Son of poet Sylvia Plath commits suicide

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Monday, March 23, 2009

The son of poets Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes has committed suicide.

Nicholas Hughes hanged himself at his home in Fairbanks, Alaska on March 16, after a long battle with depression. Hughes was 47 at the time of his death.

Media outlets described the death as another in a long line of tragedy for the family.

Hughes was only one year old when his mother famously gassed herself to death in 1963, soon after her relationship with Ted Hughes ended. In 1969, Ted Hughes' mistress killed herself and their daughter in a copycat suicide.

The grave of poet Sylvia Plath, the mother of Nicholas Hughes who committed suicide on March 16.

Nicholas Hughes, who was not married and had no children, was an evolutionary ecologist who studied stream fish. He had been a professor of fisheries and ocean sciences at the University of Alaska Fairbanks until recently, when he he left the post to set up a pottery at home.

“His lifelong fascination with fish and fishing was a strong and shared bond with our father (many of whose poems were about the natural world)," his sister, Frieda Hughes, said in a statement given to the press.

"He was a loving brother, a loyal friend to those who knew him and, despite the vagaries that life threw at him, he maintained an almost childlike innocence and enthusiasm for the next project or plan," she said.

Near the end of her life, Sylvia Plath wrote poems about Nicholas Hughes, including one entitled "Nick and the Candlestick" from her collection, Ariel, which reads: “You are the one/ Solid the spaces lean on, envious./ You are the baby in the barn.”