Sylvia Plath

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Posted by bender 04/12/2009 @ 16:14

Tags : sylvia plath, authors, books, fine arts

News headlines
Faber and Faber, home of Larkin, Plath, Hughes and Stoppard, turns 80 - Times Online
At the book committee meetings, once the drinks tray had been round (Eliot liked a dry Martini) lunch was served and then conversation would turn to the dog-eared manuscripts of the likes of Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath, Philip Larkin, Samuel Beckett,...
Manics pay tribute to lyricist who got lost in the fog - Irish Independent
Journal For Plague Lovers celebrates the twisted Sylvia Plath-like poetry he left behind, the beautifully ugly words of sadness and crucifying despair. With song titles like She Bathed Herself In A Bath Of Bleach, Virginia State Epileptic Colony,...
Patronize me - please - Boston Globe
I have other, equally promising ideas "in development": the comic rock opera based on the life of Sylvia Plath, for instance. Not to mention my series of instructional squash videos narrated by Wall Street felons, or "Ship of Fools," my 40000-word edda...
Touched by Evil - Atlantic Online
and it was during half hours spent at that wall, wearing a figurative mackintosh, that I was blown away by Ariel without knowing that Sylvia Plath had killed herself, and fell under the spell of North clueless as to who Seamus Heaney might be. by Brad...
Historic commission not ready to demolish Wellesley High - Boston Globe
By Erica Noonan, Globe Staff The Massachusetts Historical Commission is withholding -- at least temporarily -- its stamp of approval on a plan to demolish the building where poet Sylvia Plath studied literature as a young woman. At a meeting last week,...
Pick of the day -
As the Murderer of Sylvia Plath? Not today. Today we celebrate Ted Hughes the environmentalist. A keen fisherman, Hughes was heavily involved in campaigns to clean up Britain's rivers. He lobbied Michael Heseltine and Margaret Thatcher, and learned so...
Gallery Talk Spotlights UNC Exhibit of James Joyce -
In addition to the essential publications of James Joyce, the exhibition includes the works of Ted Hughes, Seamus Heaney, Sylvia Plath, and James Dickey. The free, public tour will be repeated at 3:30 pm on Tuesday, June 16 (known as Bloomsday,...
Sports and the "Unimportant": The Tennis Net - Bleacher Report
Maybe it's like the mirror in Sylvia Plath (a very old English poetess) described in one of her poems. A being that has got no preconceived notions and prejudices. Something that shows us the truth. The only difference being that it shows us our own...
Currituck native Pickell named Fulbright scholar - The Daily Advance
Past recipients include the late John Hope Franklin, James B. Duke professor emeritus of history at Duke University and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom; poet-laureate Sylvia Plath; and two-time Oscar-nominated and Emmy award-winning...

Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath.jpg

Sylvia Plath (October 27, 1932–February 11, 1963) was an American poet, novelist, children's author, and short story author.

Known primarily for her poetry, Plath also wrote a semi-autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar, under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. The book's protagonist, Esther Greenwood, is a bright, ambitious student at Smith College who begins to experience a mental breakdown while interning for a fashion magazine in New York. The plot parallels Plath's experience interning at Mademoiselle magazine and subsequent mental breakdown and suicide attempt.

Along with Anne Sexton, Plath is credited with advancing the genre of confessional poetry initiated by Robert Lowell and W. D. Snodgrass.

Plath was born during the Great Depression on October 27, 1932 in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, to Aurelia Schober Plath, a first-generation American of Austrian descent, and Otto Emile Plath, an immigrant from Grabow, Germany. Plath's father was a professor of apiology and German at Boston University and author of a book about bumblebees. Plath's mother was approximately twenty-one years younger than her husband. She met him while earning her masters degree in teaching. Otto was alienated from his family because he chose not to become a Lutheran minister, as his grandparents wanted him to be. They went as far as taking his name out of the family Bible.

In April 1935, Plath's brother Warren was born. The family moved to Winthrop, Massachusetts in 1936, where Plath spent much of her childhood on Johnson Avenue. Plath was raised a Unitarian Christian and had mixed feelings toward religion throughout her life. Plath's mother, Aurelia, had grown up in Winthrop, and her maternal grandparents, the Schobers, had lived in a section of the town called Point Shirley, a location mentioned in Plath's poetry. Plath published her first poem in Winthrop, in the Boston Herald's children's section, when she was eight years old.

