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Olwyn Hughes obituary

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Literary agent with a fearsome reputation who was devoted to the work of her brother, Ted Hughes, and the posthumous literary life of his wife Sylvia Plath

In a photograph of Ted Hughes from his youth, the poet is cradling a large mirror. It reflects his sister, Olwyn Hughes, holding a box camera: the combination of their images symbolises how, from the age of 35 until her death at the age of 87, she devoted herself to his service and then his memory.

Her life was changed by a letter she received in Paris in February 1963: “Dear Olwyn, On Monday morning, at about 6am, Sylvia gassed herself.” Later that year, she gave up the job and the city that she loved in order to help her younger brother bring up his children, three-year-old Frieda and one-year-old Nicholas, from his marriage to the poet Sylvia Plath. In Frieda’s earliest memories, the tall woman with the high thin nose and the often scolding manner was assumed to be a mother, not an aunt. During this period Olwyn translated a French novel, The Return by Michel Droit, which was published by Andre Deutsch.

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