Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath
Edward James "Ted" Hughes (1930-1998) was an English poet and children's writer. Critics routinely rank him as one of the best poets of his generation. Hughes was married to American poet Sylvia Plath, from 1956 until her death by suicide in 1963. His most significant work is perhaps Crow (1970). Despite being widely praised, Crow also divided critics, combining an apocalyptic, bitter, cynical and surreal view of the universe with what sometimes appeared simple, childlike verse. In addition to his own poetry, Hughes wrote a number of translations of European plays, mainly classical ones. His Tales from Ovid (1997) contains a selection of free verse translations from Ovid's Metamorphoses. Hughes also wrote both poetry and prose for children, one of his most successful books being The Iron Man, written to comfort his children after Sylvia Plath's suicide. In his last collection, Birthday Letters, Hughes broke his silence on Plath, detailing aspects of their life together and his own behavior at the time. Hughes' definitive 1,333-page Collected Poems appeared (posthumously) in 2003.
Although Sylvia Plath (1932-1963) only published two major works during her lifetime, she was one of the most dynamic and admired poets of the twentieth century. By the time she took her life at the age of thirty, Plath already had a following in poetry circles. After her death her stature only grew, as a member of the “confessional” school of poetry. Her work has attracted the attention of a multitude of readers, who see in her singular verse an attempt to catalogue despair, violent emotion, and obsession with death. Intensely autobiographical, Plath's poems explore her own mental anguish, her troubled marriage to fellow poet Ted Hughes, her unresolved conflicts with her parents, and her own vision of herself.
Go here for the finding aid to the Ted Hughes Papers at Washington University, which includes the Sylvia Plath letters included in this digital exhibit.