08 October 2010

Guardian Podcast features segment on Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes

The Guardian Books section recently posted a Podcast in which they discuss, among other topics, National Poetry Day and the "difficulties surrounding the publication of a newly discovered Ted Hughes poem written immediately after Sylvia Plath's death." Written immediately? Seriously?


Anna said...

Yeah... this is crazy how fast the rumors start, how fast people are staring to mix and make things up!

Not even 24 hours passed sinde the publication of the poem and I already found three "myths" http://lovingsylvia.tumblr.com/post/1268330468/last-letter-myths

1) Ted Hughes’ LOST Poem On Sylvia Plath’s Suicide Unveiled

2) LOST-UNTIL-NOW Ted Hughes poem about Sylvia Plath’s suicide

3) Ted Hughes’s LAST poem

4) Never before poem BY Sylvia Plath just published

I really don't get how or why people don't care, don't listen or whatever!

But these are only "regular" people... however, this is also how rumors start and in a year nobody will know what's true or not... I bet, we'll find a headline "Ted Hughe's last, lost until now poem written immediately after Sylvia's suicide... by Sylvia Plath herself"


Anna said...

I found something else, but I'm not sure what to think about this


"He seems to have wrestled with the poem for some 30 years"

What do you think, Peter? I mean, why someone assumes he was working on it for over 30 years? Only, because there are three drafts and because he never published it? Isn't it a little far-fetched?

Anonymous said...

Anna, it may have been Roy Davies who commented that Hughes didn't start writing about Sylvia and their relationship until the
1970's. So that would have been about 30 years before he died. But you are correct in that we don't know when Hughes wrote it or how long he labored over it. kim

phdavies said...

Ugh, this podcast is the least illuminating piece I have heard on Last Letters so far. This whole debate about whether the poem should or shouldn't be published is surely irrelevant? The estate sold his papers to the British Library (which I imagine he had got into some order before his death knowing for a long time that he was ill) and his widow, Carol Hughes, approved its publication. Surely she of all people would know what her husband would have wanted? This poem is too important to not be out there!

Anna said...

Can someone enlighten me about SUSAN, pls? I'm not sure if I understood everything, because I'm not an English native speaker, but he is talking about a real woman, isn't he?
Can it be some kind of a pseudonym for Assia?

Peter K Steinberg said...


That is Susan Alliston, a poet that Hughes knew - I guess in both a platonic and biblical sense. Recently Alliston's poems were published with an intro Hughes wrote for them by the same press that published Daniel Huws' memoir and Lucas Myers new memoirs.

If we take the poem at face value Hughes was still married to Plath, but seeing both Assia and Susan. A revelation for sure.

You can learn more about her here.

Anonymous said...

Anna, he is speaking about Susan Alliston, a poet and friend of his(although it appears their relationship became more intimate around the time of the demise of his marriage to Sylvia. Susan died of Non Hodgkins lymphoma (I think that's right) around 1969. I found the book of her poems published fairly recently, on Amazon.com.uk - waiting for it to arrive in the mail. I think, too, she worked as a secretary at Faber & Faber. That's all I know off the bat. So, no, Susan is not an alias for Assia. kim

Anna said...

WOW!!!!! Now that's really a revelation (at least for me!).

If it's ok, my gonna reblog your answers on my blog, because a few people wrote to me and asked my about who Susan was!

Julia said...

Yeah, I think the most important thing to come from this poem is the clarification of Hughes' relationship with Susan Alliston.

And then I step back, and wonder if any of it really means anything at all of importance?

I just bought Susan Alliston's book of poems yesterday (I got the last one on Amazon. Check Alibris and other sites) and am awaiting its arrival. Thanks to L for the tip-off!

Anonymous said...

Julia, you will laugh, I'm sure, when you hear that I bought the Alliston book last night from Amazon - I think it said there was one left, then I saw a UK seller had a copy for $10 including shipping, so I bought it from that seller - great minds must think alike :-) kim

Melanie Smith said...

Bought it from book depository :)

Anonymous said...

Melanie, you must be psychic! :-) kim

Peter K Steinberg said...


Sorry to be deliquent. Rather than reblog comments (unless you already have) it would be better (and easier I think) to simply refer people to this blog. If other readers have comments why separate them from the original context?


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