Carol Hughes donation boosts Huddersfield's Ted Hughes archive
The University of Huddersfield has announced a major addition to its archival collection of materials relating to Ted Hughes. The widow of the former poet laureate, Carol Hughes has made a significant donation to the University of Huddersfield’s Ted Hughes collection on the 25th anniversary of his death.
The materials – primarily comprising of a large quantity of Hughes’s small press and limited-edition work, but also including letters, drafts of work in progress, photographs and artwork – were gifted to the university’s archive at Heritage Quay to mark the 25th anniversary of her late husband’s death on 28 October, 1998.
Highlights of the donation include unpublished sketches of Hughes by RJ Lloyd and Elizabeth Cook, and a folder of correspondence between Carol Hughes and the late Donald Crossley, a Mytholmroyd-based childhood friend of Ted who renewed acquaintance with him in later life, subsequently producing a body of research into Remains of Elmet and other upper-Calder Valley-focused works.
The small press and limited edition works include multiple copies of dozens of rare, valuable and striking works, virtually all of them signed and dated by Hughes and his collaborators. Among the many highlights are the huge Scholar Press Cave Birds, with etchings by the American artist Leonard Baskin; The Threshold, published by the Steam Press, with ink-drawings by Ralph Steadman, and another opulent collaboration with Baskin, the Gehenna Press A Primer of Birds.’
Carol Hughes said: “I am pleased to support the collection of Hughes materials at the University of Huddersfield, and given the enthusiasm of Rebecca Bowd and Steve Ely, I feel sure the archive will continue to grow and develop in the years to come.”
Steve Ely, director of the Ted Hughes Network, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to receive these materials from Carol and wish to thank her for her incredible generosity and support. Her gift will significantly enhance and complement our existing collections. It will also provide a resource to allow further acquisitions, and to promote scholarly and public engagement with our Hughes collections - part of the donation is a large deposit of copies of rare Hughes limited editions, and these will be sold to collectors on the rare book market, with profits going to support and develop our Hughes collections.
“The works are not merely valuable, but they also cast light on Hughes’s creative process and the way he worked to bring his small press works to publication and market, often producing multiple minutely different versions of publications, or variant editions: a copy of The Threshold with gilt edging to the pages, a copy of Earth-moon with a cork inlay cover, pages of handwritten drafts inserted into copies of Cave Birds, and the addition of small ink drawings of birds next to his signature in copies of the Sceptre Press, A Crow Hymn.”