Assia and Yehuda

Few people realise that Assia Gutmann Wevill was a poet in her own right, and also a talented translator. She spoke Hebrew, German, Arabic, Italian and English, and so was in demand as a translator. Her most acclaimed work was her translations from Hebrew to English of Israel’s major poet, Yehuda Amichai. Interesting to note…

The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Vol 2: The Real Story

The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Vol 2, 1956 – 1963, edited by Peter K. Steinberg and Karen K, Kulkil. Faber & Faber, 2018. This huge volume (well over 1000 words, and too heavy for me to lift)  contains heartrending, fiercely honest, falsely cheerful, and enlightening words from Sylvia to her mother, her brother, her friends,…

The Invisible Woman

 “The invisible woman: A Review of ‘Lover of Unreason’ by Eilat Negev and Yehuda Koren, by Peter Porter. Reprinted from The Guardian Oct 2006 The title of this all-encompassing biography of Assia Wevill, ‘Lover of Unreason’,  refers to Assia’s self-chosen epitaph, with she wanted engraved on her tombstone.  It perhaps reflects her descent into depression…

The Rocky Road to Publication

Fifteen years ago I came across a newspaper article called “Haunted by the Ghosts of Love”. It was the story of the woman who had come between two famous poets: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. Her name was Assia Gutmann Wevill. I had never heard of her. Assia’s story fascinated me, and I began to…

Ted Hughes, Assia, and the Kabbalah

  Kabbalah (Hebrew קַבָּלָה‎)  literally means “receiving/tradition”. It is an ancient series of spiritual teachings originating in the twelfth century BC, in the town of Safed in Palestine. Notes found in Ted Hughes’ loose leaf notebook in the British Library summarise the story of a Jewish Talmudist, Rabbah bar Hannah, who set down  his life story of…

Folktale: Excerpt from “Capriccio: a Novel”

it was a cat-and-mouse game between the lovers. In his poetry, TH referred to his mistress as ‘a magnificent leopard’ in his set of poems to her, called ‘Capriccio’. I’ve used this for the title of my novel. Each chapter refers to one of these 20 poems. The excerpt above is from an earlier draft of…