Otto Plath died on November 5, 1940, a week and a half after Plath's eighth birthday, of complications following the amputation of a foot due to diabetes. He had become ill shortly after a close friend died of lung cancer. Comparing the similarities between his friend's symptoms and his own, Otto became convinced that he too was ill with lung cancer and did not seek treatment until his diabetes had progressed too far. Otto Plath is buried in Winthrop Cemetery, where his gravestone continues to attract readers of Plath's poem "Daddy." Aurelia Plath then moved her children and her parents to 26 Elmwood Road, Wellesley, Massachusetts, in 1942.. Visiting her father's grave prompted Plath to write the poem "Electra on Azalea path".

Plath attended Smith College, where she dated Yale senior Dick Norton during her junior year. Norton, upon whom the character of Buddy in The Bell Jar is based, contracted tuberculosis and was treated at the Ray Brook Sanatorium near Saranac Lake; while visiting Norton, Plath broke her leg skiing, an incident described in the novel as suicidal, but in her journals she describes it as a legitimate accident (the suicidal aspect was likely fictionalized for the novel, which is not her biography).

During the summer after her third year of college, Plath was awarded a coveted position as guest editor at Mademoiselle magazine, during which she spent a month in New York City. The experience was not at all what she had hoped it would be, beginning within her a seemingly downward spiral in her outlook on herself and life in general. Many of the events that took place during that summer were later used as inspiration for her novel The Bell Jar. Following this experience, Plath made her first medically documented suicide attempt by crawling under her house and taking an overdose of sleeping pills. Details of her attempts at suicide are chronicled in her book. After her suicide attempt, Plath was briefly committed to a mental institution where she received electroconvulsive therapy. Her stay at McLean Hospital was paid for by Olive Higgins Prouty, who had also funded the scholarship awarded to Plath to attend Smith. Prouty had sucessfully recovered from a mental breakdown herself. Plath seemed to make an acceptable recovery and graduated from Smith with honors in June 1955.

She obtained a Fulbright scholarship to Cambridge University where she continued actively writing poetry, occasionally publishing her work in the student newspaper Varsity. It was at a party given in Cambridge that she met the English poet Ted Hughes. They were married on June 16, 1956 (Bloomsday) at St George the Martyr Holborn after a short courtship.

Plath and Hughes spent from July 1957 to October 1959 living and working in the United States, where Plath taught at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. The couple then moved to Boston where Plath audited seminars by Robert Lowell that were also attended by Anne Sexton. At this time, Plath and Hughes also met, for the first time, W. S. Merwin, who admired their work and was to remain a lifelong friend.

Upon learning that Plath was pregnant, the couple moved back to the United Kingdom. Plath and Hughes lived in London for a while on Chalcot Square near the Primrose Hill area of Regent's Park, and then settled in the small market town of North Tawton in Devon. While there, Plath published her first collection of poetry, The Colossus. In February 1961 she suffered a miscarriage, and a number of her poems address this event.

Plath's marriage to Hughes was fraught with difficulties, particularly surrounding his affair with Assia Wevill, and the couple separated in late 1962. She returned to London with their children, Frieda and Nicholas, and rented a flat at 23 Fitzroy Road (only a few streets from the Chalcot Square flat) in a house where W. B. Yeats once lived. Plath was pleased by this fact and considered it a good omen.

Plath took her own life on the morning of February 11, 1963. Leaving out bread and milk, she completely sealed the rooms between herself and her sleeping children with "wet towels and cloths." Plath then placed her head in the oven while the gas was turned on. The next day, an inquiry ruled that her death was a suicide.

It has been suggested that Plath's suicide attempt was too precise and coincidental, and that she had not intended to succeed in killing herself. Apparently, she had previously asked Mr. Thomas, her downstairs neighbour, what time he would be leaving; and a note had been placed that read "Call Dr. Horder" and listed his phone number. Therefore, it is argued that Plath must have turned the gas on at a time when Mr. Thomas should have been waking and beginning his day. This theory maintains that the gas, for several hours, seeped through the floor and reached Mr. Thomas and another resident of the floor below. Also, an au pair was to arrive at nine o'clock that morning to help Plath with the care of her children. Upon arrival, the au pair could not get into the flat, but was eventually let in by painters, who had a key to the front door.

