by Elaine Connell who maintains the Sylvia Plath Forum
Ted Hughes, the late Poet Laureate, was born at 1, Aspinall Street, Mytholmroyd on 17th. August 1930. He was the youngest of the three children of William and Edith Hughes (nee Farrar) who were both from well established Calder Valley families.
His father was one of the few survivors of his regiment which had been massacred during the Gallipoli campaign in the First World War. Hughes himself felt that the terrible experiences of his father dominated his childhood. In his poem Out which deals with the effects of the war on his family and the Calder Valley he writes:
The shrapnel that shattered my fathers paybook
Gripped me, and all his dead
Gripped him to a time
He no more than they could outgrow,..
In 1971, he married Carol Orchard a nurse.
In 1984,Hughes became Poet Laureate, the highest honour which can be accorded to a poet writing in English. His work had received a great deal of recognition from very early in his career. In 1958, his first collection The Hawk In The Rain won the Harpers Poetry Prize and he has won several major literary awards since then including two Whitbread Poetry awards for Tales From Ovid and Birthday Letters.
In the years following her death Hughes refused to discuss Sylvia Plath. Therefore the literary world was startled in January 1998 when he published Birthday Letters a collection of poems about his life with her. Shortly, after Sylvias death Hughes had remarked to a friend that, "The time to write about Sylvia Plath is when youre dying." Although it was a well kept secret Hughes was actually suffering from terminal cancer and died in October of that year.
Although he lived most of his adult life outside of Mytholmroyd and the Calder Valley it remained a major source of inspiration for his poetry. One collection The Remains of Elmet deals exclusively with the Calder Valley which he claimed was originally the kingdom of Elmet, the last Celtic land to fall to the Anglo-Saxons. In The Rock, an autobiographical prose piece about his early childhood, he describes Scout Rock, the large geographical feature which dominates the Mytholmroyd landscape.