First poems published by Plath's daughter

THE DAUGHTER of poet laureate Ted Hughes and the tortured, controversial genius Sylvia Plath, is to follow in her parents' footsteps by publishing her first volume of poems.

There is no doubt that Frieda Hughes has a hard act to follow. Her father is recognised as the outstanding talent of his generation, while the upbringing and motives of her mother, who took her own life in the early Sixties, have been picked over by dozens of biographers and critics.

But such a weighty literary pedigree has not silenced Ms Hughes, whose poems appear in a Faber anthology published tomorrow. She has refused to adopt a pseudonym and firmly resists comparisons: while she is intensely proud of her parents, she says, her own work will speak for itself.

Now in her late thirties, and recently returned from 10 years in Western Australia, Ms Hughes will bring out her own first collection with Bloodaxe early next year, dedicated 'For Daddy with love'. She has already written six books for children and is an acclaimed painter, with work currently on display at the Royal Commonwealth Society in London.

It has taken rather longer to summon the courage to submit her poems for publication, but they have already been accepted by the New Yorker and Paris Review. Ironically - considering the intense literary rivalry between her parents - she claims her two-year marriage to Hungarian painter Laszlo Lukacs has engendered a new confidence.

"I have been painting and writing since I was three." she says. "It is all I have ever wanted to do. My father encouraged me, but it was really up to me what I did. If I needed help he would be my most accurate and sensible critic. But it had to get to the point where I felt that I could no longer not show anybody.

"I am more comfortable with myself, and part of that had to be meeting Laszlo. I had to feel that he was confident and complete in his own right; I couldn't have married anybody who wasn't a superb artist."

The couple now work side by side in their London studio, where she produces vivid, brilliant and disturbing canvases covered in Van Gogh-like swirls depicting bush fires and Australian landscapes; his work is more Cubist in style.

By contrast, her parents' relationship was famously stormy. Plath recorded that when she first met Ted Hughes at a Cambridge party, she bit him on the cheek and drew blood. Hughes himself has refused to give interviews about the relationship, although his recently published Birthday Letters cast new light on its dynamics.

Ms Hughes, who looks strikingly similar to her mother, published her first children's book, Getting Rid of Edna, at the age of 26. She said: "I had only ever thought of writing fiction and poetry, but when I took my paintings to my first publisher, thinking they might give me a book jacket, she asked if I had ever thought of illustrating a book." Her stories were so good that she was commissioned to write more.

Only recently did she begin sending her poems to four critics - including her father and a friend, journalist Libby Purves - for feedback. "They were brutally honest and when it was good, they said so. When you are sitting there in your vacuum, writing away, you don't know what reaction it's going to have. It was important to have the right audience."

One poem, "Readers", published by Bloodaxe and read on Radio 4 just after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, deals with the industry of "ghouls" who have made a living out of dissecting Plath's every move.

"That was one of the first poems she showed me and it knocked me back on my heels," says Ms Purves. "It had such a strong streak of Sylvia Plath in it and yet I knew she hadn't read her mother's poems for most of her youth.

"I do associate her work very much with William Blake; I think she has that quality like nobody else has, and she is going to be one of the notable figures of our age."

Of her father's comments, Ms Hughes says: "He has been wonderful; he's terribly reticent, I would say. He would tell me when something was weak or something was strong, but he would not tell me what I should do. That would make it his, and that would be awful."

Lee Brackstone, who edited the Faber collection, says: "Her poems are packed with startling, very vivid and sometimes violent imagery. She's an incredibly intelligent poet; I think her poetry has been informed by both her father and mother, but she's very original, strange, and quite unsettling."

While it is tempting to liken her work to Plath's - she employs hyphenated words in a similar fashion, and, like her mother, writes of traumatic father-daughter relationships - she is clearly not afflicted by the mental anguish suffered by Plath. "I make an effort not to try and compare myself with my mother," she says. "I can't stop people making comparisons; the only thing I can do is stay true to myself.

"I am very, very proud of both my parents, I have to say that. It gives an awful lot to live up to. It could make me dumb, and it certainly has made me very cautious about what I do where my writing is concerned ... But I am a different person."

She adds: "I would like to get to 90 and know that I have been myself all along ... In life, you are given certain opportunities and handicaps and it's up to you how you use or abuse them. I hope that I have treated my heritage with some dignity."

t "First Pressings" is published by Faber at pounds 4.99. "Wooroloo" is published by HarperFlamingo in the US, and Bloodaxe in the UK, in February.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Arts and Entertainment
The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit director Peter Jackson with his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Receptionist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This law firm is seeking a happy, helpful and ...

The Jenrick Group: Production Supervisor

£26000 - £29000 per annum + Holidays & Pension: The Jenrick Group: Production ...

The Jenrick Group: Project Engineer

£33000 - £35000 per annum + Pension and holidays: The Jenrick Group: Project E...

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Technician

£35200 per annum + Pension and holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Engine...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'