24 March 2009


The aftermath of Nicholas Hughes' suicide is now upon us. Judith Flanders writes in The Guardian today "This is not a curse Reactions to Nicholas Hughes's death are all too predictable". This is a very good response and reaction to the sensation that blew in yesterday. Especially the closing paragraph.

And then on the other side:

Other recent news articles and obituaries are:
No matter anyone's opinions on Sylvia Plath, Nicholas Hughes, and the Hughes family - may Frieda Hughes and the remaining members of that line and the friends that cared for them have some privacy and peace. I had a phone call yesterday from Elizabeth (Compton) Sigmund who looked after Frieda and Nicholas in 1963 after Plath's death and remained in their lives throughout the 1960s. She was distraught and like the rest of us - without words. This is another difference between those invested in the work (and life) of Sylvia Plath and the media - those that actually care (in whatever degree it is possible from however removed we are) are just left speechless.

The School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks has created a memorial page for Nicholas Hughes. This may be the best place to learn about him.


Catty said...

I find it somewhat telling that the only pictures most of these papers are using of him are with his mother. So there's a huge photo of Sylvia Plath cradling a baby on the cover of the Times yesterday to illustrate the obituary of a 40-something man.
The Telegraph included one photo of the adult Hughes -- at his father's funeral, with his sister and stepmother.

Peter K Steinberg said...

Hi Catty. Yes, these pictures are quite telling about the angle they are taking. The Evening Standard's photo was of the adult Nicholas Hughes presumably in Alaska with a fish. Looking very much like his father, this picture is perhaps the best one printed, if I can say something like that. At least it gives context to his identity, to who he became - which is someone his parents would have been proud of.

It must be easier (to sell papers and get hits and "understand") to lump the two together.

Catty said...

Just read some of the other articles. That shit from the Daily Mail is absolutely vile, even for the Mail. And that First Post article is nothing but conjecture and claptrap.
I'll go have a look for the Evening Standard piece.

Anonymous said...

I can only imagine how Nicholas would be appalled at the haste with which his death is being judged, much like his mothers...and even used to further heap blame on her. Yes, these responses are, indeed, predictable...so much so that there is no need to read them. I just wish we wouldn't feature them so prominently here, where the most appropriate epitaph should properly be his mother's words, addressed to him in "Nick and the CAndlestick":

O love, how did you get here?
O embryo

Remembering, even in sleep,
Your crossed position.
The blood blooms clean

In you, ruby.
The pain
You wake to is not yours.

Love, love,
I have hung our cave with roses.
With soft rugs----

The last of Victoriana.
Let the stars
Plummet to their dark address,

Let the mercuric
Atoms that cripple drip
Into the terrible well,

You are the one
Solid the spaces lean on, envious.
You are the baby in the barn.


I am dismayed and heavy-hearted this morning....and my heart goes out to Frieda. May she find the strength to bear this further tragedy. --Jim Long

Anonymous said...

Agree with you completely, catty-the DAILY MAIL has exceeded itself in nastiness (and inaccuracy).The FIRST POST article is the worst kind of psychoanalytic (or quasi-psychoanalytic) claptrap : mother commits suicide, thus abandoning son who then grows up and kills himself. How reductionist.

Thanks, Peter, for the link to the memorial page. I've just been over there and read of a warm, intelligent, passionate and kind man who any parent would be proud to have as a son. May he rest in peace.

Catty said...

And the laughs just keep on coming: http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/poetry/article5970977.ece

Laurie said...

I know this is superficial, I've read few articles so far, but clicked on the memoriam link that has the two wonderful color photos of Nick at UAF...and there, finally, after reading about Plath's brown eyes, get to see them shining from Nicholas, in all their unexaggerated brilliance.

Peter K Steinberg said...

Laurie, Hi! Thank you for posting. I've read very few articles as well - preferring The Guardian to any other source I've stuck to them. Though The Times had the lead. I agree with your assessment of those two photographs on the memorial page.

Laurie said...

I just re-visited the memorial page to see if there were any new posts (there are) and re-viewed the pictures...and I know this is trivial, but this time I noticed that Nicholas has what appears to be a SAD light on his shelf.

