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The Boston Globe

Magazine

The last days of Sylvia Plath

Fifty years after her suicide, a new biography of the Boston-born poet--the first to draw on the recently opened Ted Hughes archives--reveals a period of absolute depression and stunning artistry.

JULY 9, 1962: Sylvia Plath raced to catch the phone call before Ted Hughes could intercept it. She recognized the woman asking for him, even though Assia Wevill lowered her voice, pretending, Sylvia thought, to be a man. She had been on edge ever since Assia and her husband’s May visit to their home; to Sylvia, the attraction between Ted and Assia had been palpable.

Sylvia clutched the phone, blanched, then turned it over to Ted. This was the moment her life sped up, the second her poetry erupted like a Greek necessity and became palpably autobiographical. In her poetry, she described her defilement as words pouring out of the phone like mud. Court Green, the Devon, England, home she had created as a haven for their family and their writing, now seemed polluted: “O god, how shall I ever clean the phone table?”

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