Old DenabyMexborough Grammar Schoolpeered overThunder RockRoche AbbeyCrookhill

Ted Hughes: Dreams as Deep as England

An International Conference at the University of Sheffield,

9-12 September 2015

The University of Sheffield's School of English has been the most productive centre of research on Ted Hughes since the 1970s, led by Neil Roberts, and more recently home to a thriving creative writing programme under the guidance of Simon Armitage. The School is proud to host the seventh International Conference on the former Poet Laureate. Hughes's reputation has fluctuated in that period, but now stands higher than it ever did.

Hughes's family home from the age of eight to twenty-one was the South Yorkshire mining town of Mexborough, fifteen miles from Sheffield. In the surrounding countryside he recreated the natural 'paradise' that he had enjoyed as a small boy on the hills above Mytholmroyd. Here is the pond celebrated in 'Pike', here he encountered the horse that stalks the narrator of 'The Rain Horse', saw his first live wild fox and heard the legend of the knight and wildcat in nearby Barnborough commemorated in 'Esther's Tomcat'. At Mexborough Grammar School he met the inspirational teachers Pauline Mayne and John Fisher, and his first poems were published in the school's magazine, Don and Dearne. South Yorkshire is where Hughes became a poet.

The conference will be based at Halifax Hall, formerly home of the Victorian industrialist, philanthropist and Lord Mayor of Sheffield Sir Joseph Jonas, later a University hall of residence, now a hotel and conference centre close to the city's recently restored Botanical Gardens.

Conference events:

  • Reading by Simon Armitage
  • Keynote lecture by Professor Seamus Perry of Oxford University
  • Conversation with Sir Jonathan Bate about his biography of Hughes, scheduled for September 2015
  • Tour of Hughes's South Yorkshire led by Steve Ely, author of the forthcoming book, Made in Mexborough: Ted Hughes's South Yorkshire
  • Rehearsed reading of Ann Henning-Jocelyn's play Doonreagan, about Hughes and Assia Wevill's time in Ireland
  • Poetry reading by delegates
  • Other contributors include Heather Clark, Terry Gifford, Paul Mills, Joanny Moulin, Neil Roberts, Carl Rollyson, Anthony Rowland, Ann Skea and Mark Wormald.
  • There will be papers on Hughes and aspects of biography, the visual arts, translation, his collaborators, place, ecology, astrology, Native American culture, writing for children, poetics, other contemporaries, war, history and prehistory, psychology, cinema, race, medieval literature, religion, and readings of individual poems.

Accommodation (single-room en-suite) is available in the Endcliffe Student Village, on the same site as Halifax Hall. A small number of double rooms are also available in Halifax Hall itself. If you prefer to stay in a hotel, please follow the link to local hotel accommodation.

If you have any queries please contact Neil Roberts at n.j.roberts@sheffield.ac.uk