Plath's gravestone in Heptonstall churchyard bears the inscription "Even amidst fierce flames the golden lotus can be planted." The gravestone has been repeatedly vandalized by some of Plath's supporters who have chiseled the name "Hughes" off it. This practice intensified following the suicide in 1969 of Assia Wevill, the woman for whom Ted Hughes had left Plath, which led to claims that Hughes had been abusive toward Plath. "Hughes" is now written in bronze in order to prevent future vandalism.

On March 16, 2009, Plath's son, Nicholas Hughes, also committed suicide at the age of 47.

Plath began keeping a diary at age 11, and kept journals until her suicide. Her adult diaries, starting from her freshman year at Smith College in 1950, were first published in 1980 as The Journals of Sylvia Plath, edited by Frances McCullough. In 1982, when Smith College acquired Plath's remaining journals, Hughes sealed two of them until February 11, 2013, the fiftieth anniversary of Plath's death.

During the last years of his life, Hughes began working on a fuller publication of Plath's journals. In 1998, shortly before his death, he unsealed the two journals, and passed the project onto his children by Plath, Frieda and Nicholas, who passed it on to Karen V. Kukil. Kukil finished her editing in December 1999, and in 2000 Anchor Books published The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath. According to the back cover, roughly two-thirds of the Unabridged Journals is newly released material. The American author Joyce Carol Oates hailed the publication as a "genuine literary event".

Plath has been criticized for her controversial allusions to the Holocaust, and is known for her uncanny use of metaphor. Her work has been compared to and associated with Anne Sexton, W.D. Snodgrass, and other confessional poets.

While the few critics who responded to Plath's first book, The Colossus, did so favorably, it has also been described as somewhat staid and conventional in comparison to the much more free-flowing imagery and intensity of her later work.

The poems in Ariel mark a departure from her earlier work into a more personal arena of poetry. It is a possibility that Lowell's poetry—which is often labeled "confessional"—played a part in this shift. Indeed, in an interview before her death she listed Lowell's Life Studies as an influence. The impact of Ariel was dramatic, with its potentially autobiographical descriptions of mental illness in poems such as, "Tulips", "Daddy" and "Lady Lazarus".

In 1982, Plath became the first poet to win a Pulitzer Prize posthumously for The Collected Poems. In 2006, a graduate student at Virginia Commonwealth University discovered a previously unpublished sonnet written by Plath entitled "Ennui". The poem, composed during Plath's early years at Smith College, is published in Blackbird, the online journal.

As Plath's widower, Hughes became the executor of Plath's personal and literary estates. This proved to be controversial, as it is uncertain whether Plath had begun divorce proceedings before her death: if she had, Hughes' inheritance of the Plath estate would have been in dispute. In letters to Aurelia Plath and Richard Murphy, Plath writes that she was applying for a divorce. However, Hughes said in a letter to The Guardian that Plath did not seriously consider divorce, and claims they were discussing reconciliation mere days before her death. He consequently oversaw the publication of her manuscripts, including Ariel (1965). He claimed to have destroyed the final volume of Plath’s journal, detailing their last few months together.

Many critics accused Hughes of attempting to control the publications for his own ends, although the money earned from Plath's poetry was placed into a trust account for their two children Frieda and Nicolas. Examples cited include his censoring of parts of her journals that portrayed him unfavorably, and his editing of Ariel, changing the order of the poems in the book from the sequence she had intended and left at her death, as well as removing several poems. However, the poems were removed and the order changed for several reasons, including the request of the American publishers. Critics argue this prevented what was intended to be a more uplifting beginning and ending of Ariel, and that the poems removed were the ones most readily identified as being about Hughes.

Hughes hired an accountant to keep track of the estate, but the accountant did a poor job. A large and looming tax bill caused Hughes to convince Plath's mother, Aurelia, to publish The Bell Jar in the United States. Because of this, she later asked Hughes' permission to publish a volume of Plath's letters, to which he agreed with strong reservations.

