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October 12, 2012 9:03 pm
Ted & I: A Brother’s Memoir, by Gerald Hughes, The Robson Press, RRP£16.99, 228 pages
“Poetry is a way of contacting your family when they are gone,” the late poet laureate Ted Hughes once said. His poems drew deeply on his relationships with his family and the natural world around him, and in this genial and touching memoir Hughes’s older brother Gerald – now 92 – shares his own memories of their childhood in Yorkshire, roaming the woods and fields around their home in Mytholmroyd near Hebden Bridge and later in the larger mining town of Mexborough.
Gerald, 10 years Ted’s senior, took him under his wing early: the pair trooped off together on a camping trip when Ted was just five; Gerald took him hunting for rats and rabbits, fishing the local canal, kite-flying and walking in the Calder Valley. Their life-long closeness was forged here in their shared love of the natural world, as was Hughes’s poet’s eye for the landscape and wildlife – the hawks, pike and foxes – that would populate his great poems.
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