Friday, April 20, 2012

Ted Hughes's brother to publish memoir

The poet's older brother Gerald is writing recollection of the boys' childhood in Yorkshire

Ted Hughes
From boy to bard … Ted Hughes's upbringing in Yorkshire, which provided the natural material for his poetry, will feature in a memoir by his brother Gerald. Photograph: Jane Bown

Ted Hughes's 92-year-old brother, Gerald, is writing a memoir about the two boys' country upbringing, which will show how the poet's well-known love of nature developed in childhood.

Ted and I, by Gerald Hughes, is due this autumn from The Robson Press. Publisher Jeremy Robson, a poet who gave readings with Ted Hughes, acquired the book after Ted Hughes's daughter Frieda mentioned that her uncle had written a memoir about his upbringing in the Yorkshire village of Mytholmroyd.

"Frieda and I were having a long lunch, and she mentioned that her uncle had written a memoir and asked if I'd like to see it. What a question!" Robson said at the London Book Fair this week. "It's an evocative account of their childhood together, roaming the fields, fishing, shooting – all the material for Ted's later poems, and a good deal more."

Gerald is Ted's older brother. A former gamekeeper, he emigrated to Australia in 1952, but the brothers continued to write frequently to each other. In 1962, the poet wrote to Gerald about his separation from Sylvia Plath, telling him: "The one factor that nobody but quite close friends can comprehend, is Sylvia's particular death-ray quality. In many of the most important ways, she's the most gifted and capable and admirable woman I've ever met – but, finally, impossible for me to live married to."

Gerald began writing the memoir in his 80s, and it now stretches to about 70,000 words. It will include family photos, a foreword from Frieda and will point out the locations that inspired some of the poet laureate's poetry, such as the pike pond behind the 1959 poem Pike. "It was as deep as England. It held / Pike too immense to stir, so immense and old," runs the poem.

The memoir is "really charming", said Robson, and will appeal to both fans and scholars of Hughes's work.

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