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Abbey to Honour Ted Hughes

Friday, 19th March 2010

Abbey to Honour Ted Hughes

Westminster Abbey will honour Ted Hughes, one of the most significant poets of the 20th century, with a memorial in Poets’ Corner.

Hughes was Poet Laureate from 1984 until his death in 1998. At Westminster Abbey his memorial in the South Transept will be placed in the company of the graves and memorials of other poets and great writers.

Hughes’ first book of poems, Hawk in the Rain, was published in 1957 to immediate acclaim, winning the Harper publication contest. Over the next 41 years, he wrote nearly 90 books, and won many prizes and fellowships.

The decision to place memorials in the Abbey rests entirely with the Dean of Westminster. Before making the decision to honour Ted Hughes with a place in Poets’ Corner the Very Reverend Dr John Hall carefully considered the views of academics, critics and the poet’s peers.

Dr Hall said:

The Dean of Westminster does not generally take the initiative over memorials and has to think very hard about how to respond to approaches. The Abbey’s present building, little over 700 years old, already holds the graves or memorials of 3,300 people, about many of whom little or nothing is known in our day. Deciding within a few years of people’s death that they will be remembered in hundreds of years’ time is of course impossible. And yet, it is sometimes right to make such a decision, as Deans have done over the centuries.
By no means every Poet Laureate has been commemorated in Poets’ Corner. But the overwhelming weight of advice I have received suggests that this is the right decision. Ted Hughes’ name will be honoured amongst the greatest poets of the 20th century in Poets’ Corner,
The next interesting stage will be to find the right wording and design to honour Ted Hughes’ remarkable achievement. I hope that his memorial will continue to remind people of his major poetic contribution to our country’s and the world’s literature.

The dedication of the memorial to Ted Hughes, which has not yet been designed, is likely to take place some time early in 2011.

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