March 24, 2009

Nicholas Hughes, R.I.P.

The sad news that Nicholas Hughes, son of Sylvia Plath, committed suicide 46 years after his mother gassed herself while he slept.

The effects of suicide ripple out

Dr Hughes’s parents split up before he was 1, his father leaving Plath for Assia Wevill, the exotic wife of another poet. The winter that followed was unrelentingly harsh. Struggling to get by on very little money as a single parent with two young children, Plath’s fragile mental state collapsed. She wrote many of her finest poems in a final burst of creativity and killed herself early one February morning.

Six years later Wevill, who had lived with Hughes and the children for much of the intervening period, also gassed herself. It was March 23, 1969 – 40 years ago today – and her death differed from Plath’s in one appalling respect: she had murdered four-year-old Shura in the process.

and down through the generations.

....but his life had also moved on. A family friend said last night: “Nick wasn’t just the baby son of Plath and Hughes and it would be wrong to think of him as some kind of inevitably tragic figure. He was a man who reached his mid-forties, an adventurous marine biologist with a distinguished academic career behind him and a host of friends and achievements in his own right. That is the man who is mourned by those who knew him.”

It appears Dr. Hughes was battling depression.  I would not be at all surprised if,  in his depression, he thought the only way out was the way shown by his mother and the woman who succeeded her.

Posted by Jill Fallon at March 24, 2009 11:39 PM | Permalink