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Ted Hughes, Earth-moon, signed & limited


No. 77 of 226 copies.

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Published by the Rainbow Press, London, May 1976. Edition limited to 226 copies, 67 pages including colophon, free endpapers, illustrated numbered and signed by the author, designed and printed by Sebastian Carter at the Rampant Lions Press Cambridge, on paper hand-made by J. Barcham Green, and bound by Davis and Hodges. This is copy No. 77. First edition of these 31 poems and 10 drawings in text, bottom page edges deckled, with a moon motif cover illustration blocked in palladium, full blue calf, housed in a Japanese paper-covered slipcase. Condition: Fine.

Ted Hughes (1930-1998) has been described by the Poetry Foundation as one of the giants of 20th century British poetry. Born in Yorkshire, he married in 1956 the American poet Sylvia Plath who persuaded him to enter a contest for a first book. The judges, Marianne Moore, WH Auden and Stephen Spender, awarded Hughes first prize and The Hawk in the Rain appeared in 1957. Rural Yorkshire inspired deep connections with nature and animals in Hughes’s poems, which quickly became known internationally for their mythic and elemental themes. His adolescent interest in hunting was transformed into poetic explorations of the natural wildness of animals investing them with symbolic significance. A prolific poet, editor, translator of classics and author of books for children, Ted Hughes was appointed Poet Laureate in 1984.

As well as his single volumes of poems published by Faber, Ted Hughes produced many small press and limited editions, of which Earth-moon is a good example from an especially productive decade. For Hughes, this type of poetic production was an experimental process. Although now widely accepted as one of the century’s greatest poets, Hughes’s professional writing life was compromised for a considerable time by Sylvia Plath’s suicide in 1963 and by the 1969 suicide of Assia Wevill, for whom he had left Plath. Earth-moon has its own darker elements, and Hughes’s unexpected portrait of Plath in Birthday Letters appeared in 1998. Hughes continued writing and publishing poems until his death in 1998. A memorial to the poet in Westminster Abbey’s Poets’ Corner was unveiled in 2011.