Ted Hughes succeeded John Betjeman as British Poet Laureate and served in that position from 1984 until his death. He is equally well-known for being the husband of American poet Sylvia Plath when she committed suicide in 1963. Born in 1930, he worked as a zoo attendant and gardener as a young man, developing an appreciation for wildlife and animals. Hughes liked to go fishing in British Columbia.

Criminal psychologist and SFU professor Ehor Boyanowsky, as a former president of the Steelhead Society of British Columbia, has written Savage Gods, Silver Ghosts: In the Wild with Ted Hughes (D&M, 2009). This book pertains to Ted Hughes' fishing trips and public readings in B.C. The poet David Day was chiefly responsible for first bringing Hughes to British Columbia, later resulting in a friendship between Boyanowsky and Hughes. Poet Linda Rogers brought Hughes to B.C. to appear at the Spirit Quest Festival in Victoria in 1987 but he called from Vancouver to say he had appendicitis and he couldn't make it to the event--but he cashed her blank cheque for $1,500 nonetheless.

When the former Vancouver Sun journalist Mark Hume received the Roderick Haig-Brown Prize in 1999 for River of the Angry Moon, Seasons of the Bella Coola (Greystone, 1998), co-written with Harvey Thommasen, he said, "I want to thank Harvey Thommasen, who couldn't be here tonight, but who provided the scientific foundation for this book. It took him seven years. If you've read that book, you'll see there's a lot of details in there about biodiversity. None of that information about the Bella Coola was known until Harvey Thommasen did it... I don't really know how to thank someone who's dead, but I do feel I should mention his name tonight: Ted Hughes, a poet-laureate of Great Britain. He used to slip into British Columbia every few years and fish the rivers for steelhead. He gave me a great deal of encouragement for this book. He was inspirational to me shortly before he died. He knew that the rivers of British Columbia are not to be taken lightly."

PHOTO: Ted Hughes on the dock at Nitinat, Vanisle.

[BCBW 2009] "Famous Visitor"