Assia Wevill was Sylvia Plath’s polar opposite: raven-haired, magnetic, cosmopolitan–and, though multilingual and brilliantly well read, unambitious as a poet. But the women have one thing in common: Each killed herself when she was abandoned by Ted Hughes.
Born in 1927 Berlin, Assia Gutmann fled the Nazis with her Russian Jewish father and German mother to Tel Aviv, eventually marrying a British soldier. She was on her third husband, the poet David Wevill, by the time she met Ted and Sylvia, who were taken with the couple–especially Assia, a vibrant embodiment of the prewar European culture that so fascinated them. It was while the Wevills were visiting in Devon in May 1962, as Hughes later wrote that “the dreamer in me/fell in love with her”. When he was next in London, he left a note at the office where Assia worked as a copywriter: “I have come to see you, despite all marriages”. She responded with a blade of grass dipped in Dior perfume.
Lover of Unreason; Assia Wevill, Sylvia Plath’s Rival, and Ted Hughes’s Doomed Love
By Yehuda Koren and Eilat Negev
(Carroll & Graf)