Birthday Letters

Hughes, Ted

Book - 1998
Average Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5.
Birthday Letters
Love poems from a husband to a wife who committed suicide. The writer is poet laureate to Queen Elizabeth II. His wife, Sylvie Plath, who was also a poet, gassed herself in 1963 after writing, "Dying is an art, like everything else." The couple are still the subject of controversy in England, some claiming he drove her to it, others that she was an impossible wife.

Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus, Giroux, c1998
Edition: 1st Farrar, Straus, and Giroux ed
ISBN: 9780374525811
Branch Call Number: 821.9 H894b 1998
Characteristics: 197 p. ;,22 cm


From Library Staff

The poems in Birthday Letters are addressed (with just two exceptions) to Plath, and were written over a period of more than twenty-five years, the first a few years after her suicide in 1963. Some are love letters, others haunted recollections and ruminations. In them, Hughes recalls his and Pla... Read More »

Formerly Poet Laureate to Queen Elizabeth II, the late Ted Hughes (1930-98) is recognized as one of the few contemporary poets whose work has mythic scope and power. And few episodes in postwar literature have the legendary stature of Hughes's romance with, and marriage to, the great American poe... Read More »

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Oct 07, 2010
  • debwalker rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Hughes died in 1998, the same year Birthday Letters was published. The collection addressed his marriage to Plath, but did not specifically comment on her death.

Plath, a poet and novelist best known for The Bell Jar, killed herself in February 1963, shortly after separating from Hughes.

In October 2010, a new poem "Last Letter" has surfaced:

“What happened that night, your final night?”
“And I had started to write when the telephone

Jerked awake, in jabbering alarm,

Remembering everything. It recovered in my hand.

Then a voice like a selected weapon

Or a measured injection,

Coolly delivered its four words

Deep into my ear: ‘Your wife is dead.’”

It’s believed that the poem was written in the early ’70s.


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