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Hughes' position as Poet Laureate of England for the last 14 years of his life is frequently overshadowed by his tempestuous relationship with the iconic American poet Sylvia Plath, whose dramatic suicide was notably blamed on Hughes' infidelity and coldness. Following her death, Hughes took control of much of her body of work, editing the book of poems that would eventually become her most important work: Ariel. The liberties taken with rearrangements, additions and subtractions flung Hughes into a cyclone of feminist derision from which he would never recover.
Australian feminist Germaine Greer admitted that "Ted Hughes existed to be punished..."
His final collection of poetry, Birthday Letters, consisting almost entirely of poems written to Plath following her suicide, was published posthumously. A complete book of his works became available in 2003.
Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf is dedicated to Hughes.