PLATH (SYLVIA) The Bell Jar. By Victoria Lucas, FIRST EDITION, THE DEDICATEE'S COPY, Heinemann, [1963]; together with an autograph letter signed by Ted Hughes ("Ted") to "David & Elizabeth [Compton]", giving them permission to stay at Court Green, written from "23 Fitzroy Road, N.W.1", one page, in original envelope stamped 31 March 1963 (2)

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Lot 240
PLATH (SYLVIA)
The Bell Jar. By Victoria Lucas, FIRST EDITION, THE DEDICATEE'S COPY, Heinemann, [1963]; together with an autograph letter signed by Ted Hughes ("Ted") to "David & Elizabeth [Compton]", giving them permission to stay at Court Green, written from "23 Fitzroy Road, N.W.1", one page, in original envelope stamped 31 March 1963 (2)

Sold for £ 4,062 (US$ 4,911) inc. premium
[PLATH (SYLVIA)]
The Bell Jar. By Victoria Lucas, FIRST EDITION, THE DEDICATEE'S COPY, ownership inscription "E.J. Compton. 1963. N. Tawton" in black ink on front paste-down, occasional light spotting, publisher's cloth, dust-jacket (unclipped, worn with some loss to extremities and spine and corners) [Tabor A4a.1], 8vo, Heinemann, [1963]; together with an autograph letter signed by Ted Hughes ("Ted") to "David & Elizabeth [Compton]", giving them permission to stay at Court Green, written from "23 Fitzroy Road, N.W.1", one page, in original envelope stamped 31 March 1963 (2)

Footnotes

  • THE DEDICATEE ELIZABETH COMPTON'S COPY OF THE BELL JAR, given to her after Plath's death by Ted Hughes.

    'Elizabeth Compton and Sylvia Plath met in Devon in 1962 almost by chance after Plath and Ted Hughes's 1961 BBC radio interview "Two of a Kind: Poets in Partnership". As a result of that meeting, the two young women became immediate friends. Friends, indeed, with a bond so strong that within months Plath was to dedicate her novel, The Bell Jar, to Elizabeth and her then husband David Compton' (Peter K. Steinberg, Sylviaplathinfo website, 6 January 2018).

    Elizabeth recalled that Plath had written to her "and said 'if you want I'll dedicate The Bell Jar to you, but it will be in a funny place because my decision has come rather late – opposite chapter one. Is that OK?' Of course, I said yes. But I didn't read it until she was dead." (The Guardian, interview, 18 January 2013). After Plath's suicide at 23 Fitzroy Road, her London flat, Elizabeth visited Ted Hughes there, at which time he "gave her a copy of the Bell Jar, just published and dedicated to her, saying 'It doesn't fall to many men to murder a genius..."' (Jonathan Bate, Ted Hughes: The Unauthorised Life, 2015). Elizabeth's recollections of this period subsequently led to controversy, as did the decision to excise Plath's dedication to the Comptons when Faber republished The Bell Jar under Plath's own name in 1966, but Hughes' letter, included in this lot, written from Fitzroy Road, posted on 31 March 1963 and signed "Love Ted", indicates that at this time relations were still very friendly. Hughes writes that "It was nice to see you up here...", adding "... Certainly you can stay at Court Green if you want", discussing the practicality of getting the key and checking the plumbing, before remarking "I am putting the place up for sale. If you're there to show enquirers around, all the better...".

    Provenance: Elizabeth Sigmund, formerly Elizabeth Compton, co-dedicatee of The Bell Jar, ownership inscription on front paste-down, given to her by Ted Hughes; by descent to the present owner.
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