Serendipity: the faculty of making happy and unexpected discoveries by accident. (Coined by Horace Walpole, 1754)
I finished reading an excellent biography of Sylvia Plath yesterday, Sylvia Plath by Linda W. Wagner-Martin. In it she tells of a visit by Sylvia and her husband Ted Hughes to Connemara, where they stayed with the poet Richard Murphy in his house in Cleggan; the visit was not a happy one, their marriage was in deep trouble by this stage.
Today I was having lunch in the sunshine in our garden and remembered Murphy’s own splendid memoir, The Kick and wondered if there was an index in it where I might learn more about the visit of the two famous poets to the small Irish fishing village. There was no index, but I leafed through it, looking for approximately the right year in the early sixties.
I found it and imagine my delight when I discovered a very detailed and impartial account of Sylvia and Ted’s few days in Cleggan, their visit on his boat to Inishboffin and how they reacted when he took them to visit Thoor Ballylee and Coole Park. Ted left Connemara a few days later without saying a word to their host and Sylvia left shortly afterwards, leaving a very relieved Richard Murphy behind her.
Last week I ordered a biography of Ted Hughes from Kenny’s, Ted Hughes: The Unauthorised Life and am looking forward immensely to the poetry and another account of the turbulent marriage of the very troubled Plath and of the source of much of her unhappiness, Ted Hughes, one of the great poets if the 20th century.