The contested life of one of Britain’s best-loved poets has erupted into controversy once more, as the estate of Ted Hughes has stopped cooperating with his latest biographer.

The Shakespeare scholar Jonathan Bate, who began working on a biography of the former poet laureate in 2010, said he was surprised that the estate has barred him from private archives, asked that he return photocopies of privately held documents, and withdrawn his right to quote extensively from the poet’s work – described by the professor as “an essential aspect of serious scholarship”.

According to Bate, the decision to withdraw support came “completely out of the blue”, though the estate was becoming “impatient” to see more of his work.

Ted Hughes estate withdraws biographer’s access. Valerie Eliot did the same thing to Peter Ackroyd when he was writing his biography of T. S. Eliot; he ended up having to paraphrase dozens of passages from letters and notebooks. I can’t imagine trying to write a biography under such circumstances.