British Library acquires rare Ted Hughes edition alongside Sylvia Plath broadcasts

PUBLISHED: 15:13 14 April 2010 | UPDATED: 16:55 07 September 2010

The British Library has acquired an annotated edition of Saint Botolph s Review from the widow of the former Poet Laureate, Ted Hughes, one of its creators, thanks to the generous support of the Friends of the British Library. It is one of only three copi

The British Library has acquired an annotated edition of Saint Botolph's Review from the widow of the former Poet Laureate, Ted Hughes, one of its creators, thanks to the generous support of the Friends of the British Library. It is one of only three copies of the review held in public institutions in the UK and the only one that contains handwritten annotations.

Alongside the acquisition of Saint Botolph's Review, the British Library publishes a new audio CD of Sylvia Plath speaking as poet, interviewee and critic. The Spoken Word: Sylvia Plath features previously unpublished material including all her surviving BBC broadcasts. It includes Plath reading some of her most popular poems and a rare recording of Plath and Hughes talking about their creative work, their relationship and what it's like being married to your muse.

The first edition of the Saint Botolph's Review was created by Hughes with his Cambridge friends and contemporaries, Lucas Myers, Daniel Huws, David Ross and Daniel Weissbort in February 1956. The magazine featured poetry and prose written by its contributors and included the first poems Hughes published under his own name (he had previously had poetry published under the pseudonyms, Daniel Hearing and Peter Crew). The magazine was named after the rectory in Cambridge where Myers lived.

It was at a party to celebrate the launch of the magazine that Hughes met his first wife, Sylvia Plath as he documented in his poem, 'St Botolph's' published in Birthday Letters in 1998. The final portion of Ted Hughes' archive which the British Library acquired in 2008 has been fully catalogued and will be accessible to researchers through the Library's Reading Rooms at St Pancras from May. It contains all Hughes' poetic drafts and notes relating to Birthday Letters from its inception through to publication. One notebook includes a longer unpublished version of the poem 'St Botolph's' in which Hughes describes at length the pleasure that he and his fellow creators felt when they finished the first edition of the review.

Helen Broderick, Curator of Modern Literary Manuscripts at the British Library, said:

"The British Library is a major centre for Hughes scholars thanks to the Library's acquisition of a large Ted Hughes' archive in 2008 as well as other collections of correspondence with Hughes' friends and critics including the artist and sculptor, Leonard Baskin. This acquisition of an annotated first edition of the Saint Botolph's Review offers researchers insight into Hughes' early work and will I hope lead to further research into his life and development as a poet and writer.


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