On the day she met Ted Hughes, Sylvia knew that their relationship would end tragically. “One day I will die from him,” she wrote in her diary.
It is not a matter of poetry or even the ability to predict the future: a girl from her youth suffered from severe depressive disorder and tried several times to commit suicide, so anything could lead to her death. We warn you right away: in this story there is a lot of drama, tragedy and death.
Sylvia knew about Ted before they met. Ted was an English poet, Sylvia an American student who came to England to study literature. She read his poems in the newspaper and, dreaming of becoming a poetess herself, wanted to meet him.
They met at a party in Cambridge, where Sylvia came in hopes of seeing him. But love happened not only because of the verses: in her diaries, she admitted that Hughes was “the only guy tall enough for me” at that party (her height is 1.75 m).
Further events developed very quickly: “We made love all day, from morning to evening.” Everything was like in typical American romcoms: love at first sight, she throws her student boyfriend for the sake of great love, and he – stones in her windows, which eventually turn out to be strangers.
The couple got married a few months later. They dedicated poems to each other, taught, traveled a lot and at one time were fond of occult rituals, according to the diary of Sylvia. In general, they did everything that you expect from a pair of lovers of letters.
They spent their honeymoon in Spain, lived in America for a year, and settled in London in 1963. All this time, Sylvia was treated by a psychotherapist and suffered from deep depression, which from time to time was replaced by euphoria.
In 1960, their first daughter Frida was born. A year later, Sylvia had a miscarriage, and then her life became like a psychological thriller. True, with the diagnosis of “severe depressive disorder,” she could not be different. In a letter to her therapist, Sylvia admitted that Ted beat her 2 days before the miscarriage. She was too much attached to her husband to leave him. In 1962, a couple was born to a son.
Around the same time, the spouses were visited by a friend of Ted along with his wife Asya. David Weville was a Canadian poet and translator, Asya worked in advertising, from time to time wrote poetry and changed husbands (David was the third in a row, not counting fleeting hobbies). “The dreamer in me fell in love with her,” Hughes wrote in one of his poems.
Sylvia suspected that her husband was cheating on her with Asya. Everything became apparent when the couple went on vacation to Ireland: after 4 days, Ted returned to London for no reason and went with Asya to Spain – the same place where he spent his honeymoon with Sylvia.
Plath and Hughes divorced in July 1962, having lived together for 7 years. Despite such a short time, they became one of the most discussed couples of the twentieth century – largely due to the tragic end.
In February 1963, Sylvia committed suicide. In the early morning, she tightly closed the doors to the children's rooms, put wet towels under them, took a large dose of sleeping pills, turned on the gas in the oven and put her head in there. She was 30 years old.
After her death, Ted returned to the children with Asya. She slept in the bed of Sylvia, raised her children, and after 6 years committed suicide, exactly repeating the actions of Sylvia. True, before this, Asya still killed her daughter.
Ted Hughes was first accused of killing Sylvia and then Asi, but this did not prevent him from gaining recognition in literary circles. In appearance – a talented poet and children's writer, in fact – an abuser.
The real love story of Sylvia and Ted, we are likely to never know. She was kept only in the diaries of the poetess, who after death went to Ted. He removed a third of the text from it (mostly references to himself), and completely destroyed her last diary before suicide.
In 2017, Sylvia's letters to her psychotherapist were sold at an auction – in them the girl writes that she was subjected to physical and psychological violence from Hughes, although their marriage was filled with love and happy moments.
Not all love is flowers and romance. Of course, in the modern world, facts about violence would not have gone unnoticed (at least in the case of a famous person). But there is a happy ending in every tragic story: feminists from all over the world have united against Hughes and have begun an active fight against domestic violence, and Sylvia’s suffering brought her inspiration and international recognition. Let posthumous.
See also: Love in photographs: Salvatore and Wanda Ferragamo