Do we kill ourselves because of an involuntary dedication to the cause found in our DNA?  If you look at the sad and sorry life of Nicholas Hughes, you begin to ponder the undeniable mandate of predestiny.

Nicholas Hughes was the misbegotten son of poets Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. 

On March 16, childless and unmarried, Nicolas, following in his mother’s footfalls, killed himself.  Sylvia used a gas oven when he was a baby to finish her end.  Nicholas found his finality hanging from the end of a rope.

Was Nicholas intended to die by his own hand from his birth?
Or was his father the center of despair that others used to loose their spirit into the netherworld?

Hughes was only 9 months old when his parents separated and was still an infant when his mother died in February 1963, gassing herself in a London flat as her children slept. A few months earlier, she had written of Nicholas: “You are the one/Solid the spaces lean on, envious/You are the baby in the barn.”

Not widely known when she died, Plath became a cult figure through the novel “The Bell Jar,” which told of a suicidal young woman, and through the prophetic “Ariel” poems — “I shall never grow old,” she wrote — she had been working on near the end of her life.

The immediate cause of her breakup with Hughes was his affair with Assia Wevill. Plath’s legacy haunted her husband, hounded for years by women who believed he was responsible for her suicide and by a procession of biographers and fans obsessed with the brief, impassioned and tragic marriage between the two poets.

Ted Hughes relived the tragedy not only through the constant reminders of Plath, but also through the suicide of Wevill, his second wife, who in March 1969 killed herself and their 4-year-old daughter.

We are required to wonder about Nicholas Hughes’ death and ask if his fate was sealed in the stars, or held between his fingers, or condemned by his father’s pen?


  1. I just looked over his cv. So brilliant and so tragic to have lost him.

  2. That’s right, Gordon. It seemed he was able to escape his destiny. Until he couldn’t. It makes one wonder if death is always so easy and convenient. People were watching and waiting for the moment of his suicide to close the circle of killing in his DNA — and he provided the dramatic end they were wishing upon.

  3. That’s a horror story if I ever heard one. Classic tragedy with no escape. Nobody gets out alive.

  4. Quite a tragedy, Anne. It makes one wonder about “decomposing DNA” where the infant is so tainted by the mother’s pain that there is no chance at living a long and satisfied life unless you join her in the grave.

  5. I read somewhere that suicidal tendency is genetic, its very hard to escape unless one is veru cautious – Nicholas finally couldn’t escape – as I see it…

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