Ironically, Hughes' sister, Olwyn — who was never close to and often openly hostile toward Plath during her life — eventually took over much of the duties of executor of the Plath estate. Like her brother, Olwyn Hughes was seen as being overly aggressive in limiting permissions if the works cast Hughes in an unfavorable light.

In the realms of criticism and biographies published after her death, the debate about Plath's work very often resembles a struggle between readers who side with her and readers who side with Hughes.

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Sylvia Plath effect

The Sylvia Plath effect is a term coined by psychologist James C. Kaufman in 2001 to refer to the phenomenon that creative writers are more susceptible to mental illness. Kaufman's work demonstrated that female poets were more likely to suffer from mental illness than any other class of writers. This finding has been discussed in many international newspapers, including the New York Times. The finding is consistent with other psychological research studies.

The effect is named after the American poet Sylvia Plath.

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Confessional poetry

Confessional poetry traffics in intimate, and sometimes unflattering, information about details of the poet's personal life, such as in poems about illness, sexuality, and despondence. The confessionalist label was applied to a number of poets of the 1950s and 1960s. John Berryman, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, Theodore Roethke, Anne Sexton, and William De Witt Snodgrass have all been called 'Confessional Poets'. As fresh and different as the work of these poets appeared at the time, it is also true that several poets prominent in the canon of Western literature, perhaps most notably Sextus Propertius and Petrarch, could easily share the label of "confessional" with the confessional poets of the fifties and sixties.

In a letter to The Guardian on 20 April 1989, Ted Hughes wrote that there was a "Fantasia about Sylvia Plath".. Plath's life and poetry have been constructed in such a way as to perpetuate particular fictions about her marriage, mental illness, and "autobiographic" writing, and although this may in part be due to a mythologizing tendency among critics and biographers, it can be shown how Plath fictionalizes herself in her writing.

Later writers such as Denise Levertov, Adrienne Rich, and Audre Lorde present personal difficulties in a socio-political context. For example, Lorde's poem, "Coal" reflects on such personal problems within a given cultural context. Levertov's "Life at War" presents something inextricably personal bound in the conflict of the age.

What defines poetry as confessional is not the subject matter, but how the issue represented is explored. Confessional poetry explores personal details about the authors' life without meekness, modesty, or discretion. Because of this, confessional poetry is a popular form of creative writing that many people enjoy not only to read but to embark upon. Another element that is specific to this poetry is self-revelation achieved through creating the poem. This passes on to the reader, and a connection is made.

Confessional free verse poetry seemed to have become the dominant approach in late 20th-century American poetry. Robert Bly in the preface to his 1983 translation of Antonio Machado's poetry, Times Alone, praised Machado for "his emphasis on the suffering of others rather than his own". The reaction to confessional poetry has sparked new movements such as that of the Language poets and New Formalism.

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Anne Sexton

Grave of Anne Sexton

Anne Sexton (born Anne Gray Harvey) (November 9, 1928, Newton, Massachusetts—October 4, 1974, Weston, Massachusetts) was an American poet and writer.

Sexton was born in Newton, Massachusetts, and spent most of her life near Boston, Massachusetts. She was born to Ralph Gray Harvey and Mary Gray Staples. In 1945, she began attending a boarding school, Rogers Hall, in Lowell, Massachusetts and later spent a year at Garland School, a finishing school in Boston. For a time as a young woman, she modeled for Boston's Hart Agency. On August 16, 1948, she eloped with Alfred "Kayo" Sexton. They remained married until 1973.

Sexton suffered from complex mental illness. Her first manic episode took place in 1954. After a second breakdown in 1955, she met Dr. Martin Orne, who was to become her longtime therapist, at Glenside Hospital. Sexton believed she was not valuable except in her ability to please men and told Orne in her first interview that her only talent might be for prostitution. He later told her that his evaluation showed that she had a creative side and encouraged her to take up poetry..

Though she was very nervous about it and needed a friend to make the phone call and accompany her to the first workshop, she enrolled in her first poetry workshop with John Holmes as instructor.

After the workshop, Sexton experienced remarkably quick success with her poetry, with her poems accepted by The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, and the Saturday Review. Sexton also studied with Robert Lowell at Boston University alongside distinguished poets Sylvia Plath and George Starbuck.

