New collection highlights the happy days of Plath and Hughes

Ted Hughes and Sylvia Hughes
Ted Hughes and Sylvia Hughes

Their separation was notoriously acrimonious, but an auction of personal possessions belonging to Ted Hughes and Sylvia Hughes will celebrate the couple’s happier times.

The collection is being sold at Bonhams by the pair’s daughter Frieda Hughes and includes Plath’s own copy of her only novel The Bell Jar. Published in January 1963, just two months before her death, the book is expected to fetch up to £80,000.

Widely regarded as two of the greatest poets of the 20th century, among the other poignant lots is a copy of the first American edition of Mytholmroyd-born Hughes’ collection The Hawk in the Rain. It bears an inscription to Plath which reads: “because the book belongs to you just as surely as all my love does”.

The couple married in 1956 after a four-month whirlwind romance, but separated six years later and previously unseen letters published last year laid bare the bitter aftermath of the split.

Bonhams senior book specialist Luke Batterham said: “This fascinating collection provides a riveting insight into the warmth and mutual support of the Hughes-Plath creative relationship, especially in the early years of their marriage.

“The deeply personal inscriptions to Plath in first editions of Hughes’ breakthrough works The Hawk in the Rain and its successor Lupercal show how much he appreciated his wife’s help.

“A tender and important pen and ink drawing of Hughes by Plath, drawn when the couple were on honeymoon in Spain, was commemorated in Hughes’ last work Birthday Letters and we expect it to make £30,000.”

The sale will take place on March 21.