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
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!
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 […]
DAFFODILS – A poisonous flower, a harbinger of Spring, a Poet’s Muse? Below are two takes on these flowers, from Ted Hughes, where they symbolise his lost love, to Helen O’Neill, who has written a Biography of the Daffodil. Daffodils We piled their frailty lights on a carpenter’s bench, Distributed leaves among the dozens – Buckling blade-leaves, limber, groping for […]
Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath In his his introduction to ‘Poetry in the Making’, the then Poet Laureate of Britain had the following words of advice for those of us whose passion is Writing, be it poetry, prose, fiction, non-fiction, or something in between: Do you relate to these words? ‘You write interestingly only about the things that genuinely interest you. This is an infallible rule.. in writing, you have to be able to distinguish between those things about which you are merely curious –things you heard about last week or read about yesterday- and things which are a deep part of your life… So you say, ‘What part of my life would I die to be separated from?’ –Ted Hughes, Poetry in the Making ‘It is occasionally possible, just for brief moments, to find the words that will unlock the doors of all those many mansions in the head and express something – perhaps not much, just something – of the crush of information that presses in on us from the way a crow flies over and the way a man walks and the look of a street and from what we did one day a dozen years ago. Words that will express something of the deep complexity that makes us precisely the way we are.’-Ted Hughes Dina Davis Convenor Randwick Writers’ Group 📚 0418 115748
Few people know that Assia Gutmann Wevill was an accomplished artist in her own right. She painted brightly coloured miniatures of birds, fish, and flowers, and gave them to friends. She also drew the illustrations for many of Ted Hughes’s works. Sadly these have not survived As well as her talents in the visual arts, Assia was a gifted translator. […]
Written out of history theguardian.comOctober 18 Assia Wevill in 1968 Within a period of six years, Ted Hughes faced the sudden deaths of four people dear to him. In February 1963 his estranged wife, Sylvia Plath, gassed herself in her kitchen following his affair with another woman, Assia Wevill. He was just 32 when he found himself in sole charge of their children, Frieda, who was three, and Nicholas, barely one year old. Six years later, in March 1969, Wevill killed herself and Shura, their four-year-old daughter. At that time, his mother Edith appeared to be getting on well after an operation on her knee, but Hughes was afraid that the news might affect her recovery. In the following weeks he shunned his parents, and did not visit, phone or write to them. When his father asked Olwyn, Hughes’s sister, what the matter was, she told him but made him vow to keep it a secret. But he could not keep silent and told his wife. Edith suffered a thrombosis, lapsed into a coma and died three days later. Ted was certain that Wevill’s suicide was the final blow. In a letter to his close friend Lucas Myers, Hughes reflected on his part in the deaths of his wife and lover, confessing that with Plath it was his “insane decisions”, while in Wevill’s case it was his “insane indecisions”. When he granted us a rare interview in London in […]
Assia Gutmann Wevill, the subject of my novel, Capriccio: the Haunting of Sylvia Plath What do readers look for from historical or biographical fiction? Is it the ‘truth’ in the form of accurately researched facts, or are they seeking a deeper truth behind those facts? There are facts a-plenty in ‘Capriccio’, the result of ten years’ extensive research of the characters’ lives and works.However, I have dug deeper into the realm of possibilities to create a story which, although largely following known truths, adds drama and colour to the lives of these real people. The question of truth in fiction has been constantly in my mind throughout this novel’s long gestation. I first heard of Assia Wevill in the year 2000, when a newspaper article ‘Haunted by the Ghosts of Love’ came to my notice. It was written by Assia’s biographers, Eilat Negev and Yehuda Koren. Something about Assia’s story resonated with me, and for the next few years I read and researched everything I could about her role in the famous story of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. When Negev and Koren’s biography, ‘Lover of Unreason’, came out in 2006, I was at first devastated to know that others had got there before me, and abandoned all thought of writing my own book about Assia. Then I realised that what I wanted to write was not a ‘straight’ biography, but a re-creation of the lives of Assia, Ted and Sylvia during […]