The Page is Printed

BookThe Page is Printed

The Page is Printed

Ted Hughes's Creative Process

Liverpool English Texts and Studies, 88


September 15th, 2021

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Does it matter when and where a poem was written? Or on what kind of paper? How do the author’s ideas about inspiration or how a poem should be written precondition the moment of putting pen to paper? This monograph explores these questions in offering the first full-length study of Ted Hughes’s poetic process. Hughes’s extensive archives held in the UK and US form the basis of the book’s unique exploration of his writing process. It analyses Hughes’s techniques throughout his career, arguing that his self-conscious experimentation with the processes by which he wrote profoundly affected both the style and subject matter of his work. The book considers Hughes’s changing ideas about how poetry ‘ought’ to be written, discussing how these affect his creative process. It presents a fresh exploration of Hughes’s major collections across the span of his career to build a detailed illustration of how his writing methods altered. The book thus restores the materiality of paper and ink to Hughes’s poems, reading their histories, the stories they tell of their composition, and of the intellectual and creative environments in which they were gestated, born and matured. In the process, it offers a template for new approaches in authorship studies, reframing one of the twentieth century’s most iconic literary figures through the unseen histories of his creative process.

'The Page is Printed is the first book-length examination of Hughes to pay due attention to the poet’s complex and shifting attitudes towards composition, revision and creative collaboration. Drawing on authorship studies, archival methodologies and genetic criticism, and grounded in extensive research in Hughes’s papers, Smith provides the most detailed account to date of the workshop in which the poetry was forged. The result is a study rich in fresh and exciting insights into both individual poems and the oeuvre as a whole.'

Alex Davis, University College Cork

'An engaging and rigorous book that makes an important contribution to Ted Hughes studies. The Page is Printed will be enjoyed by scholars, students, and poets alike.’
Yvonne Reddick, University of Central Lancashire

Author Information

Carrie Smith is Senior Lecturer in English Literature at Cardiff University.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
List of Figures9
Introduction: ‘transparent exposure of the poetic operations’13
A Note on Transcription of Manuscripts41
1. The Professional Poet: The Transition from the Drafts of The Hawk in the Rain to the Process of Lupercal45
2. The Evolution of ‘Skylarks’: A Case Study77
3. ‘They wrote themselves’: The ‘Shock’ Composition of Ted Hughes’s Crow Poems105
4. Collaborative Composition: Negotiating Word and Image in the Drafts of Cave Birds and Remains of Elmet133
5. Authenticity and Sincerity: The Spontaneous Composition of Moortown Diary171
6. Birthday Letters: An Archive of Writing203