March 23, 2009 / 6:11 PM / 10 years ago

Son of poet Sylvia Plath commits suicide

LONDON (Reuters) - The son of the poets Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes has committed suicide 46 years after his mother gassed herself, his sister told a British newspaper on Monday.

Nicholas Hughes, 47, hanged himself at his home in Alaska, Frieda Hughes, who is also a poet, told The Times newspaper.

“It is with profound sorrow that I must announce the death of my brother, Nicholas Hughes, who died by his own hand on Monday, March 16 ... He had been battling depression for some time,” Hughes said in a statement to the newspaper.

Frieda Hughes, who was reported to be flying to Alaska, could not be reached for comment.

Nicholas Hughes, who was unmarried, had until recently been professor of fisheries and ocean sciences at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

Plath has been at the center of a literary cult since she committed suicide in 1963 at the age of 30 by gassing herself in the London flat while her children, one-year-old Nicholas and two-year-old Frieda, slept.

Plath, famous for her autobiographical novel “The Bell Jar” and the poetry collection “Ariel,” left bread and milk for the children and sealed their room against the gas. They were unharmed.

Critics blamed Ted Hughes for driving the American poet Plath to despair, and their relationship has been the source of public fascination fueled by a 2003 Hollywood movie starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Daniel Craig as the troubled couple.

Ted Hughes’ lover Assia Wevill also committed suicide in 1969, at the same time killing her young daughter from the relationship with the poet.

He was one of Britain’s most distinguished poets and was given the honor of being appointed poet laureate, but Plath’s suicide cast a shadow over him until his death in 1998.

Reporting by Adrian Croft; Editing by Phakamisa Ndzamela

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