‘Your story. My story’: confessional writing and the case of Birthday Letters

Gill, J. (2005) ‘Your story. My story’: confessional writing and the case of Birthday Letters. In: Gill, J. (ed.) Modern Confessional Writing: New Critical Essays. Routledge: London ; New York, pp. 67-83. ISBN 9780415339698 (doi: 10.4324/9780203449240-12)

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Publisher's URL: https://www.routledge.com/Modern-Confessional-Writing-New-Critical-Essays/Gill/p/book/9780415544146


Ted Hughes’s Birthday Letters was published unexpectedly in 1998.1 As surprising as the emergence of the collection was its markedly personal, even confessional, tone – a tone which Hughes had largely eschewed in his previous work. Here, it seemed, was Ted Hughes doing what nobody had thought he would ever do, telling what he had hitherto refused to tell, giving for the first and only time his ‘version’ (Alvarez 1999: 210) of his personal and literary relationship with his wife, Sylvia Plath. This was a story which had been told many times by other people on or beyond its peripheries but which, when told in the first person, acquired the apparent authority and authenticity of lived experience. Here at last, it seemed, was Ted Hughes’s ‘secret confession’.

Item Type:Book Sections
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Gill, Professor Jo
Authors: Gill, J.
College/School:College of Arts & Humanities
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