Friday 08. January 2016
Stone Wall in Mytholmroyd, Olwyn's, Ted's and Gerald's childhood home

Stone Wall in Mytholmroyd, Olwyn's, Ted's and Gerald's childhood home

Broad Bottom Farm at the end of Redacre Wood, Mytholmroyd

Broad Bottom Farm at the end of Redacre Wood, near their home in Mytholmroyd.

The path up the "Co-op field", on top of Banksfields, close to their childhood home

The path up the "Co-op field", on top of Banksfields, close to their childhood home

Olwyn Hughes

Ted Hughes's sister Olwyn has died on January 3, 2016 as the Opens external link in new windowIndependent, the Opens external link in new windowGuardian and other newspapers report. (Thank you Ann, for alerting me to it.)

I remember Olwyn as a resolute but lovely person who always had a mind of her own and was never afraid to say so. Because of the many occassions when she had been misquoted or misrepresented, she was suspicious of "Hughes scholars" and of being interviewed. From my experience, however, she was easy to get on and fun to be with.

We met a few times since the late 1990s or early 2000s, and she was always generous with her support, answering questions, searching her files for material and soon offering me to stay upstairs in a spare room with huge sawfish saws by the wall and a huge stuffed pike next to the bed – catches of Nicholas's.

Even during our first meeting, our conversation quickly diverged from my research to a wide range of topics such as politics, art, psychology or literature but always came back to Ted. She drew my horoscope there and then when we talked about relationships.

Olwyn was always her own person, but casual and entertaining, her conversation strewn with lovely and funny annecdotes. Her criticism could be scathing but taken with a pinch of salt always contained some truth. What she couldn't stand was people trying to deceive her (or others) and people without an opinion or with a turncoat mentality. And she strongly disliked people who appropriated her brother's life and/or work for their own ends or for boosting their self-importance.

We always had a lovely time – even though I was back to smoking twice after visiting her (once after having quit for nearly three years!). But that seemed part and parcel to sitting in her living room and having a vibrant conversation going with a cup of tea or a glass of wine.

Here's to a great and wonderful person whom I'll always remember fondly.