Ted Hughes

1 portrait

Ted Hughes

by Sylvia Plath
pen and ink, circa 1957
8 3/8 in. x 5 1/8 in. (213 mm x 130 mm)
Purchased with help from Mrs T.S. Eliot, the Art Fund, and Roy Davids, 2005
Primary Collection
NPG 6739

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  • Sylvia Plath (1932-1963), Poet and writer. Artist of 1 portrait, Sitter in 4 portraits.

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The only known drawing of Ted Hughes by his wife the writer Sylvia Plath, this evocative portrait was executed in pen and ink on a numbered sheet, presumably from one of the books used by Plath for her journal. It was made in about 1957, when Hughes began to gain critical recognition for his first collection of poems, Hawk in the Rain. It therefore depicts him at the moment of his emergence as a poet of the first rank, and in the year after Hughes's marriage to Plath. He preserved this image, having destroyed other personal paper belonging to their turbulent relationship which ended with Plath's suicide in 1963. Hughes later gave the drawing to Roy Davids, as documented by an inscription on the verso. The drawing may also therefore be seen as a vital document of an important and much debated literary relationship.

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Current affairs

Harold Macmillan takes over as Conservative prime minister, manoeuvring Eden out of power after his poor handling of the Suez Crisis the previous year. The Wolfenden Report recommends that homosexuality should no longer be a criminal offence. It still took ten years, however, before any changes were made to the law on homosexuality with the Sexual Offences Act in 1967.

Art and science

The Today Programme is first broadcast on Radio 4. This early morning current affairs programme is known for breaking major stories early, and for its hard-hitting approach and touch interviewing style. Presenters have included: Robert Robinson, Brian Redhead, Libby Purves, Jenni Murray, Sue MacGregor, John Humphrys, Anna Ford and James Naughtie.


The Treaty of Rome leads to the formation of the European Economic Community. Officially beginning on 1st January 1958, the EEC established a European Common Market, where goods, services, labour and capital could move freely within the European member countries, and shared policies were agreed for labour, social welfare, agriculture, transport, and foreign trade. The EEC preceded the European Community, and the European Union.

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