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Frieda Hughes: ‘I felt my parents were stolen’

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Frieda Hughes is a painter and poet. She is also the daughter of two giants of the literary world, Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, and didn’t read her parents’ poetry until her mid-30s

Frieda Hughes is thumbing through her first book of poetry, trying to find the poem she wrote about the poems her father, Ted Hughes, wrote about her mother, Sylvia Plath. “It’s called Birds. It describes the poet as a penguin, nursing the egg his wife has left him, and the skuas that kill and feed on baby penguins. I wrote it about my father and Birthday Letters [the collection of poems Hughes wrote in response to Plath’s suicide]. But when my father read it, he said he thought it was a poem about me. I look at it now and think he’s right.”

Her voice, as she reads the poem aloud, is deep and low; eerily resonant of the voice of her mother, who was recorded reading her Ariel poems a few months before her death. She gassed herself in an oven in the middle of the night, leaving out bread and milk as breakfast for the sleeping Frieda and her one-year-old brother.

In my ­experience, running away from sadness doesn't do anybody any good

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