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March 23, 2009

Breaking news: Son of Sylvia Plath commits suicide


Sylvia Plath with her son, Nicholas, taken shortly before her death

Sylvia Plath with her son, Nicholas, taken shortly before her death

Nicholas Hughes — the son of poets Ted Hughes and Slyvia Plath — has taken his own life at the age of 47, according to this report from The Times of London by Ben Hoyle. Nicholas Hughes, along with his sister Frieda, was, famously, in the house when his mother gassed herself, after sealing her two small children off in a separate room. Hoyle notes Hughes had recently left his position as a professor of fisheries and ocean sciences at the University of Alaska Fairbanks to “set up a pottery at home.”

“He had been battling depression for some time,” said his sister, Frieda Hughes. “His lifelong fascination with fish and fishing was a strong and shared bond with our father (many of whose poems were about the natural world). He was a loving brother, a loyal friend to those who knew him and, despite the vagaries that life threw at him, he maintained an almost childlike innocence and enthusiasm for the next project or plan.”

His death, which occurred on March 16, comes 46 years after the suicide of his mother, and is announced today, on the 40th anniversary of the copycat suicide of his step-mother, Assia Wevill — the famous “other woman” for whom Ted Hughes left Plath.

Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House. Follow him on Twitter at @mobylives