Plath, whose haunting poems turned the demons of his trauma into some of the most haunting verses in modern English, committed suicide in 1963 at age 30 by sticking his head in a gas oven. Her young children slept on the floor, but she had sealed her room against gas. They were unharmed.
Plath and Hughes married in 1956 and their relationship was as tumultuous as it was passionate. Her letters to Hughes explore the agony of separation from him while studying at Cambridge.
“My flesh is colder than wet grass,” Plath wrote. “You know you have the most luscious curved lovely mouth and your eyes crinkle and you are all warm and smooth and elegantly muscular and long striding and my God, I go crazy when I allow myself to think of you?”
“Honey, you are the wildest and most lovable hunk of meat that walks. If little girls scream, it is only in a king of bacchic ecstasy; the police are jealous and want to condemn such exceptional Samsonian excellence.
The cards are on sale at Sotheby’s from July 9-21. The sale comprises 55 lots and comes directly from the collection of Sylvia’s daughter, Frieda Hughes.
The sale also includes a deck of Tarot cards that Hughes gave Plath for his birthday and a striking ink portrait drawn by Plath during the couple’s honeymoon in Benidorm.
Hughes died in 1998.