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Ted Hughes

12 of 14 portraits of Ted Hughes

Ted Hughes

by Sylvia Plath
pen and ink, circa 1957
8 3/8 in. x 5 1/8 in. (213 mm x 130 mm)
Purchased with help from Mrs T.S. Eliot, The Art Fund, and Roy Davids, 2005
Primary Collection
NPG 6739


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  • Sylvia Plath (1932-1963), Poet and writer. Artist of 1 portrait, Sitter in 2 portraits.

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The only known drawing of Ted Hughes by his wife the writer Sylvia Plath, this evocative portrait was executed in pen and ink on a numbered sheet, presumably from one of the books used by Plath for her journal. It was made in about 1957, when Hughes began to gain critical recognition for his first collection of poems, Hawk in the Rain. It therefore depicts him at the moment of his emergence as a poet of the first rank, and in the year after Hughes's marriage to Plath. He preserved this image, having destroyed other personal paper belonging to their turbulent relationship which ended with Plath's suicide in 1963. Hughes later gave the drawing to Roy Davids, as documented by an inscription on the verso. The drawing may also therefore be seen as a vital document of an important and much debated literary relationship.

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