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Publications & Acknowledgements

  • BBC Four.A Poet's Guide to Britain: Sylvia Plath. London: BBC Four, 2009. (Acknowledged in)
  • Biography: Sylvia Plath. New York: A & E Television Networks, 2005. (Photographs used)
  • Connell, Elaine. Sylvia Plath: Killing the angel in the house. 2d ed. Hebden Bridge: Pennine Pens, 1998. (Acknowledged in)
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives." Plath Profiles 2. Summer 2009: 183-208.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives, Redux." Plath Profiles 3. Summer 2010: 232-246.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives 3." Plath Profiles 4. Summer 2011: 119-138.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives 4: Looking for New England." Plath Profiles 5. Summer 2012: 11-56.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives 5: Reanimating the Past." Plath Profiles 6. Summer 2013: 27-62.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. These Ghostly Archives: The Unearthing of Sylvia Plath. Oxford: Fonthill, 2017.
  • Death Be Not Proud: The Graves of Poets. New York: Poets.org. (Photographs used)
  • Doel, Irralie, Lena Friesen and Peter K. Steinberg. "An Unacknowledged Publication by Sylvia Plath." Notes & Queries 56:3. September 2009: 428-430.
  • Elements of Literature, Third Course. Austin, Tex. : Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2009. (Photograph used)
  • Gill, Jo. "Sylvia Plath in the South West." University of Exeter Centre for South West Writing, 2008. (Photograph used)
  • Helle, Anita Plath. The Unraveling Archive: Essays on Sylvia Plath. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2007. (Photographs used, acknowledged in)
  • Helle, Anita. "Lessons from the Archive: Sylvia Plath and the Politics of Memory". Feminist Studies 31:3. Fall 2005: 631-652.. (Acknowledged in)
  • Holden, Constance. "Sad Poets' Society." Science Magazine. 27 July 2008. (Photograph used)
  • Making Trouble: Three Generations of Funny Jewish Women, Motion Picture. Directed by Rachel Talbot. Brookline (Mass.): Jewish Women's Archive, 2007. (Photograph used)
  • Plath, Sylvia, and Karen V. Kukil. The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, 1950-1962. New York: Anchor Books, 2000. (Acknowledged in)
  • Plath, Sylvia, and Peter K. Steinberg and Karen V. Kukil (eds.). The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Volume 1, 1940-1956. London: Faber, 2017.
  • Plath, Sylvia, and Peter K. Steinberg and Karen V. Kukil (eds.). The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Volume 2, 1956-1963. London: Faber, 2018.
  • Plath, Sylvia. Glassklokken. Oslo: De norske Bokklubbene, 2004. (Photograph used on cover)
  • Reiff, Raychel Haugrud. Sylvia Plath: The Bell Jar and Poems (Writers and Their Works). Marshall Cavendish Children's Books, 2008.. (Images provided)
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "'A Fetish: Somehow': A Sylvia Plath Bookmark." Court Green 13. 2017.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "'I Should Be Loving This': Sylvia Plath's 'The Perfect Place' and The Bell Jar." Plath Profiles 1. Summer 2008: 253-262.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "'They Had to Call and Call': The Search for Sylvia Plath." Plath Profiles 3. Summer 2010: 106-132.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "A Perfectly Beautiful Time: Sylvia Plath at Camp Helen Storrow." Plath Profiles 4. Summer 2011: 149-166.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "Proof of Plath." Fine Books & Collections 9:2. Spring 2011: 11-12.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "Sylvia Plath." The Spoken Word: Sylvia Plath. London: British Library, 2010.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "Textual Variations in The Bell Jar Publications." Plath Profiles 5. Summer 2012.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "The Persistence of Plath." Fine Books & Collections. Autumn 2017: 24-29
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "This is a Celebration: A Festschrift for The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath." Plath Profiles 3 Supplement. Fall 2010: 3-14.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "Writing Life" [Introduction]. Sylvia Plath in Devon: A Year's Turning. Stroud, Eng.: Fonthill Media, 2014.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. Sylvia Plath (Great Writers). Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2004.