As a young woman, I found Plath's life to be deeply tragic and puzzling. As Plath followers know, she attempted suicide twice and succeeded the second time...by turning the gas on while her children slept peacefully next door. (She carefully stuffed towels under the door so they would be safe.) A brilliant poet, she was in the prime of her career, but she was deeply depressed and jealous because of her husband's affair.
Apparently little Nicholas, just a baby at the time of her death, was not told about the circumstances of his mother's death until the 1970s. He too struggled with depression, and although he became a highly esteemed fish biologist, last month he too succumbed to deep depression and took his own life.
Sylvia Plath with children Frieda and Nicholas
I cannot imagine what it must feel like to grow up as a child knowing that your parent committed suicide. I was prompted to blog about this when I came across two articles written by other children of parents who had killed themselves: one by Linda Gray Sexton, the daughter of poet Anne Sexton, and the other by Jeremy Gavron, whose mother killed herself 2 years after Plath did.
Frieda and Nicholas as adults
Rest in peace, Dr. Hughes.