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Rebecca McCormick. Powered by Blogger.

Trip to Sylvia Plath's Grave

Sunday, November 17, 2019


Last month I was in Todmorden overnight with friends and on the Sunday we went to Hebden Bridge to look at all the lovely shops there. I had been reminded in the morning that it was Sylvia Plath's birthday, and I know that she is buried in Heptonstall, just above Hebden Bridge, in the graveyard of what was Ted Hughes' family church. The couple lived there for a time, I think. I am a big fan of Plath's work, so I suggested to my friends that we went to find her grave.

I know plenty of people who have visited Plath's grave but I've never done it myself. I had the notion that it was hard to walk to, but when I googled it, I saw that it really wasn't. The churchyard itself got full, so there's another cemetery just across the way, which is where Sylvia is buried. You can drive right up to the church, but it's a bit of a strange rutted lane that you have to drive down first.

We set off up the very steep hill to Heptonstall, taking it really slow. I really wouldn't like to drive up there in bad weather. You can walk up Church Lane from the middle of the village, but that would have been too much for me, so we drove around Hepton Drive and turned down the lane towards the church. We parked and went into the graveyard. I had read that there isn't explicit directions to Sylvia's grave, but that it was easy to find, and it is. There's a middle bit with memorial plaques to people who have been cremated, and she is just off that centre square. Her grave is filled with flowers and pens and little stones and, at this time of year, conkers.

It was beautiful to see her grave and I'm glad we bothered to. The graveyard is very peaceful and the grave is obviously well attended. I first read The Bell Jar when I was in my mid teens, around twenty years ago, and as a teenager who suffered from mental ill health it really resonated with me. I recommend it if you've never read it, but trigger warning for mental illness and suicidal ideation. I also love a lot of Plath's poetry. I have some of her journals, too.

The epitaph on her grave is from the Bhagavad Gita, which I really like. It meant a lot to me as both a reader and a writer to be there, I'm so glad we went.


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