The Mark Hinchliffe Ted Hughes Collection

Grant Value: £20,000 [£10,000 of which came from the Larkin Fund]
Item cost: £103,245
Item date acquired: 2021
Item institution: Huddersfield University
Town/City: Huddersfield
County: West Yorkshire

Dr. Steve Ely, Director of the Ted Hughes Network, writes: The Mark Hinchliffe Ted Hughes Collection, “one of the finest [Hughes collections] in private hands, and a rival to those deposited in a number of University libraries on both sides of the Atlantic”, (Simon Cooke, The Private Library, 5:4, Winter 2012), has been acquired by the University of Huddersfield, with the help of a generous grant from the Friends of the National Libraries.  The collection was assembled by the late Mark Hinchliffe (1960-2019) between the mid-1970s and 2019, and was offered for sale to the University of Huddersfield by his widow, Julie. 

The Ted Hughes Network was founded by the University in 2016, and has quickly established itself as a centre of excellence for Hughes-related research, teaching, public engagement, and creativity.

Mark, a lifelong resident of Huddersfield, was a significant figure in the international Ted Hughes scholarly and collecting communities, a member of the Ted Hughes Society, a founding member and chair of the Elmet Trust (the charitable body that administers the ‘Hughes’s Birthplace’ in Mytholmroyd), a key figure in the development of the Ted Hughes Poetry Festival in the Upper Calder Valley, a scholar and a published poet.  The archive will be deposited at Heritage Quay, the University’s archive, where it will be made available to researchers and members of the public.

The collection comprises 172 items, including: signed first editions of dozens of Hughes’s trade, limited-edition and fine-press publications; original letters written by Hughes and his first wife, the poet Sylvia Plath; signed and annotated books from Hughes’s personal collection, and some absolutely unique items: a very fine ceramic jaguar sculpted by Hughes in 1967, the only intact example anywhere in the world of Hughes’s work in the plastic arts; a copy of the Cambridge literary magazine St. Botolph’s Review (1956) containing four poems by Hughes and signed by contributor and Hughes’s long-time friend Daniel Huws (the launch party of the magazine was famously the occasion when Hughes met Plath); an album containing hundreds of photographs, including some previously unknown photographs of both Hughes and Plath; a holograph manuscript of ‘Orpheus & Eurydice’ (broadcast as Orpheus by the BBC in 1971 and in 1973) with some significant differences to the broadcast and published versions, and, a bespoke edition of the Gehenna Press’s limited edition Howls & Whispers, comprising the original fine-book plus a ‘making copy’, eight original watercolours by Leonard Baskin and a unique copper-plate, engraved portrait of Sylvia Plath by Baskin, 

The University of Huddersfield already holds three other Ted Hughes-related deposits: the Donald Crossley Papers, the Christopher Reid Papers and a comprehensive collection of Hughes’s fine and small press work. The addition of the Mark Hinchliffe Ted Hughes Collection to these existing deposits establishes the University’s collection at Heritage Quay as internationally significant and an essential resource for Ted Hughes scholars. The University plans to engage non-academic users with the collection by arranging public-facing events—a symposium, talks, poetry readings, exhibitions, creative writing workshops and events for young people are planned. 

The University would like to thank the FNL, not only for its generous donation, but for the help, support and advice provided by Nell Hoare which alerted us to additional funding streams that we were able access to secure the collection.

Item Provenance
Bought from the family of Mark Hinchliffe