Ted Hughes: The Unauthorised Biography

A captivating life of Ted Hughes, told with great depth by the prize winning author of The Genius of Shakespeare, and biographer of John Clare, Jonathan Bate.Ted Hughes, Poet Laureate, was one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century With an equal gift for poetry and prose, he had a magnetic personality and an insatiable appetite for friendship, for love and for lA captivating life of Ted Hughes, told with great depth by the prize winning author of The Genius of Shakespeare, and biographer of John Clare, Jonathan Bate.Ted Hughes, Poet Laureate, was one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century With an equal gift for poetry and prose, he had a magnetic personality and an insatiable appetite for friendship, for love and for life.But he attracted scandal than any poet since Lord Byron.Renowned scholar Sir Jonathan Bate has spent five years in his archives, unearthing a wealth of new material Here for the first time is the full story of Ted Hughes s life and work At its centre is Hughes s lifelong quest to come to terms with the suicide of his first wife, Sylvia Plath.
Ted Hughes The Unauthorised Biography A captivating life of Ted Hughes told with great depth by the prize winning author of The Genius of Shakespeare and biographer of John Clare Jonathan Bate Ted Hughes Poet Laureate was one of the

  • Title: Ted Hughes: The Unauthorised Biography
  • Author: Jonathan Bate
  • ISBN: 9780008118228
  • Page: 219
  • Format: Hardcover
  • 1 thought on “Ted Hughes: The Unauthorised Biography”

    1. Bate's title 'the unauthorised life is a neat pun that encapsulates his approach: on one hand it's referring to the extensive Hughes archive, the place where Hughes is his unadorned and naked self; on the other, it foregrounds the way in which the Hughes estate, after agreeing to Bate's proposal, withdrew their support for this book, feeling that it was too intrusive. It may well be - but isn't that what we want from a biography? a sense of intimacy, however voyeuristic? And to what extent is an [...]

    2. When Ted Hughes published Birthday Letters in 1998 it became the fastest selling poetry title in history. Critics were astounded, readers old and young were converted, prizes were scooped. Comparisons were drawn with erupting volcanoes, and, for once, it was no mere hyperbole. There was a feeling of immense pressure forcing the poems upwards, outwards. These were poems that had to be written. The story of how that pressure gathered and why is the burden of this engaging biography.Though not the [...]

    3. I have just finished this book in the last twenty minutes or so and am still in the throes of reading it. This was a glorious read for many reasons but perhaps the most important one is that it has given me a brand new and utterly rounded account of Ted Hughes as a poet, father, lover and husband.I have never read his poetry and only knew him as the dubious Mr Sylvia Plath who presumably was the cause of her suicide. Then I learned his second wife went the same way but this time involving their [...]

    4. Fascinating and clearly well-researched from the biographical point of view. But the thing that really excites me for the rest is Bate's obvious scholarly and literary understanding of Hughes' poetry and why and how he wrote it. Sadly, I had to sit with my Collected Poems of Ted Hughes as Bate wasn't allowed to quote from Hughes' poetry directly except in a few careful sections using fair dealing. He's paraphrasing. This is a huge shame and the Hughes estate has made quite a blunder in refusing [...]

    5. Although I did not have this book on my list here, I did purchase it several months back and completed it this weekend. First off -- any book by Jonathan Bate, in my experience, is an excellent experience. I can recommend his two biographies of Shakespeare, one on John Clare, and another favorite of mine that he edited called Stressed, Unstressed (a book of poetry for help in life).Hughes is a great poet with a very complicated life. I won't say tragic life, although there were tragedies that ha [...]

    6. Great poets like Ted Hughes deserve great biographies. This is a very good one, if not great. The qualifier seems necessary because there were limitations placed on the biographer Jonathan Bate. The first to be given access to the huge archive of Hughes's unpublished writings, permission was later revoked by the widow, Carol Hughes, ostensibly because he was uncovering too much of the libertine and not enough of the literary. Hughes famously--or infamously--was a womanizer and had many affairs, [...]

