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Nicholas Hughes

Son of poet Sylvia Plath

March 24, 2009|Times Staff and Wire Reports

Nicholas Hughes, 47, a fisheries biologist who was the son of poets Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, killed himself March 16 at his home in Fairbanks, Alaska, state police reported.

Hughes, who hanged himself, died 46 years after his mother committed suicide by gassing herself in the kitchen of her London home and nearly 40 years to the day after his stepmother, Assia Wevill, also killed herself.

Hughes graduated from the University of Oxford in 1984 and received a master's degree from Oxford in 1990. He immigrated to the United States and earned his doctorate at the University of Alaska. He spent more than a decade on the faculty of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks but left the school to concentrate on making pottery. He was unmarried and had no children.

His older sister, poet Frieda Hughes, issued a statement through the Times of London, expressing "profound sorrow" and saying her brother "had been battling depression for some time."

Nicholas Hughes was only 9 months old when his parents separated and still an infant when his mother died in February 1963. The immediate cause of the breakup was Hughes' affair with Wevill. Wevill gassed herself and their 4-year-old daughter in March 1969.

Ted Hughes died of cancer in 1998.

A few months before her death, Plath wrote of her son: "You are the one/Solid the spaces lean on, envious/You are the baby in the barn."

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news.obits@latimes.com

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