An article on The Guardian today reminds me that in just under three weeks we’ll sadly be marking the 50th anniversary of Sylvia Plath’s death.
I will admit that it is not Sylvia’s powerful poetry that draws me to her, but rather my personal favourite, her fantastic autobiography Letters Home. This big epistolary volume covers her evolution from a young kid to ambitious and fragile university student and then to devoted writer, smitten with talented poet Ted Hughes. And finally, after the dream of love turned sour, the other Sylvia, the one fighting her demons to try and save her family through those dark last few months.
And then this small detail that always chokes me: when she gassed herself to death, Sylvia ensured the door to her children’s bedroom was completely blocked, thus guaranteeing their safety and keeping them alive. When Asia Wewill’s, Ted Hughes’ second wife, committed suicide herself, she took her four year old’s life, too.
It is tragic that Sylvia’s son succumbed to depression decades later. It is also unfair that her final act of desperation came to define so much of the life she embraced. She was enthusiastic about writing, art and travelling, had a sense of humour and a wonderful zest for life.