A magisterial life of Ted Hughes - identified recently as the only English poet since the First World War with a claim to true greatness and one of Britain's most important writers - to be published on National Poetry Day by prize-winning biographer Jonathan Bate.
Ted Hughes, Poet Laureate, was one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. He is one of Britain's most important poets, a poet of claws and cages: Jaguar, Hawk and Crow.
Event and animal are turned to myth in his work. Yet he is also a poet of deep tenderness, of restorative memory steeped in the English literary tradition. A poet of motion and force, of rivers, light and redemption, of beasts in brooding landscapes.
With an equal gift for poetry and prose, and with a soul as capacious as any poet who has lived, he was also a prolific children's writer and has been hailed as the greatest English letter writer since John Keats. With his magnetic personality and an insatiable appetite for friendship, for love and for life, he also attracted more scandal than any poet since Lord Byron.
At the centre of the book is Hughes' lifelong quest to come to terms with the suicide of his first wife, Sylvia Plath, the saddest and most infamous moment in the public history of modern poetry. Ted Hughes left behind him a more complete archive of notes and journals than any other major poet, including thousands of pages of drafts, unpublished poems and memorandum books that make up an almost complete record of Hughes' inner life, preserved by him for posterity.
Renowned scholar Sir Jonathan Bate has spent five years in his archives, unearthing a wealth of new material. His book offers for the first time the full story of Ted Hughes' life as it was lived, remembered and reshaped in his art. It is a book that honours, though not uncritically, Ted Hughes' poetry and the art of life writing, approached by his biographer with an honesty answerable to Hughes' own.
©2015 Jonathan Bate (P)2015 HarperCollins Publishers Limited
Praise for Jonathan Bate: "Absolutely dazzling - illuminates the whole man and the influence he has in our lives." (Simon Callow, Sunday Express)
"Occupies the territory of biography, literary criticism, theatrical and social history, and a journey across its landscape is one of constant delight and illumination." (Sir Richard Eyre, Financial Times)
"The best book about Shakespeare for a generation." (Philip Howard, The Times)
"As brilliant an account of the Bard's iconic universality as you could hope to find." (Michael Billington, Guardian)
"The theme of this wonderfully written, diverse book is diversity itself, and the range of the essays serves only to confirm the disparate nature of Shakespeare's achievement." (Peter Ackroyd, The Times)
"The liveliest and most intelligent general book on Shakespeare I have read for a long time." (John Gross, Sunday Telegraph)
Audio books have been an incredible discovery
Having read read much of and about Hughes I feel this is an incredibly fair, honest, and insightful work about a very private, flawed but brilliant man. It is also inevitably serves as Plath's biography and deals with her in an equally fair and honest manner, which is not always the case in works about these two giants of poetry. I think this is the new benchmark when it comes to Hughes.
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