Sexton's poetic life was further encouraged by her mentor, W.D. Snodgrass, whom she met at the Antioch Writer's Conference in 1957. His poem, "Heart's Needle", about his separation from his three year old daughter, encouraged her to write "The Double Image," a poem significant in expressing the multi-generational relationships existing between mother and daughter. "Heart's Needle" was particularly inspirational to Sexton because at the time she first read it her own young daughter was living with her mother-in-law. Sexton began writing letters to Snodgrass and they soon became friends. While working with Holmes, Sexton encountered Maxine Kumin, with whom she became good friends throughout the rest of her life. Kumin and Sexton rigorously critiqued each other's work, and wrote four children's books together. In the late 1960s, the manic elements of Sexton's illness began to affect her career. She still wrote and published work and gave readings of her poetry. She also collaborated with musicians, forming a jazz-rock group called "Her Kind" that added music to her poetry. She also wrote "Mercy Street", a play produced off-Broadway after several years of revisions in 1969.

On October 4, 1974, Sexton had lunch with Kumin to review Sexton's most recent book, The Awful Rowing Toward God. Upon returning home, she put on her mother's old fur coat, locked herself in her garage, started the engine of her car and committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning.

In an interview over a year before her death she explained she had written the first drafts of The Awful Rowing Toward God in twenty days with "two days out for despair and three days out in a mental hospital." She went on to say that she would not allow the poems to be published before her death. She is buried at Forest Hills Cemetery & Crematory in Jamaica Plain, Boston, Massachusetts.

Sexton is seen as the modern model of the confessional poet. She was inspired by the publication of Snodgrass' Heart's Needle, and her work encompasses issues specific to women such as menstruation, abortion, and more broadly masturbation and adultery, before such subjects were commonly addressed in poetic discourse.

The title for her eighth collection of poetry and one of her last writings, The Awful Rowing Toward God, came from her meeting with a Roman Catholic priest who, although unwilling to administer the last rites, did tell her: "God is in your typewriter," which gave the poet the desire and willpower to continue living and writing. Her last writings expressed her strange hunger for death: The Death Notebooks and The Awful Rowing Toward God.

Her work started out as being about herself As her career progressed she made periodic attempts to reach outside of her own life Poet and critic Alicia Ostriker says, "he was the least reticent personally to have her poems 'mean something to someone else.'" Later she reached out of her own life story for themes in her poems. Transformations is one such book that attempts to use Grimm's fairy tales as the source for her poetry. Later she used Christopher Smart's Jubilate Agno and the Bible as the basis for some of her work.

Sexton's work is extremely difficult to separate from her life. When Sexton died in 1974, many people saw suicide and despair as the inevitable outcome of being a writer. At the time of Sexton's death, in the context of Sexton, Sylvia Plath who took her life in 1963, and to a certain extent John Berryman and Robert Lowell, poets Adrienne Rich and Denise Levertov protested in separate obituaries the confusion between creativity and death that Sexton's own demise represented. Denise Levertov says, "we who are alive must make clear, as she could not, the distinction between creativity and self-destruction." Adrienne Rich wrote about how women's anger is considered socially acceptable as long as it is turned inward, as Sexton's addictions to pills, alcohol and finally dying by her own hand, illustrate.

But it also is praised as being honest, with many people admiring the self taught aspects of her life. By the end of her life the woman who had never graduated college had accumulated a Pulitzer Prize, several fellowships and several honorary doctorates. She worked and succeeded in a male dominated field that valued tradition and traditional educations in English literature. In the celebrity obsessed world of the 1960s that continues today, Sexton's life reverberates with meaning about the implications of celebrity and its effects on the artist's life.

Dr. Orne diagnosed her with bipolar disorder, but his competence to do so is called into question by his early use of unsound psychotherapeutic techniques. During sessions with Sexton he used hypnosis and sodium pentothal to recover supposedly repressed memories, while actually using suggestion to implant false memories of childhood sexual abuse, stated to be untrue from interviews with her mother and other relatives. However this is contradicted by Martin Orne's obituary in The New York Times. The article states that as early as a Harvard undergraduate, Dr. Orne wrote that hypnosis in an adult frequently does not present accurate memories of childhood, instead "adults under hypnosis are not literally reliving their early childhoods but presenting them through the prisms of adulthood". According to Dr. Orne, Anne Sexton was extremely suggestible and would mimic the symptoms of the patients around her in the mental hospitals she was committed. Dr. Orne eventually concluded that Anne Sexton was suffering from hysteria.

