Sylvia Plath's collection and love letters to Ted Hughes sell for £777,610 at auction

A collection of letters and personal items belonging to Sylvia Plath – including passionate notes written to husband Ted Hughes – have been auctioned for £777,610.

Tuesday, 27th July 2021, 12:18 pm
Pictures supplied by Sotheby's showing some of the items that will be going under the hammer at their auction

A total of 50 lots, which came from the collection of the American poet’s daughter Frieda Hughes, were sold by auction house Sotheby’s in London.

Passionate personal letters written by the famed American poet to her Mytholmroyd-born husband went under the the hammer for the first time.

The collection included 16 letters from Plath to Hughes, which sold for a total of £309,200. Their wedding rings sold for £27,720, while a sketch of Hughes went for £31,420.

Speaking before the auction, Sylvia’s daughter, Frieda Hughes. said the auction was really about the happiest and the most dynamic part of her parent’s relationship when they were working at their best together and still very passionately in love and supportive of each other.

"I would like to think that this auction will enable these items to go on and continue to have a life beyond me with somebody who will really treasure them," she said.

“I am very conscious that one day, after I am gone, nobody will know the origin of anything in my ownership.

“So, with this sale, I am reassured to know that the people who acquire these items will always attach them to their origins, and care for them because of their history.”

Ted Hughes, who was born in Mytholmroyd and schooled in Mexborough, was appointed Poet Laureate in 1984 and held the position until his death in 1998.

He was to make his name as one of the finest poets and writers of his generation, with the University of Huddersfield, home to the Ted Hughes Network, now a major centre for the study of his life.

An 18th century home he once owned, Lumb Bank, is also now a writers’ retreat.

To this day, the couple are often remembered for their tempestuous marriage, with Plath, author of The Bell Jar, taking her own life in 1963 at the age of 30.

The writer, who is also now recognised as one of the most important poets of the 20th century, is buried in the small Calderdale village of Heptonstall.