    7. What a rueful concession for a biographer to make: Ted Hughes remains “her husband,” the poet who presided over what — in a remorseful moment — Hughes himself called the murder of Sylvia Plath.In an exculpatory narrative, Jonathan Bate tries to reverse the momentum of literary history, making Plath the wife of Ted Hughes, poet laureate and winner of virtually all the important poetry prizes. This canny biographer succeeds in his aim, but at a terrible cost to his subject. Plath continues [...]

    8. An impressive feat of scholarship to mine through the archive and come up with something resembling the definitive biography. A real tour-de-force! Certainly a massive step forward on the partial efforts that have come before. The strongest point is that he lets the story tell itself: it is a hell of a story: a true great tragedy of a life and a glorious achievement of a life at the same time. The scholarly element is actually superbly discreet (in that it hides itself in the story). The works a [...]

    9. Probably the best book that I've read so far this year. Jonathan Bate's biography of my favourite poet is extensive and detailed. He breathes life into every section of Hughes' story, painting a considered portrait of the man and all of his contradictions, all of his successes, all of his shortcomings. On top of this Bate also offers the reader a wealth of commentary on the composition of his poetic output and the multitude of ways he tried to make sense of, and reckon with the events of his lif [...]

    10. This is honestly the best biography I have ever read. Bate has written an honest, clear, account of a phenomenal poet and complex, troubled man - no easy feat. Over the years I have come to appreciate Hughes' poetry, although it is often too veiled in myth and symbol for me to fully grasp. I have also come to admire Hughes as a man of immense intelligence and feeling. This has been an evolution over time - At one point in my life, I was absolutely enamored with Sylvia Plath - I read her poems ob [...]

    11. Having come of age in the 1980s when there was still a lot of Hughes hate by American feminists, I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. In fact, I had little plan to read it entirely. I planned instead to read the interesting bits (read, that is, the bits about his life with his wife, the poet Sylvia Plath) and be done with it. Instead, I found here a nearly masterful biography that tells the story of Hughes's biographical and literary life, yes. But according to this author--whose biograp [...]

    12. Ted Hughes: The Unauthorised Life by Jonathan Bate is an insightful and candid tome that reveals the subject's relationship with his wife, Sylvia Plath, author of "The Bell Jar", among other works, and the profound effects of her suicide on him, in many ways. It is a celebration of his life and work, but is also somewhat sad and depressing. When reading, expect to get a greater sense of the profound darkness that haunted Mr. Hughes after his wife's death. He survived and even thrived in many way [...]

    13. As a long time Plath obsessive, this was a book I had to read. Previously my knowledge of Hughes was pretty much limited to his relationship with her, and this excellent unauthorized biography greatly expanded that. The author's critical reading of Hughes' work is very insightful; I found the comparisons with Wordsworth to be especially interesting. Ultimately the impression I had of Hughes is that his life was forever linked to and overshadowed by Plath's; their brief marriage the core of his e [...]

    14. This book is very thorough in both its biography and literary criticism. It's a bit uneven in structure (for example, the will be a section of biography and suddenly will diverge into critical analysis of work). While I enjoyed the larger scope of this work, I can only recommend it to readers who are serious about Plath/Hughes scholarship. The casual reader might be put off a 600+ page tome of intensive analysis of these lives and their combined works.

    15. There are many things that are impressive about this biography, but above all, it is absolutely beautifully written. Never a word of out place. Jonathan Bate does not judge Ted Hughes. He explains a very tragic and complicated personal and creative life with consummate skill and a singular lack of moral or social judgement.

    16. I am lost for words. Lost in thought. Still digesting this majestic read. In one word 'Sublime'When I go back and remember Dec. 1st 2015 I will always remember reluctantly returning this elgant book back to my local library. I now am off to buy a copy.

