Autograph Letter Signed, to Ted Hughes

PLATH, Sylvia

It is simply a sin not to live with you

PLATH, Sylvia Autograph Letter Signed, to Ted Hughes

1956.

An exceptionally emotionally charged letter from Sylvia Plath to Ted Hughes, on being unable to live without him and begging a return to living together. Six sides of blue letter paper (three sheets, folded horizontally, approximately 950 words) signed "love and more love - sylvia" and later, "your own sylvia". Plath writes to Ted in a state of despair at being apart from him "in spite of all my spasmodic calm & resolve I feel horrid & very black & wicked. it is simply a sin not to live with you. I could cry." The first part of the letter is an exposition of her loneliness and inability to work, "The constant, deep - (so deep it is forming into vivid terrible nightmares) sense of terror, lack, superstition (symbolised by that traumatic last meeting in London which almost drove me wild)". Ted's permanent presence in Cambridge would be her solution, "I can probe & root most deeply & well when planted every minute in the rich, almost unconscious feeling of your presence". Her desperation grows and she tries to convince Ted to make the move in spite of the fact that, "you hate cambridge & wouldn't want to come here again, I know". The other obstacle, would be College and scholarship authorities who might object to the marriage, "even now some opportunistic devil in me is arguing our case". The upside, however, would be worth it, "I could then combine love & writing & study much better then splitting them this abnormal way - wasting time when away from you in wishing you were here & wasting time with you by cursing the swiftness of that time & dreading fresh separation". All of this, she says in her final plea, "pales before the fact that I am rightfully sylvia hughes & I feel sad, sick & disinherited. my first purpose is not just a wedding - it is you; I am married to you & would work & write best in living with you. I waste so much strength in simply fighting my tears for you - please understand about this & help me work it out". She then signs, "love & more love - sylvia", before adding a two page postscript. Here Plath turns to the practical side of the potential move, "...the one difficult act would be telling newnham (there are married students here, though few; & dr. Krook, I'm sure, would back me up) & the fulbright (they also have many married students, though mostly male) & getting a place to live & moving me". But she is convinced that it would work out, and be worth it, "all is as nothing without you, without constantly expressing my love for you". She resolves that she would first seek out Dr Krook's advice, before speaking to Newnham and Fulbright, and hopes that Ted's hate of Cambridge might be overcome by living in Granchester, "you could write, teach part time & go to London for occasional BBC broadcasts". She signs, for the second time, "I love you so - your own Sylvia". Smudges to the ink in a number of places, likely teardrops.

This extraordinary letter marks the end of Plath's third week back in Cambridge, and the culmination of unbearable separation, growing bouts of depression and a crisis of identity.
Being apart from Ted had been affecting her work, creative and academic, as well as her mental state, which is characterised here as a "constant, deep sense of terror".
The secondary effect of being apart from Ted is on Plath's identity. Living alone in Cambridge she was unable to admit her marriage, for fear that her college might expel her and her scholarship might be cancelled. Moreover, if she did announce their marriage now, the gala wedding ceremony planned for America the next summer would have to be cancelled, and they would be deprived of the wedding presents they needed to begin their life together. The result of this was that she was forced to live a lie, "I am rightfully sylvia hughes & I feel sad, sick & disinherited."

PROVENANCE: Ted Hughes (1930 - 1998); Frieda Hughes (Hughes and Plath's daughter).

Stock ID: 41600

£60,000.00

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