Sylvia Plath Letters Make Dark Allegation About Ted Hughes

Poet wrote that she miscarried two days after he beat her
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 15, 2017 2:50 PM CDT
Sylvia Plath Letters Allege Abuse by Husband Ted Hughes
In this undated file photo, American author Sylvia Plath is shown. In letters, she accused her husband Ted Hughes of beating her while she was pregnant.   (AP Photo, file)

It's long been known that American poet Sylvia Plath, who was married to the English poet Ted Hughes, suffered a miscarriage with their second child in 1961, a year before the poets separated. But now, unpublished letters Plath wrote to her former therapist and friend Dr. Ruth Barnhouse between February 1960 and February 1963 allege a dark detail: Plath wrote that Hughes beat her two days before the miscarriage and also told her that he wished she were dead, reports the Guardian. The Ted Hughes estate has responded on behalf of Carol Hughes, his widow, that Plath's unpublished claims are "as absurd as they are shocking to anyone who knew Ted well." Plath was treated by Barnhouse after a 1953 suicide attempt. She would eventually kill herself in 1963 at the age of 30.

Plath met Hughes as a Fulbright scholar at Cambridge in 1956, and they married within months and had a daughter and son. In the letters, Plath also wrote about the pain of Hughes' infidelity with their friend Assia Wevill in 1962. (A few years after that, Wevill killed herself and the 4-year-old daughter she had with Hughes after another Hughes affair, notes the Monitor. Like Plath, she used a gas oven.) Plath penned several poems about her miscarriage, including the line, "Already your doll grip lets go." Smith College, her alma mater, claims ownership of the letters in a lawsuit, which will keep the collection under wraps until settled. (Plath's son hanged himself in 2009.)

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