Self-Revelation, Self-Concealment & the Making of the Ted Hughes Archive
When Emory University acquired the Ted Hughes archive in February 1997, journalists around the U.S. and abroad were quick to proclaim Ted Hughes’s secrets revealed. “Hughes papers reveal agony and ecstasy of his love life” (Harlow) was one of the more sensational and, I would add, one of the more misleading. The truth is few journalists actually visited the archive itself, and those who did were ill-equipped for the time-consuming spade work necessary even to begin to grasp the extent or the nature of the archive’s revelations. Nevertheless the presence of the archive evoked for them, as it often does for us, intimations of the deeply personal. Its very existence gave the newspaper stories that followed a new degree of credibility, simply through their invocation of the archive’s authority.