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Ted Hughes (1930 - 1998) was considered by many as one of the greatest poets of the 20th Century. Hughes' life was as dramatic and extraordinary as his poetry.
A Yorkshire man, he was the husband of the American Poet, Sylvia Plath, who committed suicide in 1963 by gassing herself. Plath left Hughes with their two very young children to look after. His next love, Assia Wevill, also killed herself and their daughter, Shura. After wandering between Devon and Ireland in the 1960s, Hughes re-married in 1970 and settled in Devon.
Hughes is famous for ridding poetry of a 'twee', 'cuddly', prettified view of the natural world, a view that had dominated poetry in the first half of the century.
For Hughes, nature was grand, majestic, beautiful, and red in tooth and claw. His poems are as full of the violence, brutality and terror of nature, the eternal battle for survival, as they are of images of glory and beauty in nature.
Having studied Native American cultures whilst at Cambridge University, Hughes was fascinated with the idea of 'animism'- a belief that such things as stones, rivers and trees have spirits. This interest is linked to Hughes use of personification and can be seen in poems like 'Hawk Roosting', 'Wind', and 'Tractor'.
In recognition of his standing, Hughes was made poet Laureate in 1984.