Ted Hughes included in slavery dossier – 300 years after death of ancestor | UK | News


But some social media users have suggested the move could backfire – because it will simply encourage more people to investigate his work. The British Library has added Hughes to a dossier it is compiling as a part of an ongoing research project aimed at finding evidence of “connections to slavery, profits from slavery or from colonialism”.

In the case of Yorkshireman Hughes, who died in 1998 aged 68, the relative in question was Nicholas Ferrar, who was born in 1592.

Mr Ferrar’s family was “deeply involved” with the London Virginia Company which established colonies in North America, according to the research says.

Other famous figures selected include Lord Byron, Oscar Wilde and George Orwell, all via relatives born many years earlier, as part of the British Library’s attempt to become an “actively anti-racist organisation”, The Sunday Telegraph revealed.

One Twitter user commented: “Sounds like Stalinism: family members getting killed off just because they happened to be related to a political opponent.”

Tom Fenn added: “Echoes of North Korea.”

Former teacher Ruth Smith posted: “This is outrageous – beyond a joke and distressing for the one child of Ted Hughes.

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Barry Byrne asked: “Utterly ridiculous. Is there no end to this madness?”

Another Twitter user added: “The logic of this is that Ted Hughes’ talent was due to the advantages conferred by economic and social effects of tenuous connections to slavery centuries before?

“Prepare to annul every achievement in human history…”

Conservative councillor Alexander Curtis added: “My ancestor, Captain John Jordan was one of the merchants who founded the East India Company.

“He was killed in a sea battle off the Dutch East Indies around 1605.

“Presumably I cannot publish anything as a consequence…”

However, others suggested the British Library’s decision might prompt actually more people to take an interest in Hughes, whose estranged wife Sylvia Plath, also a poet, famously committed suicide in 1963.

Alaa al-Ameri tweeted: “With any luck, it’ll just mean a few more people hear about him and are curious enough to read The Iron Man to their kids. No amount of wokery can undo what that does.”

Another added: “Sigh. Time to buy all his books I don’t own before they are no longer stocked.”

Express.co.uk has contacted the British Library to offer them a chance to comment.

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