British Library Apology/Friggieri’s Funeral – Poetry News Roundup November 26th

Today our poetry news roundup looks at the apology issued by the British Library to the widow of the late Ted Hughes and the funeral of the Maltese poet Oliver Friggieri.

British Library Issues Apology

Following the story earlier this week, when we reported that the British Library had added the poet Ted Hughes to their list of those with connections to slavery and the profits of colonialism, we can confirm that the British Library has now issued an apology to the poet’s widow.

The list, created by the British Library, contains more than 300 names. Hughes is linked to slavery in a particularly tenuous manner, through a distant relative Nicholas Ferrar. The link is not, however, that of a direct descendent; Ferrar died without having any children.

Hughes’ biographer has hit out against the inclusion of the poet on the list, saying that surely this is taking Black Lives Matter a step too far There is in fact no family tree for Ferrar, so it is not even certain if Hughes was related to him or not.

The library has issued a formal apology stating that the poet should never have been included on the list and the link should not have been made. They have apologised to Carol Hughes, the poet’s widow and ant other family members who might have been affected by the announcement. They confirmed that the documentation that had been involved in the making of the announcement had been removed and was now pending a review.

They went on to explain that their curators had been involved in identifying those collections in their possession which were in some way linked to the wealth that might have been obtained as a result of slavery or some form of colonialism. However, the early presentation of the results of their investigations had been confusing and had raised more questions than answers. They will now be spending some time reviewing how this research might continue.

Mrs Hughes welcomed the apology and the withdrawal of the comments linking her late husband to a man she said had been born in a similar time to Shakespeare. She was grateful for the assurances the library had made that they should not have made the comments and would not make such a mistake in the future.

Ferrar is particularly known for his part in the founding of Little Gidding, a Christian community and also for bringing the poet George Herbert’s poetry to the attention of the public.

Farewell to Oliver Friggieri

Yesterday, the writer and poet Oliver Friggieri was laid to rest in a funeral organised by the state.

Friggieri died on Saturday and his funeral was arranged by the state as a recognition of the contributions he had made t both literature and Maltese society.

The poet’s funeral cortege began its journey from the Mater Dei Hospital before stopping at the University where a short remembrance ceremony took place. During the ceremony, some of his poetry was read out to the assembled crowd. They then proceeded past Friggieri’s home before stopping in their final destination, Floriana his birthplace.

The funeral was attended by 130 people. The number was restricted due to the measures currently in place as a result of the pandemic.



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