Ted Hughes OM OBE 90th Birthday Tribute. Monday, 17 August 2020, marks what would have been the 90th birthday of one of North Tawton’s most celebrated residents, the former Poet Laureate, Ted Hughes, who lived in the town at Court Green for nearly four decades until his death in 1998.
Born in West Yorkshire in 1930, Ted Hughes won recognition for his first collection of poems, “The Hawk in the Rain,” while still in his twenties and went on to write prolifically for the next 40 years, creating a diverse body of work – from poetry and prose for adults and children to memorable theatre adaptations and translations. He is rated by many critics as one of the 20th century’s greatest British writers.
The natural world and our relationship with it is one of the most abiding themes in his work, from early poems such as “The Thought Fox” and “Pike” through to his classic children’s story, “The Iron Man” – still, one of the author’s best-selling books more than 50 years after he wrote it for his own children. His “Moortown Diary” is of particular local interest – poems recording the years spent farming near Winkleigh in the 1970s with his father in law, Jack Orchard.
Hughes was also a passionate campaigner for the environment, especially the water quality of Devon’s rivers where he spent much time as an avid fisherman. In a long career, he garnered many literary awards – including the Whitbread Prize for his last poetry collection, “Birthday Letters,” exploring his relationship with his first wife, the American poet, novelist, and short-story writer, Sylvia Plath.
In 1970, he married Carol Orchard, who still lives in Court Green, North Tawton, the home Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath acquired in 1961.
Hughes was appointed Poet Laureate in 1984, the last person to hold the position for life, and was awarded the prestigious Order of Merit by the Queen, just before he died in 1998.
Edward James Hughes “Ted” OM OBE (17 August 1930 – 28 October 1998) Author.
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