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Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes rarities garner big bids in London auction

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Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes with one of their children.
(RM·Rollie McKenna / File)

Scores of items belonging to poets Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, including Plath’s typewriter and her copy of her novel “The Bell Jar,” were auctioned in London on Wednesday.

The star of the event was a first edition of “The Bell Jar” signed by Plath, which sold for just under $123,000, followed by Plath’s annotated, uncorrected proof copy of the novel, which went for $105,000.

For the record:
5:55 PM, Mar. 21, 2018 In an earlier version of this post, A.N. Devers was referred to by her first name, which she does not use professionally.

A light green Hermes 3000 typewriter owned by Plath fetched almost $46,000.

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Sylvia Plath's typewriter.
(Bonhams )
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Books, artworks, clothes and other items were sold by artist Frieda Hughes, the daughter of the late literary couple. The auction was conducted by London-based Bonhams.

Books that had belonged to Plath also attracted some high bids. Her copy of the King James Bible was sold for more than $12,000, while her copy of Roget’s Thesaurus was snapped up for just under $20,000.

Many of Plath’s personal effects were up for auction, including jewelry, clothing and furniture. A wallet containing her driver’s license and a Boston library card went for more than $12,000.

A.N. Devers, an American writer based in London who plans to open a rare bookshop focused on women’s writing, posted on Twitter that she successfully bid on items at the auction (it’s not clear if that includes this watch).

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Some of Hughes’ items were up for sale as well, including a first edition of his poetry collection “The Hawk in the Rain,” inscribed to Plath and autographed by Hughes, which sold for $40,000. A three-volume first-edition set of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” that Hughes gave to Plath as a gift brought in $14,000.

Plath and Hughes were married in 1956, and separated six years later. The year after their separation, Plath killed herself in her London apartment. Hughes, who went on to serve as poet laureate of Britain for 14 years, died of a heart attack in 1998.

The couple had two children, Frieda Hughes and Nicholas Hughes, a biologist who committed suicide in his Alaska home in 2009.


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