This is an abridged version of the article by Eilat Negev, which inspired me to write the story of Assia Gutmann Wevill as a work of fiction.
AUTHOR TALK: Dina Davis with Susannah Fullerton. Review by Susan Beinart On 3 February 2019, Waverley Library Theatrette resounded with the voices of Dina Davis in conversation with Susannah Fullerton, at the Sydney launch of Dina’s début work, Capriccio: A Novel. This novel was inspired by the lives of Assia Wevill, Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. This roman à clef covers the love-triangle that played out between these three poets, highlighting, for the first time, Wevill’s role in this fascinating tale. Fullerton, well known at Library events for her deep knowledge of Jane Austen and other historical writers, asked Davis probing questions about Capriccio: A Novel. Davis answered Fullerton’s questions with passion and honesty. The conversation flowed and the audience was riveted. We learned much about Capriccio: A Novel, including that Davis wrote it with commitment, partly because she felt passionate about the single-mother plight of Wevill, who had, apart from a biography, thus far escaped literary interest. No longer. This fine novel will surely provoke more interest in Wevill, who is known as ‘Esther’ in the book. Names of all the protagonists were changed at the request of the Hughes Estate. PAGE 2 Adapted from Friends of the Waverley Library Newsletter, SPRING 2019
The following is an excerpt frm my short story which was a finalist in the 2018 NT Literary Awards: EDGE by Dina Davis Rubbing her hands together, desperate for warmth, the young mother dragged a blanket from the empty cot nearby, to drape over her shoulders. Her two children were still sleeping in this hour before dawn. It took a […]
I am excited to announce the forthcoming publication of my work of fiction, ‘Capriccio: a Novel’. To honour the occasion I will be seting up a new website where I will post background information on the real story behind the book. My brand new Website “CAPRICCIOTHE NOVEL” is coming soon! Here you can read articles and see photos of the real story behind “Capriccio: A Novel”, soon to be published by Cilento Press. I took the title of my novel from a series of poems by Ted Hughes, which were written about his relationship with Assia Gutmann Wevill. My book tells the story of their love affair, from the viewpoint of the woman who came between Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. Apart from one biography, ‘Lover of Unreason” by Eilat Negev and Yehuda Koren, Assia herself has been written out of history, or else maligned by the brief mentions she gets in many of the reference books about this famous love triangle. My novel aims to redress the balance, and to restore Assia to her proper place in literary history. WATCH THIS SPACE FOR COVER PHOTO, BLURB, AND MORE DETAILS COMNG SOON!
The following extract from my novel ‘Capriccio’ is a fictional recreation of the last day of Sylvia Plath’s life. In this version I haven’t named her, partly to comply with a request from the Hughes estate, and partly to see if it works. What do you think, Dear Readers? Does it work? The moon has nothing to be sad about, Staring from her hood of bone. She is used to this sort of thing. Her blacks crackle and drag. – from ‘Edge’ by S.Plath EDGE Rubbing her hands together, desperate for warmth, the young mother dragged a blanket from the empty cot nearby, to drape over her shoulders. Her two children were still sleeping in this hour before dawn. It took a supreme effort of will to shuffle to the little table under the bedroom window that served as a desk. She opened her journal with stiff aching fingers, and reached for her fountain pen The water’s frozen in the pipes, and the blood’s frozen in my veins. My hands are stiff and blue with cold as I write this. It’s the worst winter London has known in over thirty years. Thirty years; my age last birthday and what have I to show for it? A failed marriage, a few poems, and a mediocre novel. At least I didn’t publish it under my own name. Mother would be mortified if she knew that monster was […]
The Joys and Perils of the Writing Life So here I am, as Abraham said to the Lord when offering up his son for sacrifice. “Here I Am” is the title of a wonderful new book by Jonathan Safran Foer, a monumental work close to 1000 pages, exploring themes of cultural identity, fidelity and betrayal, the ephemeral nature of love, families functional and dysfunctional, and what makes them so. As for me myself and I, this post is in the nature of an apology to you, my readers, for my untoward absence. SInce I last posted back in April, life has overtaken me. There’s been illness, convalescence, slow recovery, as well as the joys of grandchildrens’ birthdays. and celebrations of their achievements, some sojourns in beautiful Darwin, home of my daughters and grandsons, and the minutiae of everyday life. On the writing side, I’ve been hard at work on my new novel, ‘A Difficult Daughter’, and preparing my first novel. ‘Capriccio’, for publication. This entailed a major rewrite, mostly in appeasement to Faber and Faber, publishers of the works of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath, and the Hughes Estate. Like Jonathan Bate, I fell foul of the Estate when requesting permission to quote thirteen lines of Hughes’s poetry, fully expecting dispensation for such a small amount of material. The lines I quoted were used to introduce chapters, each of which was given the title of one of the ‘Capriccio’ poems […]
I’ve had the privilege recently of attending a course on the ancient texts of the Kabbalah, presented by Rabbi Dr. Orna Triguboff. These mystical teachings have long been a fascination of mine, particularly after I discovered, while researching my novel ‘Capriccio’, about the poet Ted Hughes, that he drew inspiration and poetic imagery from the texts of Kabbalah. Our talks with Rabbi […]
This review by Mark Ford of ‘Ted Hughes: the Unauthorised Life’ by Jonathan Bates, gives an interesting slant on Bate’s book, and echoes much of the portrayal of Hughes’s remorse in my novel: ‘Capriccio: the Haunting of Sylvia Plath.‘ In March 1969 Assia gassed both herself and her four-year-old daughter by Hughes, Shura, in her flat in Clapham. She had grown tired of sharing Hughes with his two women down in Devon, Brenda Hedden (a social worker) and Carol Orchard, a local farmer’s daughter and nurse, who would become his second wife. Hughes did, on occasion, explicitly question the implications of his … behaviour in his private journal, noting, for instance, of this particular erotic triangle: ‘3 beautiful women – all in love, and a separate life of joy visible with each, all possessed – but own soul lost.’ The sorrows of the polygamist … As the errant poet struggled to manage his handily alphabetised commitments to A, B and C, as he referred to them in his journal, Assia battled with the complexities of the situation in which she found herself after Plath’s suicide. Although less jealous and possessive than Plath, Assia had her own moments of despair and fury: in a will she made in April 1968 she left to Hughes only ‘my no doubt welcome absence and my bitter contempt.’ Hughes’s ‘The Error’, from the suite of Assia poems collected in Capriccio (1990), presents her subsequent death as almost […]
Assia Wevill, born Assia Esther Gutmann, would have been 89 years old today, had she not taken her own life and that of her daughter Shura in March 1969. She was 41 when she died: 41 years, reflected in the 41 chapters in my novel, ‘Capriccio’, which endeavours to honour her short life. Who was the real Assia? Was […]
What do you think Sylvia might have written in that last letter? Sylvia Plath’s last days have been well documented, again and again giving us the same facts in the various non-fiction biographies. We know she wrote a letter just before she died, and asked her downstairs neighbour for stamps.. The letter, if it was found, has never been disclosed. […]