Sylvia Plath’s belongings sold for $551,862 at auction, collectively earning more than two times those of her husband’s, poet Ted Hughes, according to the New York Times. Among the artifacts snatched up by eager buyers were a signed pre-publication copy of The Bell Jar, purchased by an anonymous buyer for $124,150. Clothes, jewelry, and the Hermès typewriter she used to write The Bell Jar were among the other items being sold.
Plath’s typewriter sold for $46,071; Hughes’s sold for just $4,977.
While the powerhouse literary couple’s marital turmoil in the years before Plath’s 1963 suicide was not news, people were shocked by allegations of Hughes’s domestic abuse when a trove of unpublished letters from Plath to her psychiatrist surfaced last year. In the correspondence, Plath details a beating two days before she miscarried their second child in 1961. In another letter, Plath wrote of Hughes telling her he wished she were dead.
Following her death, Hughes also destroyed the last volume of her many journals, leaving a hole in the story of her final months.
The items were placed for auction in March at Bonhams in London by their daughter Frieda Hughes, now 58, who also lost her little brother Nicholas to suicide in 2009.