According to the Guardian, Sylvia Plath's son, Nicholas Hughes, 47, hung himself at his Alaskan home after years of dealing with depression. His mother the famous poet and novelist, Sylvia Plath committed suicide when her son was a baby. Plath is the author of The Bell Jar, a novel that is loosely based on her own life during the time that she was an intern at Mademoiselle, a fashion magazine in New York City. It was first published under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. The book depicts the magazine internship, the nervous breakdown and eventual hospitalisation of the main character, Esther.
Coming from a genetic background of mental illness myself, one wonders how much we pass on to our children and what was passed on to us. I can't say I haven't kept a keen eye open for the beast waiting for me around the corner, it's yet to appear in its full armor, thankfully. I feel inappropriately sad for Nicholas Hughes. I, of course, didn't know him, but somehow I feel an attachment, a sadness, as if a friend has died. I'm suddenly fearful too. Unexplainable really.
I pulled out my copy of The Bell Jar. Like most writers, Plath had glorious times of praise and awards and heart-wrenchingly, sad times when uncertainty ruled made worse by her unsteady mind. In 1970, Syliva Plath's mother, Aurelia Plath, wrote of her daughter's ideas behind The Bell Jar. She remembered her saying, " What I've done is to throw together events from my own life, fictionalising to add colour- it's a pot boiler really, but I think it will show how isolated a person feels when he is suffering a breakdown.... I've tried to picture my world and the people in it as seen though the distorting lens of a bell jar". Later she said, "To the person in the bell jar, blank and stopped as a dead baby, the world itself is the bad dream."