Book Description: [1976-1990], 1990. The Mother, the Neighbour and the Black Hand of Ted Hughes
A small archive of material deriving from the papers of Professor Trevor Thomas, Art Historian, occupant of the flat below that of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath at 23 Fitzroy Road, Primrose Hill, London. It includes:
a. Two Typed Letters Signed from Sylvia Plath's mother, Aurelia, airmail, to "Professor Thomas", detailed, 7 & 28 May 1976, one with handwritten date the other with a handwritten PS.
7 May 1976: She is responding to the haunting contents of a long letter from Thomas, convinced that Sylvia would have left letters for her family which she quotes Thomas[?] as saying were "destroyed when found". She comments that many inaccuracies have been written about Sylvia's work. For example The Bell Jar wasn't autobiographical. She discusses the absence of a will and "her divorce [not having been] finalized", and Ted Hughes inheriting copyright. She is anxious for the children of the marriage - the living should count - her daughter can't be brought back. Ted Hughes has matured enough to look after them (formerly "foundering in immaturity"). She fears that the memoir he plans will stir up a controversy damaging to the children's faith in their father and to Hughes's later marriage to "a fine young woman of good family, who is both wise and loving in regard to the children". She understands the injustice he has suffered but would rather the children weren't hurt by a terrible "revelation". She asks him to send "the poems" [poems written by Thomas after Plath's death - see below). "I do believe that as a very sensitive person you were attuned . . . to something beyond our comprehension and that it was connected with my Sylvia. She adds details of the negotiations she and Sylvia were having about a return "home" in the spring.
28 May 1976: She has only just been able to read the poems he sent. "These are written with Sylvia's voice . . ." she briefly theorises about the lingering spirit. Her grief is still alive after 13 years, and says that the last letter in Letters Home was in fact her last letter, and that "the biotter, accusatory letters had to be omitted for the children's sake". A paragraph about poet, Robin Morgan.* The critics have lambasted her about ellipses in the book of letters but she explains Hughes's control. She is upset at the ideas of "wild parties" in her "dead daughter's apartment". She is understanding of Thomas's statement that he would publish the poems cutting out "references to Ted Hughes that might hurt the children". "Will you do me one more favour? Please destroy this letter after reading it." The PS mentions Sylvia's brother, Warren.
*A photocopy of Robin Morgan's savage anti-Hughes poem is included in the same folder as the typescript of the memoir.
b. A folder of material, some original some [photocopy] copy, relating to a legal action brought by Hughes in 1990 against Thomas for defamation in the latter's memoir, Sylvia Plath: Last Encounter (privately published, 1989), comprising:
i. Notes, 6pp., of notes by Thomas for his solicitor (one starts "Apologise to Judge - I didn't mean to cause offence") and for him to do ("Ask Usher to ask judge").
ii. Legal documents (case of Edward James Hughes and trevor Thomas) including Statement of Claim (2 copies); Statement of Defence, 2pp; Writ of Summons, c.12pp.; Notice of Change, 1 Page; Notice of Motion, 3pp. ("the Defendant having failed to serve a Defence, Judgment ot be entered for the Plaintiff for such sum by way of damages for libel as may be assessed.
iii. [Photocopy?] Letter from Ted Hughes's to Thomas's solicitors, 16 Feb. 1990, referring to the Statement of Claim and adding their view that Thomas has made defamatory statements in his memoir. Thomas has added a couple of annotations indicating resentment of the memory of an 80-year old being impugned and disagreement with the letter's thrust ("NOT SO").
iv. Copy letter from Thomas to Hughes lawyers, Nabarro Nathanson, saying he can't.