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My latest Spectator comment: What has Ted Hughes's ancestor got to do with his poetry?

Updated: Dec 20, 2023


“Scandalously, we never studied Ted Hughes at school. As the Poet Laureate is arguably the finest British poet of the 20th century this would be a scandal wherever I attended ('studied' would be pushing it) but I attended Calder High in Ted’s home town of Mytholmroyd. Though the grand total of my published poems stands at seven, we share connections, Ted and I. When my first novel was published — set in a fictionalised version of the Calder Valley — I was a guest of the Ted Hughes Festival. As a teenager in the 1980s, I tended Sylvia Plath’s grave. By then Ted was already a bogeyman for some of the area’s more dour feminists, blamed as he was for Plath’s suicide…”


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