Alcestis is the story of a king, Admetus, who is able to escape death because his wife, Alcestis, has volunteered to die in his place. Ted Hughes's version goes beyond translation to an inspired rethinking of the story in terms of his own vision of human suffering.
Although he started working on this piece in 1993, he did not finish until a few months before his death in 1998. It is the culmination of an extraordinarily productive period of work, which saw the publication of Tales from Ovid (1997), Birthday Letters (1998) and The Oresteia (1999).
Ted Hughes (1930-1998) was born in Yorkshire. His first book, The Hawk in the Rain, was published in 1957 by Faber & Faber and was followed by many volumes of poetry and prose for adults and children. He received the Whitbread Book of the Year for two consecutive years for his last published collections of poetry, Tales from Ovid and Birthday Letters. He was Poet Laureate from 1984, and in 1998 he was appointed to the Order of Merit.