British poet. He was appointed poet laureate in 1984 and admitted to the OM in 1998.
Hughes was born in Yorkshire and took his degree at Pembroke College, Cambridge. In 1956 he married the American poet Sylvia Plath. His first volume of poetry, The Hawk in the Rain (1957), made an immense impact and at once Hughes was acclaimed as a major new poetic talent. He won a Guinness Poetry Award (1958), was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship (1959–60), and in 1961 won the Hawthornden Prize. Throughout the 1960s Hughes was a leading poetic influence, publishing Lupercal (1960) and Wodwo (1967), as well as several children's books. Crow (1970) contains perhaps his finest achievement in the creation of the sinister and violent anti-hero of the title.
Hughes's vision of the natural world as terrible and violent continued in such subsequent collections as Gaudete (1977) and Moortown (1979), although later volumes, such as River (1983) and Flowers and Insects (1987), have a more celebratory tone. He has also published a number of stories, including the collection Difficulties of a Bridegroom (1995), written radio plays, and carried out translations for the theatre, notably of Racine's Phèdre (1998). Winter Pollen, a collection of his essays, appeared in 1994, and New Selected Poems 1957–1994 in 1995. In 1997 Hughes published his Tales from Ovid, a series of adaptations from the Roman poet that earned several major literary prizes and became a best-seller in Britain. A year later he startled the literary world by publishing Birthday Letters, a sequence of poems in which he broke his long silence on his marriage to Sylvia Plath and the events leading to her suicide.