Portrait of Dr Steve Ely Dr Steve Ely

s.ely@hud.ac.uk | 01484 472783


Dr Steve Ely is Lecturer in Creative Writing and Director of the Ted Hughes Network.  He is a poet, novelist, and biographer.  He joined the University in September 2015 after a twenty-year career in secondary education as a teacher, senior leader and Headteacher.  He has also worked as a freelance writer and educational consultant.  Steve is the chair of the Ted Hughes Project (South Yorkshire) a community-based organisation which seeks to develop the legacy of Ted Hughes in and around Hughes’s childhood home of Mexborough and which runs the annual Ted Hughes Poetry Festival.

Research and Scholarship

Steve is currently working on a number of projects:

  • ‘Hughes’s Yorkshire’, a chapter for the forthcoming book, Ted Hughes in Context, edited by Terry Gifford.
  • ‘Ted Hughes unrolls his mat’.  An application of Patrick Kavanagh’s categories of metropolitan, provincial and parochial (as expounded in his article ‘Mao-Tse Tung unrolls his mat’) to Hughes’s oeuvre.
  • Incendium Amoris, a book of poems arising from the writings, life and landscape of the 14th century mystic Richard Rolle.  Incendium Amoris will be published by Smokestack Books in 2017.
  • Bloody, proud and murderous men, adulterers and enemies of God — a book of poems exploring the human propensity for violence and extremism.

      Various extended poetic sequences or long poems:

  • ‘Beast without Pity’ a poetic sequence about the history, development, social and political significance of York Castle (a collaboration with artist James Norton as a commission for English Heritage);
  • ‘Little Saint Hugh’: an experimental poem cutting trajectories into anti-Semitism, the Monarchy and ‘the Mob’ (a commission for Radio Three’s The Verb); 
  • ‘Sufficient vnto the Day’: a series of improvisations on chapter six of the Gospel of Matthew (King James 1611 version).

In his role as Director of the Ted Hughes Network, Steve (with Dr James Underwood) is organising a two day symposium — ‘Ted Hughes & Place’ — at the University in June 2017, with keynote speakers Professor Neil Roberts, Professor Terry Gifford and Dr Mark Wormald.  The THN has secured eminent Hughes/Plath scholar Dr Heather Clark as visiting Professor in the Network in the summer of 2017.  Dr Clark is in the process of completing what will be the definitive biography of Sylvia Plath, to be published by Knopf in late 2017. The Ted Hughes Network is also working closely with the Ted Hughes Society, The Elmet Trust and the Ted Hughes Project (South Yorkshire) to make academic work on Ted Hughes more accessible to lay audiences, support community organisations and to develop a Yorkshire-wide Ted Hughes Literary and Heritage Trail by means of a major Heritage Lottery Fund Grant.

Publications and Other Research Outputs


Ely, S (2017) ‘Bloody, proud and murderous men, adulterers and enemies of GodThe High Window .

Ely, S (2017) Incendium amoris . : Smokestack Books. ISBN 978-0995563551


Ely, S (2016) Tales of the Tribe: Modern epic, guerrilla-pastoral and utopian yeoman-anarchism in Oswald’s Book of Hours and Englaland Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

Ely, S (2016) ‘The importance of Edna Wholey to the poetic development of Ted HughesThe Ted Hughes Society Journal , 5 (1), pp. 25-33. ISSN 2051-7270

Ely, S (2016) Werewolf . : Calder Valley Poetry.

Ely, S (2016) ‘Six poems from sufficient unto the dayPoetry Review , 106 (3). ISSN 0032-2156


Ely, S (2015) Ted Hughes's South Yorkshire: Made in Mexborough . : AIAA. ISBN 978-1137499349

Ely, S (2015) ‘Beasts of Eden : Ted Hughes and influenceThe Dark Horse , 35, pp. 50-58.

Ely, S (2015) Englaland . : Smokestack Books. ISBN 978-0992958145

Ely, S (2015) ‘WerewolfLondon Review of Books , 35 (5). ISSN 0260-9592

Ely, S (2015) ‘'The white hart', 'Hugo of Fyslake' and 'Eofor'Poetry Review . ISSN 0032-2156


Ely, S (2014) ‘Prayers in time of great hungerLondon Review of Books , 36 (8). ISSN 0260-9592

Ely, S (2014) ‘How dear is life’. In: The Pity. : The Poetry Society. pp. 10-27.

Ely, S (2014) ‘'Deir ez-Zor', 'Work', 'Interhamwe' and 'Fasayil'Poetry Review , 104 (1). ISSN 0032-2156


Ely, S (2013) Oswald's book of hours . : Smokestack Books. ISBN 978-0957172234

Ely, S (2013) ‘Ted Hughes's South YorkshireThe Ted Hughes Society Journal , 3 (1), pp. 30-39. ISSN 2051-7270


Ely, S (2012) Ratmen . : Blackheath Books. ISBN 9781906099206


Steve’s book Oswald’s Book of Hours was nominated for the Forward Prize for Best First collection and the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry in 2013.  He was awarded a major Northern Writer’s Award for Poetry in 2015.  He has appeared on Radio 4’s The Echo Chamber, Radio Three’s The Verb and his work has been featured in the Yorkshire Post.  He has been commissioned to write poems for the Poetry Society, English Heritage and The Verb.  He has given readings, talks and participated in discussions at prestigious literary festivals and similar events, including the Blenheim Palace Literary Festival, The Cornwall Contemporary Poetry Festival (2016) and The Tablet Festival of the Catholic Imagination (2015) The Poetry International website describes him as ‘one of the most exhilarating poets currently working in the UK’. He has been invited to run residentials, workshops and online courses by The Arvon Foundation and The Poetry School.   As chair of the Ted Hughes Project (South Yorkshire) he runs the annual Ted Hughes Poetry Festival in Mexborough South Yorkshire which has programmed performers such as Ian McMillan, Frieda Hughes, David Morley, Simon Armitage and Linton Kwesi Johnson.  Arts Council England cited the Ted Hughes Poetry Festival as an example of ‘excellence’ in terms of ‘quality of art and engagement’ in its Creative People and Places Report (2016).

Research Degree Supervision

Steve is interested in supervising Creative Writing projects (poetry) and research relating to the work of Ted Hughes.  He is currently supervising:

  • Sophie Johnson: Creative Writing (Fantasy Novel) — M. Res).
  • Alison Lock: Creative Writing (Poetry/Short Stories) — Ph.D by publication.
  • Melissa Lee-Houghton: Creative Writing (Poetry) — Ph.D by publication.
  • Ruth Crossley: English Literature — ‘Mapping Elmet — Ph.D.

Teaching and Professional Activities

In 2016-2017 Steve will be teaching the first year ‘Writing & Thinking Creatively’ and ‘ABC of Writing’ modules, the second year module, ‘The Art of Poetry’ and the third year module, ‘Liberating Poetic Chaos’.  He also teaches two community creative writing groups — Write on Mexborough — in Mexborough (28 members in all) and regularly teaches online modules for the Poetry School.