The Middlebrook biography also states that Anne Sexton had another personality emerge, named "Elizabeth", while under hypnosis. Dr. Orne refused to encourage this development. Subsequently this "alternate personality" disappeared. Anne Sexton's life is rich in implications in the study of the construction of mental illness and what it implies and directly says for women and for humanity.

When Diane Middlebrook published her biography of Anne Sexton with the approval of Sexton's daughter and literary executor, Linda, it attracted extreme amounts of controversy. Dr. Orne gave Diane Wood Middlebrook the bulk of the tapes made in the therapy sessions between Orne and Sexton for her to use in Middlebrook's biography of Anne Sexton. These tapes were released to Middlebrook, her biographer, after she had written a substantial amount of the first draft of Sexton's biography. The addition of the tapes forced her to start the biography over.

Controversy from the posthumous public release of tapes recorded during Sexton's psychotherapy (and thus subject to doctor-patient confidentiality), revealed Sexton's inappropriate behavior with her daughter Linda, her physically violent behavior towards her daughters and her physical altercations with her husband. While writing the biography Linda Gray Sexton confirmed to the book's author, Diane Wood Middlebrook, that she had been sexually assaulted by her mother.

However, for many people the real scandal was not the release of the therapy tapes but the fact that Sexton had an affair with the therapist that replaced Dr. Orne in the sixties. No action was taken to censure or discipline the second therapist. "What if one of the many doctors -- Dr. Orne included -- who knew about the relationship had blown the whistle on instead of putting his career ahead of Sexton's sanity." Dr. Orne considered the affair with the second therapist (given the pseudonym "Ollie Zweizung" by Diane Wood Middlebrook and Linda Sexton), to be the catalyst that eventually resulted in her suicide.

These occurrences attracted considerable attention. Sexton's family expressed strong opinions, both for and against the biography in several editorials and op-ed pieces, mainly in The New York Times and The New York Times Book Review.

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Ted Hughes

1 Aspinall Street, Mytholmroyd, West Yorkshire, where Ted Hughes was born.

Edward James Hughes OM (17 August 1930 – 28 October 1998) was an English poet and children's writer, known as Ted Hughes. Critics routinely rank him as one of the best poets of his generation. Hughes was British Poet Laureate from 1984 until his death.

Hughes was married from 1956 to 1963 to the American poet Sylvia Plath, who committed suicide in 1963 at the age of 30. His part in the relationship became controversial, to some feminists and (particularly) US admirers of Plath. Hughes himself never publicly entered the debate, but his last poetic work, Birthday Letters (1998), explored their complex relationship. To some, it put him in a significantly better light whereas, to others, it seemed a failed attempt to deflect blame from himself and onto a neurotic father fixation he ascribed to Plath.

Hughes was born on 17 August 1930 at number 1, Aspinal Street, in Mytholmroyd, West Yorkshire to William Henry and Edith (née Farrar) Hughesand raised among the local farms in the area. According to Hughes, "My first 6 years shaped everything." When Hughes was seven, his family moved to Mexborough, South Yorkshire, where they ran a newsagents and tobacco shop. He had a brother, Gerald, who was ten years older, as well as a sister, Olwyn, two years older. His writing was encouraged by his teachers at Mexborough Grammar School, and in 1946 one of his early poems Wild West and a short story were published in the grammar school magazine The Don and Dearne, followed by further poems in 1948.

During the same year, Hughes won an Open Exhibition in English at Pembroke College, Cambridge, but chose to do his National Service first. His two years of National Service (1949–51) passed comparatively easily. Hughes was stationed as a ground wireless mechanic in the RAF on an isolated three-man station in east Yorkshire — a time of which he mentions that he had nothing to do but read and reread Shakespeare and watch the grass grow.

Hughes studied English, anthropology and archaeology at Pembroke College, Cambridge. At this time his first published poetry appeared in the journal he started with fellow students, St. Botolph's Review, and at a party to launch the magazine he met Sylvia Plath. He and Plath married at St George the Martyr Holborn on 16 June 1956, four months after they had first met.

