The widespread belief that American poet Sylvia Plath killed herself after Ted Hughes left her for another woman could be…well, false. Jonathan Bate, author of Ted Hughes: The Unauthorised Life, reveals in The Guardian that Plath’s suicide letter may have mentioned another man, one she was intimate with in the last months of her life.
In countless biographies and Hollywood film adaptations, Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughe’s life has been depicted as follows: after six years of marriage and two children, Hughes left Plath for Assia Wevill, a woman who he described in his poem ‘Dreamers’ (Birthday Letters) as “Slightly filthy with erotic mystery – A German Russian Israeli with the gaze of a demon.”
On the fateful day Plath took her own life, she called Hughes incessantly, however was unable to reach him. The question then arises: did she call anyone else? Another man she was intimate with? New discoveries suggest that perhaps she did. In his article, Bate outlines compelling insights as to why this could be the case, the below being one:
“The story I have heard is this … Sinclair is convinced of the story’s truth because the source, who is no longer alive, was a woman of unimpeachable integrity, a much-loved editor named Frances Lindley at the publisher Harper & Row in New York. At a book party in the city, she spoke to someone who said that they had seen Plath’s last letter. It allegedly revealed that she did telephone another man that last weekend, in a desperate bid to renew their brief liaison. He told her that he was now in a relationship with another woman. Yet one more male rejection: this could have been the thing that tipped her over the edge.” (The Guardian)
So perhaps it wasn’t Hughes who drove her to her untimely demise, but a new lover. However as evidence is inconclusive at present, we’ll have to wait a little longer for the truth.
Read the full article here.