23 June 2007

Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes house for sale

This story ran in the Cambridge Evening News, 23 June, 2007

Love nest of poets Ted and Sylvia up for sale
Cameron Ramos

A HOUSE once lived in by poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath has gone up for sale for more than half a million pounds.

The couple began probably the best period of their stormy six-year marriage at 55 Eltisley Avenue in Cambridge, living there from October 1956 to May 1957.

Selling agents Pocock and Shaw describe the house in the Newnham area of the city as a spacious four-bedroom family home in a much sought-after residential location.

The famous couple were a little less prosaic. In her letters, Plath talked about the Edwardian grate and the apple tree in the garden, and Ted Hughes, who in 1984 was to become Poet Laureate, wrote a poem called 55 Eltisley Avenue.

Dr Terry Llewellyn, a retired director of German Studies at Christ's College, Cambridge, is selling the house.

He said: "This house was converted into two flats back then. It had a typical English kitchen and Sylvia Plath, being American, was used to the latest technology but she coped and cooked for Ted Hughes and his friends.

"In her letters she talks about the Edwardian grate and the apple tree in the garden, which are still there now.

"We've had quite a lot of people coming here, mostly American women who make a pilgrimage to the city. I show them what there is to see."

Sylvia Plath, author of The Bell Jar, came to Cambridge on a Fulbright Scholarship, and embarked on a two-year course at the university.

She was affiliated to Newnham College and lived at Whitstead, a college building in Barton Road.
Jean Gooder, who is a retired director of studies in English at Newnham, remembers both Plath and Hughes from those days.

She said: "I was a contemporary of Sylvia Plath and did not know her well because she was a year behind me as she came over to do the two-year course and one didn't see much of the other years.

"I remember she was quite a blonde bombshell and very ambitious and clearly heading straight for the elite literary heights of Cambridge and of course she met Ted.

"I met him and he was quite a formidable, dark and fascinating figure; very powerful and influential. He moved with a small group and they clearly were, in literary terms, the most creative. They were not following any conventional tracks at all but neither was she."
The estate agents said they were close to selling the property, which is on the market at £550,000.
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