Timmy the Tug

Jim Downer, Ted Hughes

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An exact facsimile of a recently discovered Ted Hughes poem for children, lost for over 50 years, with Hughes’s typewritten manuscript and his friend Jim Downer’s enchanting watercolour illustrations

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Timmy was a paddle-boat, sound as a gong,
Not a worm in his timbers, fresh paint all over.
He was hale as a whale and twice as strong,
And he sailed on the peaceful river.

So begins the enchanting tale of Timmy the Tug and his subsequent adventures as he escapes his moorings and explores the high seas. With his heart in the right place, Timmy struggles at first to be as helpful as he would like to be, despite all his efforts, but by trying and trying and trying again he at last saves a beautiful ship in distress and so recovers his sense of pride.

Originally written in the mid-1950s and only recently rediscovered, the lyrical poem by Ted Hughes, written to accompany a story that was conceived and delightfully illustrated in watercolour by his friend Jim Downer, is presented here as a facsimile of the original manuscript.

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'Vigorous, witty and […] free from the temptation of talking down to his readers … there is something too poignant for words about Downer’s childlike delight in these lines and drawings of 1950-something '
The Times

'T & H have done it beautifully, of course, and the poem is very fresh, as well as fascinating. The illustrations are really sensationally good I think - not just because they’re so evocative of their time'
Andrew Motion

'Hughes has a wonderful flair for witty, child-friendly doggerel and demands to be read aloud again and again'
Saga Magazine

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Further Details


Format: Hardback with tipped on colour plate to front board (without jacket)

Size: 19.5 x 25.8 cm

Extent: 40 pp

Publication date: 21 September 2009

ISBN: 9780500514962

About the Author

Jim Downer is a retired exhibition designer, who conceived and illustrated Timmy the Tug as a young man fresh from art college in Leeds. He has always had a great love of the sea and now lives on the Isle of Wight, England.

Ted Hughes (1930–1998) was an English poet and children’s writer. He was the Poet Laureate from 1984 until his death in 1998, and is routinely ranked as one of the best poets of his generation. Hughes published many books and poems for children, including The Iron Man, The Iron Woman and How the Whale Became.