Claas Kazzer visits Mytholmroyd

On Wednesday, April 3rd and Thursday April 4th. Claas Kazzer, the co-ordinator of the Ted Hughes website based at the University of Leipzig, visited Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd. Arriving late on Wednesday night Frances and Geoff Robinson collected him from Mytholmroyd Station and took him to a Bed and Breakfast Inn in Mytholmroyd. After chatting with him briefly about his plans for the next day arrangements were hurriedly put in place for him to meet a variety of people with interests in the poet and the Calder Valley. Claas also talked with Frances about the Mytholmroyd website which she co-ordinates and about the developments on the proposed Ted Hughes' Centre and the many exciting plans for the village generally.

On Thursday, Donald Crossley, Ted Hughes' childhood friend, took him on a tour of the places where he and Ted had played as children. Donald's wife Hilary became their chauffeur for the morning, so that they could take in as much as possible. At Hughes's former home in Aspinall Street, Mr. Crossley was able to point out the traces which remain of the skull and crossbones which Ted painted on the side of the house using yellow paint when both of the boys were seven. He also took him to several of the sites mentioned in the 1979 collection Remains of Elmet including the spot where the former Mount Zion Chapel used to stand.

Later in the day he met with Elaine Connell and Chris Ratcliffe of Pennine Pens who also run the Hebden Bridge website. Elaine, who is the moderator of the Sylvia Plath Forum, discussed Hughes' poetry, Plath and Hughes' poetic influence upon each other and the relationship between the couple.

Claas had recently met with Olwyn, the poet's sister who had told him about the places where she, Ted and Gerald Hughes had played as children. Elaine took him to Hardcastle Crags and on a drive over Heights Road which had featured prominently in Miss Hughes' conversation with him.

He also visited the Book Case where he spoke with the owner Peter Tillotson and Felicity Potter.

He ended the evening with Frances and Geoff Robinson and expressed his thanks to all concerned for a very busy and enlightening day. He was surprised and happy that he had managed to fit so much into the day and meet so many people with a direct interest/involvment in the poet and the place where he was born. He thanked everyone very much for their kindness.

Although Claas had visited the Calder Valley on previous occasions this was the first time he had had personal contact with local Hughes' and Plath enthusiasts and experts. "I love this area of Britain," he stated, " although Hughes only actually lived in the Calder Valley for a short time it represented a most important influence on his work for the rest of his life. Landscape of the region provided him with an imaginative source which he thinks he will return to for the rest of his poetic career