The other tragic woman in the life of Ted Hughes

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

She was the dark lady in the life and work of the poet Ted Hughes. And her eventual suicide in 1969 was almost a carbon copy of that of his first wife, Sylvia Plath, six years earlier - except that she also took the life of their four-year-old daughter.

But in the years since the death of Assia Wevill, the tragic story of her relationship with the late Poet Laureate, who died in 1998, has often been relegated to little more than a footnote to the saga of Hughes and Plath. A year after her death, Hughes dedicated his book Crow to the memory of Assia and Shura, their daughter, although few knew who they were.

Now, for the first time, the full story of the troubled life of Wevill and her eight-year relationship with Hughes, which contributed to the ending of his marriage to Plath, is to be told in a new book, A Lover of Unreason, by Yehuda Koren and Eilat Negev, two Israeli journalists who have spent 15 years researching her life.

The book, to be published by Robson Books in the autumn, is expected to make dramatic disclosures about the Hughes-Plath-Weevil affair and will be eagerly awaited by the literary establishment, which has long been fascinated by Hughes and his stormy relationships with women.

Jeremy Robson, the owner of Robson Books, who is also a poet who knew Hughes and met Wevill in the 1960s, said the book would give "a whole new slant to the story," adding: "There will be a lot of revelations." Hughes, he said, was "a powerful and mesmeric presence, hypnotic to women."

In "Dreamers", a poem in his last book, Birthday Letters, which documented his relationship with Plath, Hughes described meeting Wevill in 1961: "In flame-orange silks, in gold bracelets,/ Slighty filthy with erotic mystery -/ A German/Russian Israeli with the gaze of a demon / Between curtains of black Mongolian hair.''

The couple separated in 1968 and Wevill moved to Clapham, south London, while Hughes embarked on another affair. The following year, like Plath, she committed suicide after a quarrel with Hughes by gassing herself and Shura

Mr Robson said yesterday: "The whole thing was like a Greek tragedy."

Comments