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Doncaster Features: Famous Doncastrian: Ted Hughes

Poet Ted Hughes (17 August 1930 – 28 October 1998) was one of the best poets of his generation.
Poet Ted Hughes, grew up in Mexborough, Doncaster
Hughes was British Poet Laureate from 1984 until his death.

Hughes was married to celebrated American poet Sylvia Plath, from 1956 until her suicide in 1963 at the age of 30.

Hughes was born in Mytholmroyd, West Yorkshire, and when he was 7 years old his family moved to 75 Main Street, Mexborough where he attended Schofield Street junior school.

His parents ran a newsagent's and tobacconist's shop. His earliest poem "The Thought Fox", and earliest story "The Rain Horse" were recollections of the area.

Locally he explored Manor Farm at Old Denaby, which he said he would come to know "better than any place on earth".

A close friend at the time, John Wholly, took Hughes to the Crookhill estate above Conisbrough where the boys spent great swathes of time. Hughes became close to the family and learnt a lot about wildlife from Wholly's father, a game keeper.

His love of poetry was sparked when he moved up to Mexborough Grammar School. He recalled teachers Miss McLeod and Pauline Mayne introducing him to the poets Hopkins and Eliot. He was mentored by his sister Olwyn, who was well versed in poetry, and other teachers such as John Fisher (poet Harold Massingham visited the school and was a student of Fisher).

In 1946 one of his earliest published poems, "Wild West" and a short story were printed in the school's official magazine The Don and Dearne, followed by further poems in 1948.

That year he won an open exhibition in English at the Pembroke College, Cambridge, but chose to do his National Service first. In 1951 he took up a place at Pembroke College.

More Doncastrian Poets»

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