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EDITIONS
Sunday, 27 October, 2002, 21:33 GMT
Family feud over Hughes estate
Ted and Carol Hughes pictured in 1984
Ted and Carol Hughes pictured in 1984
The daughter of poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath is accusing her stepmother of withholding money the former poet laureate wanted her to have.

Hughes, who died of cancer in 1998, left all of his 1.4m estate to his widow, Carol.

His daughter Frieda Hughes, 42, maintains her father left a letter instructing Carol Hughes to share proceeds from his books with his two children and his sister Olwyn.

But Carol Hughes's solicitor Damon Parker rejected the allegations, telling BBC News Online Frieda Hughes's comments were "tendentious and misleading".

"Ted Hughes's two children by his first marriage and his sister have all benefited very considerably from the earnings from his poetry," he added.

Frieda Hughes wrote in the Sunday Telegraph that the dispute had left her "not only without my father, whose loss devastated me, but also without the stepmother whom I had loved, and trusted, as my father did".

'Disconnected'

She said: "I walk into bookshops and see my father's astonishing works on the shelves and have to acknowledge that I now feel they have been disconnected from me."

Frieda Hughes
Frieda Hughes says there is "no prospect" of a resolution
The money earned from the copyright to Hughes's poems could total up to 200,000 a year, the paper claims, before being divided between his relatives.

Six months after he died, Frieda Hughes says she received a cheque based on the calculations of his copyright earnings, but she was later told by Carol Hughes she was not legally bound by her husband's letter.

There had been some negotiations between the two sides, but the situation had reached an "impasse", Ms Hughes said.

"There seems no prospect of any resolution without court proceedings which I, for one, have no wish for," she added, although some "some income" was now being provided for Hughes's sister Olywn.

Frieda Hughes was nearly three when Sylvia Plath committed suicide, and 10 when her father married Carol Hughes in 1970.

She chose the fourth anniversary of her father's death to go public on the dispute.

'Impasse'

Mr Parker told BBC News Online that Ted Hughes's two children from his first marriage and his sister had "each received substantial six-figure sums from the estate since he died four years ago".

"Olwyn Hughes continues to receive 25% of all net royalty payments and another 25% is being informally set aside with the intention of it being shared by his two children in the future. They are all aware of these arrangements."

Mr Parker said Frieda Hughes and her brother Nicholas had been offered consultation in matters regarding their father's copyright, but had chosen "to play no part in the running of the literary estate".

He denied claims had reached an "impasse", claiming Frieda and her brother had pulled out of negotiations to settle the dispute themselves.

Carol Hughes had suffered "totally unacceptable pressure and private vilification by some of those involved in the dispute," he added.

See also:

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