Autograph Letter Signed, to Edith and William Hughes

PLATH, Sylvia

in a kind of intuitive vision I saw that he could be a great poet

PLATH, Sylvia Autograph Letter Signed, to Edith and William Hughes

1956.

An exceptional letter from Sylvia Plath to Ted's parents following his winning of the Harper's poetry prize. Four sides of blue letter paper (two sheets, folded horizontally, approximately 700 words) signed "SYLVIA". Plath opens breathlessly, "Isn't he wonderful! You know, the telegram came Saturday, exactly a year after our first meeting at the St Botolph's party celebrating Ted's poems & I knew then - having read his poems even before I met him - in a kind of intuitive vision I saw he could be a great poet - like Yeats, or Dylan Thomas & probably better." Plath describes the standing of the judging panel, "the judges were not mealy-mouthed little poets (who I honestly believe are scared to publish Ted's work for fear his brilliance will eclipse their own piddling poems) - nor un-poet editors - but the 3 greatest living poets today!" The judges were W. H. Auden, Marianne Moore and Stephen Spender, "all brilliant people, big enough to recognize genius when they see it - & the genius is Ted!". She describes how they received the news, "the meaning of the news sank in & we began to jump up & down, roaring & skipping like Donkey in Ted's animal fables" both oblivious to "the little telegraph boy stood on the doorstep gaping at us-goggle-eyed". "The prestige and reputation of this" Plath explains "makes up for the fact that poetry books don't generally earn money. But of course, under the auspices of these grand judges, it may turn into a best seller". She shares the title of the book, taken from that of the opening poem, and describes with pride that "I typed it all up on special paper in November & it is over 50 pages long - very fine - most first poetry books are about only 30 pages." She shares her hope to get many of the poems published in magazines in advance of the book's publication, as well as their shared hope that "both of us can give up teaching & studying & devote all our time to writing." She signs, "lots of love to you both - SYLVIA".

A vivid record of the turning point in both Plath and Hughes's poetic careers, Ted's victory in the Harper's poetry contest and subsequent publication of The Hawk In The Rain.
The award was as much a testament to Sylvia's enterprise and creativity as Ted's - she discovered news of the competition, criticised drafts of the poems, did all of Ted's typing, and submitted his entry to the competition. It is no overstatement to remark that, without Plath's endeavour, The Hawk In The Rain may have never been published.
Her rightful part-ownership of the award, and her joy for Ted is also captured in a letter she sent her mother a few days before, "I am more happy than if it was my book published! I have worked so closely on these poems of Ted's and typed them so many countless times through revision after revision that I feel ecstatic about it all..." (24 February 1957).

PROVENANCE: William (1894-1981) and Edith Hughes (1898-1969); Ted Hughes (1930 - 1998); Frieda Hughes (Hughes and Plath's daughter).

Stock ID: 41602

£22,500.00

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