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Saturday, January 17, 1998 Published at 10:36 GMT


Hughes breaks silence over Plath
image: [ A marriage of two leading poets of the 20th century ]
A marriage of two leading poets of the 20th century

One of Britain's best known poets, Ted Hughes, has broken his 35-year silence about the suicide of his first wife, the distinguished American poet, Sylvia Plath.

An excerpt from Hughes's poem describing his first sight of Plath (Dur 34")
He has published a collection of poems, called the Birthday Letters, which give his version of what has come to be regarded as one of the most tragic literary love stories of the century.

Critics have said the work shows Hughes as a man deeply in love and tortured by his wife's unstable nature and not as an indifferent betrayer as he has often been depicted.

The poet Andrew Motion enthuses about the most significant poems published for "many, many years" (Dur 2' 34")
Many feminists and admirers of Plath hold Hughes responsible for his wife's suicide in 1963, accusing him of abandoning her for another woman at a time when she was emotionally unstable.

Plath gassed herself while living in a small London flat at the age of 30. She left behind two children.

Hughes, the British poet laureate, and Plath are two of the most read and studied post-war poets.

As well as poems, Sylvia Plath also wrote an autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar, in which she described an earlier suicide attempt.

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Internet Links

Sylvia Plath - Poems and biography

The Ted Hughes pages: unofficial site

Faber and Faber: Ted Hughes page

Faber and Faber: Sylvia Plath Page

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.
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