Headstone Returned To Plath Grave

from: The Associated Press - April 23, 1989

The stone has been returned to the grave of Sylvia Plath, restoring the married name that vandals-- perhaps her admirers-- have repeatedly tried to erase.

On Saturday, Poet Laureate Ted Hughes struck back at recent criticism of his custody of the grave and of the legacy of his wife, the tormented American poet who killed herself Feb. 11, 1963.

"When I first had the lettering set into the stone . . . the only question in my mind was how to get the name Plath on to it," Hughes said in a letter printed in Saturday's edition of The Independent. Plath, born in Boston, was posthumously honored with the Pulitzer Prize in 1982. She was estranged from Hughes when she died at age 30. He said her married name, set in riveted lead letters, was chiseled off the tombstone three times.

After a fourth attempt, he had the stone removed and was contemplating a new design. However, he said, he found the stone had been repaired last year by the engraver who was keeping it and he agreed to have it restored to its place near the Church of St. Thomas the Apostle in the village of Heptonstall.

The controversy was stirred up earlier this month when Julia Parnaby of the University of Lancaster and Rachel Wingfield of the University of Cambridge wrote to The Guardian newspaper complaining about the lack of a grave marker.

"By failing to replace the headstone and thus leaving Plath's grave unidentifiable, her place in the tradition of women's literature is being denied and her work devalued," they wrote.

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