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Could this have been an act of sabotage by the outraged burghers of bucolic Stedham, deep in the Sussex countryside?

Letters of Ted Hughes, Ed. Christopher Reid

In dreams, as another poet wrote, begin responsibilities. Whatever else happens in the lurching trajectory as poet, critic and national icon that these addictive letters record, Ted Hughes stays a serious dreamer.

Shani Rhys James, Connaught Brown, London

Mad dashes and flying colours

Phedre, National Theatre, London

Since she last appeared at the National six years ago, Helen Mirren has become a dame and played the Queen. So she's no stranger to the purple in Jean Racine's great classical 17th-century tragedy about a dysfunctional royal expiring with incestuous love for her stepson.

First Night: Phedre, National Theatre, London

Mirren's purple patch comes to an end

The people's poet

The <i>IoS's</i> literary editor, Katy Guest, considers how Carol Ann Duffy will handle the 'poisoned chalice' of being the new Poet Laureate

Lonely life and premature death of Nicholas Hughes

The son of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath moved to Alaska to pursue his passion for the oceans. But he could not escape the depression that made him take his life at the age of 47

Sylvia Plath's son commits suicide in Alaska

Nicholas Hughes, the son of poets Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, has killed himself. His death was 46 years after his mother committed suicide and almost 40 years to the day after his stepmother, Assia Wevill, did the same. He was 47.

Audiobook of the week: The Spoken Word: Poems and Short Stories by Ted Hughes

Towards the end of this collection, Ted Hughes reads passages from an occasional diary which he kept while farming in Devon. He'd intended to mould his experiences into poems, but saw that their raw immediacy had its own value. So there he is, out on a winter's night with an overgrown, asphyxiated lamb resolutely refusing to be born. No detail is spared: you listen with breathless, fascinated revulsion, and with a new respect for the exhausting travails of the shepherd – and indeed of the sheep.

Poetry: Seamus and the shaman

Which poet was partial to blackened baked potatoes? Who has an uncanny ability to remember old grocery packaging? And which one strangely resembles Clint Eastwood? Stephen Knight has all the answers

Nigh-No-Place, By Jen Hadfield

The work of Ted Hughes has only recently begun to influence poets in significant numbers, most notably Alice Oswald and now Jen Hadfield, whose Nigh-No-Place is in the running for this year's Forward Prize. Not that Hadfield's restless eco-poetics sound especially like Hughes. There is a backpacker feel to the volume's twin locations of Canada and Shetland, yet the writing is rooted in both places because, for all the comically unflattering self-portraits, the poet usually faces outwards, on to landscapes dazzling after rain or blurred by mist.

A poet's Yorkshire retreat

Adrian Mourby lets himself into the house where Yorkshire's most celebrated poet was born, now a holiday cottage-cum-writer's retreat &ndash; and hopes for inspiration.

Lover of Unreason: The Life and Tragic Death of Assia Wevill, By Yehuda Koren and Eilat Negev

The excruciatingly painful end of this fascinating biography – Assia Wevill would gas herself and Shura, her daughter by Ted Hughes, to death – overshadows everything we can learn about this unfortunate woman, even as we fantasize, as with all suicides, that we can still save her somehow before the last page and rewrite her story.

Female contenders rule out 'archaic' post of Poet Laureate

Three of the leading contenders to be Britain's first female Poet Laureate have ruled themselves out of contention for the post.

The Secret Life of Poems, By Tom Paulin

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First trophy in four years sets Hingis up for Paris

Martina Hingis won her first title since coming out of retirement and said her three years away from the game helped propel her to victory.

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