Written by Abby Adamo
Sylvia Plath fans, rejoice! Or, faintly smile while ruminating on the ephemerality of life and the fruitlessness of the longing to become closer to an admired figure by achieving ownership of their material possessions—as I imagine your set is more likely to do. LitHub recently reported that a large selection of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes’ possessions, put together by their daughter, Frieda Hughes, were available at a UK auction held on March 21st. While the auction is now over, we can all hold out hope that these multi-thousand-dollar literary relics will once again enter the marketplace as soon as their owners grow tired of them or pass away themselves.
From manuscripts to typewriters to wallets, Frieda Hughes put together an assortment of belongings which she believes “represented important aspects of their literary lives and were evidence of their powerful partnership,” according to the auction website. Hughes’ goal in selling her parents’ effects is to “enable others to take on the preservation and enjoyment” of these significant literary artifacts. The auction attracted all sorts of literary fans, many of who also happened to have pretty deep pockets. The highest-selling item was Plath’s signed first edition copy of The Bell Jar, which sold for almost $123,000. Other books sold well too: her edition of the King James Bible went for $12,000 and her edition of Roget’s Thesaurus made a whopping $20,000. It’s not clear what motives all of these bidders had for buying such expensive pieces of memorabilia. The LA Times reports that one bidder was shopping because she “plans to open a rare bookshop focused on women’s writing.” Others may be buying on behalf of museums or to increase their own zillion-dollar collections, but they all act out of the same impulse to tie themselves to the celebrity of the object’s previous owner. Relic obsession is no new thing, which leads to the one greatest takeaway from this news story: the best way to insure for your child’s future is to start writing genre-shattering poetry and prose now.