Hughes and Plath had two children, Frieda Rebecca and Nicholas Farrar, but separated in the autumn of 1962. He continued to live at Court Green, North Tawton, Devon irregularly with his lover Assia Wevill after Plath's death on 11 February 1963, but the relationship eventually lost its appeal for him, and he became involved with other women. As Plath's widower, Hughes became the executor of Plath’s personal and literary estates. He oversaw the publication of her manuscripts, including Ariel (1966). He also claimed to have destroyed the final volume of Plath’s journal, detailing their last few months together. In his foreword to The Journals of Sylvia Plath, he defends his actions as a consideration for the couple's young children.

Six years after Plath's suicide by asphyxiation from a gas stove, on 25 March 1969, Assia Wevill murdered her four-year old daughter by Hughes and committed suicide in the same way as Plath had; Alexandra Tatiana Elise, nicknamed Shura, had been born on 3 March 1965.

In August 1970, Hughes married a nurse named Carol Orchard. They remained together despite his many affairs over the years, until his death. He received the Order of Merit from Queen Elizabeth II just before he died.

Ted Hughes continued to live at the house in Devon, until his fatal heart attack on 28 October 1998, while undergoing treatment for colon cancer. His funeral was held at North Tawton church, and he was cremated at Exeter, with the ashes scattered on Dartmoor, near Cranmere Pool (by special Royal permission).

A memorial walk from the Devon village of Belstone to Hughes' memorial stone above the River Taw was inaugurated in 2005 on land belonging to the Duchy of Cornwall. The granite memorial is somewhat controversial locally—according to some sources, it was airlifted into place on the moors using Prince Charles' helicopter, an honour not afforded to any other Devon figure.

Hughes' son with Plath, Nicholas Hughes, committed suicide on March 16, 2009 after battling depression.

Hughes' earlier poetic work is rooted in nature and, in particular, the innocent savagery of animals, an interest from an early age. Tennyson's phrase "nature, red in tooth and claw" could have been written for Hughes. He is acutely aware of the mixture of beauty and violence in the natural world, and writes of it with fascination, fear and awe. He finds in animals a metaphor for his view on life: animals live out a struggle for the survival of the fittest in the same way that humans strive for ascendancy and success. A classic example is Hawk Roosting.

His later work is deeply reliant upon myth and the bardic tradition, heavily inflected with a modernist, existential and satirical viewpoint. Hughes' first collection, Hawk in the Rain (1957) attracted considerable critical acclaim. In 1959 he won the Galbraith prize which brought $5,000. His most significant work is perhaps Crow (1970), which whilst it has been widely acclaimed also divided critics, combining an apocalyptic, bitter, cynical and surreal view of the universe with what appears to be simple, sometimes (superficially) badly constructed verse. Hughes worked for ten years on a prose poem "Gaudete", which he hoped to have made into a film. It tells the story of a survival struggle between twins, and it illustrates the pattern of love and strife in his most intimate relationships. It was printed in 1970. Hughes was very interested in the relationship between his poetry and the book arts and many of his books were produced by fine presses and in collaborative editions with artists, for instance with Leonard Baskin.

Tales from Ovid (1997) contains a selection of free verse translations from Ovid's Metamorphoses. In Birthday Letters, Hughes broke his silence on Plath, detailing aspects of their life together and his own behaviour at the time. The cover artwork was by their daughter Frieda.

In addition to poetry, Hughes wrote classical opera librettos and children's books. One of these, The Iron Man, was written to comfort his children after Sylvia Plath's suicide. It later became the basis of Pete Townshend's rock opera of the same name. Hughes was appointed as Poet Laureate in 1984 following the death of John Betjeman. It was later known that Hughes was second choice for the appointment after Philip Larkin, the preferred nominee, declined, because of ill health and writer's block. Hughes served in this position until his death in 1998. In 1993 his monumental work inspired by Graves' The White Goddess was published. Shakespeare and the Goddess of Complete Being is considered to be a great and unique work amongst Shakespeare studies. His definitive 1,333-page Collected Poems (Faber & Faber) appeared in 2003.

In 2003, he was portrayed by British actor Daniel Craig in Sylvia, a biographical film of Sylvia Plath.

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Source : Wikipedia