In this 1986 letter from our archive, Ted Hughes recounts the troubles he’s facing with a defamation case regarding a film adaptation of The Bell Jar, written by his late wife, Sylvia Plath.

Hughes, as the executor of Plath’s estate and the one who sold the film rights to the novel, was one of the parties sued and the only defendant to actually show up to the trial. Here he describes his “shunting between [England] and Boston” for the trial and his concern about how the ruling would affect “U.S. novel-writing.”

Though Hughes faced controversy regarding the film version of The Bell Jar, the book remained untouched by the legal proceedings and was still celebrated as a notable work of fiction, and Hughes, too, was able to return to his own creative projects, with the publication of Flowers and Insects (Faber & Faber, 1986) later that year.

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