(Thank you very much to Helen Ellis for sending this to me-I loved reading it!)
(First-a note about the controversy that this biography has caused: the estate of Ted Hughes was at various times described as ‘squaring up’ about the book. I’m not able to cast judgement about this: you can find various opinion pieces about that. Therefore, this review will be objective-and *hopefully* not take any sides)
Ted Hughes-unlike his wife-hasn’t previously had a biography written in as much depth about himself. (I’ve since lost count of how many Plath has garnered.) This is the work of five years, with Sir Jonathan Bate having had access to Hughes’ archives; it creates a very full picture.
For an amateur Plath scholar, it’s vivid, and has various revelations:
- I didn’t know that the film version of ‘The Bell Jar’ was bought to court, over a depiction of one character; googling came across various articles.
- Ted Hughes was found to have kept a Journal.
- And some I wish not to re-print here, because anyone can read the book..
And it has one element that Plath biographies sometimes leave out of their narrative; the aftermath, such as with Ariel, publication of her letters, critical reception..
It just could be a little more accessible to readers-without the various literary analogies, for instance, because it makes for quite an uphill slog. But then again, it could be argued that’s needed, to put it further into context. I still think he should write Plath’s biography as a follow-up..
What do you think; will you be reading? Let me know in the comments!