Hughes studied English, anthropology and archaeology at Pembroke College, Cambridge where he met the poet Sylvia Plath. They married in 1956, separating six years later in the autumn of 1962. Plath's suicide in 1963 after their separation has long been a subject of much media speculation. Many feminist critics have commented extensively on this subject.
His first collection of poetry Hawk in the Rain (1957) attracted considerable critical acclaim. His most significant work is perhaps Crow (1970).
Tales from Ovid (1997) contains a selection of free verse translations from Ovid's Metamorphoses. Birthday Letters (1998) consists of 88 poems describing his relationship with Plath.
Hughes's children's book The Iron Man became the basis of Pete Townshend's rock opera of the same name and the animated film The Iron Giant.