Is Top Lot At Bonhams Sale Of Plath-Hughes Collection

Fine Books and Manuscripts including Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes
The Property of Frieda Hughes
21 Mar 2018
London, Knightsbridge

Sylvia Plath's own signed, pre-publication copy of The Bell Jar was top lot at the Bonhams Fine Books and Manuscripts Sale today, 21 March, achieving £87,500. The sale, which included the Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes collection, realized a total of £1,572,325 with an impressive 87% sold by lot and 90% sold by value.

The book is inscribed and dated "Sylvia Plath/23 Fitzroy Road/London NW1/Christmas 1962". A second copy of the novel – an uncorrected proof - sold for £75,000. The typewriter on which she wrote The Bell Jar, her only published novel, sold for £32,500.

Works by Ted Hughes also performed well in the sale. The first American edition of The Hawk in the Rain bearing his inscription to Plath "because the book belongs to you just as surely as all my love does," sold for £28,750 after having been estimated at £10,000 – 15,000 and a first edition of Lupercal, an author's presentation copy also inscribed by Hughes to Plath realized £15,625.

Further highlights of the collection included:

- Sylvia Plath's Roget's thesaurus, with upwards of 1000 words underlined (£13,750)

- A first edition of Sylvia Plath's Ariel, a presentation copy from Ted Hughes to his Parents, inscribed 'To Mam & Dad with love Ted.' (£11,250)

- Autograph manuscripts of 23 bird poems in one volume, A Bundle of Birds, inscribed by Hughes 'to Olwyn' (£11,875)

Bonhams Head of Fine Books and Manuscripts, Matthew Haley, commented: 'This collection provides a unique insight into the depth of the Hughes-Plath creative relationship, especially in the early years of their marriage. The high prices achieved for lots such as Plath's personal copy of The Bell Jar and the books bearing intimate inscriptions between the pair are testament to the longstanding impact that both writers had on the world of literature.'


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest and most renowned auctioneers, offering fine art and antiques, motor cars and jewelry. The main salerooms are in London, New York, Los Angeles and Hong Kong, with auctions also held in Knightsbridge, Edinburgh, Paris, San Francisco and Sydney. With a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 22 countries, Bonhams offers advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full list of forthcoming auctions, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments, please visit

  1. Matthew Haley
    Montpelier Street
    London, United Kingdom SW7 1HH
    Work +44 20 7393 3817

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