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Introduction, Her Husband

DM on Sylvia, the movie

The career of the English poet Ted Hughes was shaped throughout his lifetime by his marriage to the American poet Sylvia Plath, which provided the cultural, the emotional, and the financial capital on which Hughes drew as an artist. Her Husband is a biography of that marriage- how they lived it, and how it survived in Hughes after Plath's suicide.

Her Husband: Hughes & Plath-a Marriage was published by Viking Press in October 2003. Here's a sampler of comments:

BBC4, “Front Row” DM interview with Mark Lawson, London 24 May 2004
http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/arts/frontrow/frontrow_20040524.shtml

OBSERVER, review by Jane Stevenson, London 6 June 2004
http://books.guardian.co.uk/reviews/poetry/0,6121,1233291,00.html

SALON.COM, interview with Kamy Wicoff, 12 November 2003
http://www.salon.com/sex/feature/2003/11/14/middlebrook/index.html

TED HUGHES WEBSITE, review of Her Husband
http://www.earth-moon.org/rev_middlebrook.html

"Joining the recent spate of books about Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath, all of which concern the sources of their poetry and their dysfunctional marriage, Middlebrook's is sure to be the gold standard. Astutely reasoned, fluidly written and developed with psychological acuity, the work is a sympathetically balanced assessment of two lives that flamed brightly with the incandescent fire of creative genius."
     Publisher's Weekly, August 10, 2003

"A wonderful new biography of Ted Hughes by Diane Middlebrook…brushes clean away the long-held perception of Plath as downtrodden wife in thrall to her oppressor."
     Vogue, October 2003

"In her fascinating new book … Middlebrook is a thorough and careful guide through this brief but endlessly intriguing marriage. Her knowledge of the poets' work, her ability to trace currents and themes, and her singular vision in synthesizing it all is downright mystifying."
     Boston Globe, October 8, 2003

"The journey that she takes us on exhilarates… it also makes us tremble."
     Los Angeles Times, October 12, 2003

"Unquestionably the best book written thus far on these complicated geniuses is Diane Middlebrook's. … she brings a compelling illumination of the poetry as well as the specifics of biography to her subject."
     Baltimore Sun, October 12, 2003

"Middlebrook is a sharp reader of poetry and prose, with a finely tuned ear for the call-and-response quality of Hughes' poetic dialogue with his dead artist-muse-wife. … Middlebrook's careful annotation of the intricate dance Plath and Hughes perform not only with each other but with the powerful images and ideas that, as artists, they work to shape makes Her Husband a compelling study of two great poets."
     Chicago Tribune, October 12, 2003

"The narrative of Her Husband cannot help but fascinate, providing new tidbits of information and insight to anyone who has followed the melodrama of the poets' relationship and the scholarly deconstruction of their art and their lives."
     New York Times, October 14, 2003

"Middlebrook, the author of a seminal biography of poet Anne Sexton, presents the most balanced, most literary and interpretatively astute, and best-written analysis yet of the saga of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes….discerning…deeply moving."
     Booklist, October 15, 2003

"Her Husband makes a convincing case that their work was even more compelling than their lives. For this couple, that's an accomplishment."
     Entertainment Weekly, October 17, 2003

"Her Husband paints a balanced portrait of the Plath-Hughes marriage as a deeply emotional, erotic union and an extraordinarily productive one.…by focusing on the lasting impact the marriage had on the creative life of Ted Hughes, this book ingeniously accesses Plath's posthumous legacy through the poetry of her husband."
     Minneapolis Star Tribune, October 19, 2003

"Middlebrook breaks gender ranks by writing a book that not only acquits Hughes of the most serious charges-'Depression killed Sylvia Plath,' Middlebrook pointedly writes-but goes on to argue that in certain ways, their marriage never ended. …She's immensely sympathetic to his masculine project… not that Middlebrook is a partisan of Hughes's, rather, she's a partisan of poetry."
     New York Magazine, October 20, 2003

"Middlebrook's excellent book is one sign we've come far enough for a balanced appraisal of the Plath-Hughes marriage. …Freed of the constraints of any legal wrangling, Middlebrook illuminates the marriage and the work… [and] also breaks news."
     Newsweek, October 20, 2003

"It was only after Hughes's death that their story could come to its natural resolution….With Middlebrook's wise and humane book, we can read and reappreciate the couple as they lived and died, and be grateful that their words will survive."
     New York Newsday, October 26, 2003

"Brilliantly captures the dark poetry of Sylvia Plath's married life. …Here is a book of mysteries, delicately revealed."
     O, November 2003

"Brilliant at making her subjects leap off the page."
     Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, November 2, 2003

"If there is a biographer who is capable of being fair to this loaded material, it is Middlebrook, whose biography of Anne Sexton ranks with the best literary biographies ever written. …Middlebrook conjures up a magnificently vivid picture of their domestic life when things were good. And when things were bad, she conjures an image of how the union of the personal and the poetic came apart - leaving only the poetic."
     Rocky Mountain News, November 7, 2003

"We are used to thinking of talent as a creative force… What's clear is that… Plath was finally consumed by the dark star she orbited. But…in death she eclipsed him."
     Time, December 1, 2003

"A deep, rich, and satisfying biography of a marriage- harrowing and ironic, playful and grave.
     Washington Post Book World, December 14, 2003

"Attentive and clear-eyed ... inspiring"
     New York Times Sunday Book Review, December 21, 2003


Contact Diane Middlebrook: dwm@stanford.edu
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