Emory's holdings in modern literature gained significant depth with Woodruff Library's recent acquisition of the literary papers of the English Poet Laureate Ted Hughes. This extensive archive, with a shipping weight of 5,000 pounds, includes many drafts of poems from each of Hughes' published collections as well as literary correspondence, photographs and related materials.
"The University is very pleased that we have been able to acquire the papers of Ted Hughes," said President Bill Chace, who is a modern English literature scholar. "His contribution to English poetry has been powerful and immensely influential. Indeed, his being named poet laureate came in recognition of the ways in which he has changed English poetic statement. He has been among those who have made it more forceful, immediate, visceral and disturbing. In addition, his affinity with some of the leading poets of Northern Ireland makes the arrival of his papers at Emory particularly appropriate, for our collection has thus gained greater coherence and depth."
The collection will be located in Woodruff Library's Special Collections Department, which has strong modern literature holdings including works by W.B. Yeats and his circle and extensive holdings in contemporary Irish poetry. (See web site at <www. emory.edu/LIB/schome.htm>.)
Hughes has been England's poet laureate since 1984. His numerous publications include critically acclaimed poetry, including The Hawk in the Rain, Lupercal, Wodwo, Crow, Moortown and Wolfwatching; many books for children; as well as plays, short stories, translations and anthologies. The School Bag, co-edited by Hughes and Seamus Heaney, has just been published by Faber and Faber. An extensive web site on Hughes can be found at <www.uni-leipzig.del~angl/ hughes.htm>.
According to Keith Sagar, Hughes' bibliographer, this vast archive "must be the most important such archive in the whole field of poetry in English of the second half of the 20th century, not only because of Hughes' preeminence among the poets of the period, but also because of the extent to which a study of his manuscripts can help bring us to a full and deep realization of his poetic achievement and the nature and workings of the poetic imagination itself."
Steve Enniss, curator of literary collections in Special Collections, shipped the collection from England earlier this month. "Emory was contacted because of the library's strong modern literature holdings," said Enniss, who supervised the unloading of the 86 boxes that contained the Hughes papers when they arrived at Emory on March 5. The library has been building its modern literature collections since the late 1970s when Richard Ellmann, noted biographer of James Joyce, joined the Emory faculty.
Enniss noted there was support for the acquisition of Hughes' papers not only from the library, but also from across campus, including Graduate School Dean Don Stein and Emory College Dean David Bright, as well as English Professor Ronald Schuchard. "His papers will be of enormous teaching and scholarly use," Schuchard said. "Hughes is not only the English poet laureate, but because of his editing and correspondence with other poets, he's really an international poet laureate. His outreach is international, and his papers here will draw scholars from around the world who want to study his manuscripts and correspondence."
Schuchard has been teaching Hughes' work at Emory since the 1970s and last fall taught a graduate poetry seminar on his work. Schuchard says he plans to direct students to the archive for original, independent research and hopes that students will use the papers to write theses and dissertations.
Hughes was born on Aug. 17, 1930, in Mytholmroyd, a small mill town in West Yorkshire, England. The family moved to Mexborough, a coal-mining town in South Yorkshire, when Hughes was 7. After attending local grammar school, Hughes won an Open Exhibition to Pembroke College, Cambridge. Before going to Cambridge in 1951, he served two years in the Royal Air Force. While at Cambridge, Hughes met and married the American poet Sylvia Plath in 1956. Hughes began writing poetry while at Cambridge but worked as a teacher and various other jobs before turning to writing full time.
Over his literary career, Hughes has been the recipient of numerous literary honors and awards, among them the Guinness Poetry Award in 1958, the Somerset Maugham Award in 1960, the Hawthornden Prize in 1961, the City of Florence International Poetry Prize in 1969, the Premio Internazionale Taormina in 1973 and the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry in 1974.
After Plath's death in 1963, Hughes played an active role in seeing her unpublished writing into print. In 1970, he married Carol Orchard with whom he lives in the county of Devon, England.
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