Love through the Pages: Writers Wooing Writers, with Mixed Results

Book, January-February 2003 | Go to article overview

Love through the Pages: Writers Wooing Writers, with Mixed Results


Literary liaisons don't always lead to inspired love letters and journal entries, as a few of the following couples would attest ...

Love Through the Pages

             Mary Shelley (1797-1851)      Sylvia Plath (1932-1963)
             & Percy Shelley (1792-1822)   & Ted Hughes (1930-1998)

High Point   Already-married poet Percy    Ted, manly English poet,
             Bysshe Shelley falls for      meets Sylvia, manic
             Mary, the 16-year-old         American poet, at a party.
             daughter of William Godwin,   He rips off her headband
             the creator of anarchist      and earrings. She bites
             philosophy, and feminist      him, drawing blood. Four
             author Mary Wollstonecraft.   months later they are
                                           married.

Low Point    Percy's wife, certain of      In 1962 Sylvia discovers
             his philandering, commits     that Ted is having an
             suicide. Months later, her    affair with Assia Welville,
             body washes up in a lake in   a friend to both poets. Ted
             Hyde Park. Mary and Percy     and Sylvia's marriage ends.
             promptly elope.

Outcome      In 1822, Percy is lost at     After the collapse of her
             sea off the Italian coast,    marriage, Sylvia writes
             and in July of that year      what will become Ariel.
             his body washes up on         In 1963, she gasses herself
             shore. Before Percy is        in her oven while her two
             cremated, his heart is        small children sleep
             removed and given first to    nearby. Six years later,
             a friend and then to Mary.    Assia kills herself and her
             Widowed at 25, Mary never     daughter by Ted in the same
             marries again. … 

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