Sylvia Plath’s and Ted Hughes’s Wedding Rings, Love Letters, and Personal Effects Are Open for Bidding at Sotheby’s

The rare and very affordable items were consigned by Plath’s first child with Hughes, Frieda. 

A photograph of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. Courtesy of Sotheby's.
A photograph of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. Courtesy of Sotheby's.

A collection of items that belonged to the American writer Sylvia Plath, including personal photos, letters, and drawings, is on sale now in a dedicated, 55-lot online auction hosted by Sotheby’s London.

Bidding for “Your Own Sylvia” opened today and will conclude on July 21. Frieda Hughes, Plath’s first child with husband and fellow poet Ted Hughes, consigned the surprisingly affordable objects, with many estimates coming in below $1,700. (None carry a guarantee, according to a representative from the auction house.)

Among the highlights are an annotated photo album containing pictures of Plath’s and Hughes’s travels across England and America between 1957 and 1962, including shots of the couple with T. S. Eliot and W. H. Auden, which are estimated to go for £30,000 to £50,000 ($42,000 to $69,000), and 16 letters Plath wrote to Hughes in the fall of 1956, the only surviving correspondence between the two. The writings are estimated to fetch between £8,000 and £20,000 ($11,000 to $28,000) each. 

“I can’t believe anybody ever loved like this; nobody will again,” Plath wrote to her new husband in a letter dated October 10, 1956. “We will burn love to death all our long lives… .”  

Letters to Ted Hughes from Sylvia Plath, photographed with the couple's wedding rings. Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Letters to Ted Hughes from Sylvia Plath, photographed with the couple’s wedding rings. Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

“This auction is really about the happiest and the most dynamic part of my parent’s relationship when they were working at their best together and still very passionately in love and supportive of each other,” Frieda Hughes said in a statement.

“I would like to think that this auction will enable these items to go on and continue to have a life beyond me with somebody who will really treasure them.”

Other lots include the couple’s wedding rings (estimated at £6,000 to £8,000), an Egyptian figurine Hughes gifted to Plath on their honeymoon (£800 to £1,200), and a cache of recipes typed up by Plath and others in her family (£800 to £1,200).

Gabriel Heaton, Sotheby’s English literature and historical manuscripts specialist, said that each item in the sale “allows us to better understand the personal life” of Plath.

“The letters in particular,” he added, “offer insight into her passionate love for her husband, Ted Hughes, her fanatical dedication to her writing, as well as her aspirations and hopes for the future.”

See more items included in “Your Own Sylvia” below.

A photo album compiled and annotated by Sylvia Plath. Courtesy of Sotheby's.

A photo album compiled and annotated by Sylvia Plath. Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Sylvia Plath with Frieda Hughes, from a collection of 39 family photographs, annotated by her 1960-62. Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Sylvia Plath with Frieda Hughes, from a collection of 39 family photographs, annotated by her 1960-62.
Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

A letter Sylvia Plath wrote to Edith & WIlliam Hughes. Courtesy of Sotheby's.

A letter Sylvia Plath wrote to Edith & WIlliam Hughes. Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes's wedding rings. Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes’s wedding rings. Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

An Egyptian-style glazed amulet Ted Hughes gave to Sylvia Plath on their honeymoon. Courtesy of Sotheby's.

An Egyptian-style glazed amulet Ted Hughes gave to Sylvia Plath on their honeymoon. Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

A portrait of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes in 1961, taken by David Bailey. Courtesy of Sotheby's.

A portrait of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes in 1961, taken by David Bailey. Courtesy of Sotheby’s.


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