    17. Stunning. It's rare that a biography is this well written - not just in terms of its incredible grasp of subject but also its beautiful and suitable prose. I was compelled to read even the Notes at end.

    18. An authoritative biography that gives equal weight to Hughes personal life and his literary achievements. Intelligent and thoughtful, Bate addresses controversial issues and corrects many misapprehensions.

    19. In the last chapter of this book, musing on 'The Legacy', Bate suggests that Hughes most admired those biographies of writers that honoured 'the complicated relationship between art and life'. This is clearly what he has set out to do in this unauthorised life, although he acknowledges that no biographer can tell the whole truth and what results is (quoting Hughes himself) "never more than provisional, distorted by human interprepation."Although there is some controversy about this interpretatio [...]

    20. Excellent biography of a colossal life. Read Wuthering Heights, Ariel, The Birthday Letters, Shakespeare's complete plays, The Hawk In The Rain, Lupercal, Crow. and then read this again. Truly inspirational.

    21. An extremely readable and knowledgable biography that engagingly embraces the whole of the poet's complex and complicated life and flags up the areas of the late Ted Hughes' history where it cannot, or has chosen not to, go. The implication being that there are still revelations to come when time and sensitivity to those closest to Ted and still living permit.I found the book insightful, thought-provoking, informative, but not un-critical. An intelligent biography and an extremely good read. My [...]

    22. This is a ground-breaking biography by the Oxford academic Jonathan Bate. He gives a fully balanced portrait of very complex and multi-faceted personality. In view of the estate's withdrawal of co-operation Bates has pulled off the impossible - the first biography of Hughes that dares to go where previous authors feared to tread out of deference to the widow. Using previously unavailable archive material Bates presents us with unedifying aspects of Hughes' character - that Hughes was a sexually [...]

    23. A biography of English poet Ted Hughes (1930-98).Fair play Jonathan Bate. Ted Hughes: The Unauthorised Life is an excellent, even-handed, and thorough rendition of the Poet Laureate's life and times. A balanced, equitable, and nuanced account, Bate isn't afraid to probe Hughes' psychology as well as his past. The author makes clear in stunning detail the enormous effect that Sylvia Plath's life and death had on the whole of his life and work, and how much of himself and his work Hughes lost due [...]

    24. Wonderfully researched, even though hamstrung by Carol Hughes' late refusal to grant key permissions, this book surely lays to rest any reservations over Ted Hughes' status as one of the great poets of the 20th Century. It also provides a deeply nuanced view and analysis of the man himself and the bottled up remorse and love that underpinned his late work Birthday Letters; what it didn't do for me, and probably could never do, was exonerate Hughes' unsavory and self-indulged behavior and persona [...]

    25. If there's a bit too much of the defence of Ted against the 'Libbers', it doesn't spoil the book, or the book's love Hughes as POET, more than man. While the central relationship of all his life (with Plath) dominates, it's seen as dominating as much in his poetry, and final release in 'Birthday Letters', as it is in his life.And, like all good biographies of this kind, it got me back to the poetry itself, pulling my old copy of 'The Hawk in the Rain' down from the bookshelf, and re-hearing that [...]

    26. The author has undertaken a momumental task. He shows true sensitivity on so many levels: not only the history of a complicated man and his very messy history, but also in the interpretation of Hughes' poetry. I feel myself haunted by his girlfriend Shirley: the woman he was seeing while at Cambridge, just before Sylvia charged into his life. I wish he had told us what happened to her. He did say they never met again. I "know" Shirley. So well.

    27. I have never had a problem loving the poetry of both Hughes and Plath. I have read prose, letters and criticism of both and have always felt there are 2 sides to this story. Jonathan Bate has written an extraordinary biography and more than deserves to be up for the Samuel Johnson Prize. It is a balanced account which honestly presents Hughes as both poetic hero and flawed man. Bate is sympathetic without naivety, admiring without gushing. An absorbing and incredibly moving book.

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