley. The prize is administered by The Poetry Society.