George Adamson. The Iron Man. In Ted Hughes. The iron Man. London: Faber and Faber, 1968

George Adamson. The Iron ManI. In Ted Hughes. The iron Man (1968)

It’s an ordinary picnic on a grassy mound. A family spread a cloth and unpacks “a roasted chicken, a bottle of milk, a bowl of tomatoes, a bagful of boil eggs, a dish of butter and a loaf of bread, with cheese and salt and cups.” Then the earth rumbles and quakes, a crack opens, and slowly, the colossal Iron Man digs himself out. The family runs in consternation. The picnic is wrecked.

If you can believe it, Ted Hughes wrote Iron Man (1968) as an entertainment to help his children Frieda and Nicholas deal with the suicide of their mother Sylvia Plath.

I suppose the wrecked picnic and the family’s terror suggests the wreckage of the Hughes/Plath family. But while the story ends upbeat, Iron Man is placated, Hughes and the children never overcame their trauma.   

Featured Image: How to wreck a picnic. Tom Gauld. Iron Man emerges from the Mound. From Ted Hughes. The Iron Man: A Story in Five Nights (London: Faber and Faber, 2005) 

See:  Ted Hughes. The Iron Man: A Story in Five Nights. Illustrated by George Adamson. London: Faber and Faber, 1968; Tom Gauld. Iron Man emerges from the Mound. From Ted Hughes. The Iron Man: A Story in Five Nights (London: Faber and Faber, 2005)

* For the 1968 U.S. publication the title was changed to Iron Giant.