Monday, March 23, 2009

Nicholas Hughes, 1962-2009. R.I.P.

Nicholas Hughes, a former professor of marine biology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, committed suicide by hanging. He was 47 years old.

Hughes, however, is best known as the son of poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. His older sister, Frieda, is a poet in her own right.

Sylvia Plath committed suicide at the age of 30 in 1963 and is held in reverence to this day for her confessiona approach to poetry.

I did like this point of view put forth by Judith Flanders in The Guardian cautioning us from reading too much into Plath's poetry as a result of Hughes' death:

Poor Dr Hughes. His death is, no doubt, doomed to be swept into this vortex of gossip and sensationalism. Depression is hereditary, to a degree, and there is probably more influence from knowing of one's own mother's despair. But did he die of great poetry? Of course not. That is what Sylvia Plath should be remembered for, just as marine biologists will respect Dr Hughes's own work. Anything further is circulation fodder.

But of course, if not for his parents notoriety, neither Ms. Flanders nor I would likely have drawn our readers attention to Mr. Hughes passing at all.

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