Birthday Letters

Cover of the book, Birthday Letters.

Written by:

Published by: Farrar Straus Giroux

★★★★★
★★★★★

3.92, based on 8,197 reviews.

Goodreads says:

Formerly Poet Laureate to Queen Elizabeth II, the late Ted Hughes (1930-98) is recognized as one of the few contemporary poets whose work has mythic scope and power. And few episodes in postwar literature have the legendary stature of Hughes's romance with, and marriage to, the great American poet Sylvia Plath.The poems in Birthday Letters are addressed (with just two exceptions) to Plath, and were written over a period of more than twenty-five years, the first a few years after her suicide in 1963. Some are love letters, others haunted recollections and ruminations. In them, Hughes recalls his and Plath's time together, drawing on the powerful imagery of his work--animal, vegetable, mythological--as well as on Plath's famous verse.Countless books have discussed the subject of this intense relationship from a necessary distance, but this volume--at last--offers us Hughes's own account. Moreover, it's a truly remarkable collection of poems in its own right.

Waterstones says:

Ted Hughes's Birthday Letters are addressed, with just two exceptions, to Sylvia Plath, the American poet to whom he was married. They were written over a period of more than twenty-five years, the first a few years after her suicide in 1963, and represent Ted Hughes's only account of his relationship with Plath and of the psychological drama that led both to the writing of her greatest poems and to her death. The book became an instant bestseller on its publication in 1998 and won the Forward Prize for Poetry in the same year. 'To read [Birthday Letters] is to experience the psychic equivalent of "the bends". It takes you down to levels of pressure where the undertruths of sadness and endurance leave you gasping.' Seamus Heaney 'Even if it were possible to set aside its biographical value . . . its linguistic, technical and imaginative feats would guarantee its future. Hughes is one of the most important poets of the century and this is his greatest book.' Andrew Motion


Rating breakdown

★★★★★
★★★★★
3.92 out of 5 stars (8,197 ratings)
5 34% (2,790 ratings)
4 35% (2,888 ratings)
3 22% (1,802 ratings)
2 6% (514 ratings)
1 2% (203 ratings)

About Ted Hughes

Edward James Hughes was an English poet and children's writer, known as Ted Hughes. His most characteristic verse is without sentimentality, emphasizing the cunning and savagery of animal life in harsh, sometimes disjunctive lines.

The dialect of Hughes's native West Riding area of Yorkshire set the tone of his verse. At Pembroke College, Cambridge, he found folklore and anthropology of particular interest, a concern that was reflected in a number of his poems. In 1956 he married the ...
[Read more about Ted Hughes]


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