'Assia was my true wife, and the best friend I ever had', wrote a heart-broken Ted Hughes, after Assia Wevill surrendered her life and that of their four-year old daughter to the fumes from the gas oven in her London flat, in March 1969 six years after Sylvia Plath had suffered a similar fate.
Diva, she-devil, enchantress, muse, Lillith, Jezebel. The exquisitely beautiful Assia Wevill inspired or provoked many epithets in the course of three marriages and in pursuit of a destiny that took her from dark pre-war Berlin, to Palestine during the British Mandate and then to London in the swinging 'Sixties. In the end, none would prove to be more fitting than the epithet- and epitaph- she chose for herself: 'Here lies a lover of unreason, and an exile'.
The story of the ultimately tragic failure in the marriage between Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, twentieth-century poetry's most celebrated literary couple, has always been related from one of two conflicting points of view: hers or his. Missing for more than four decades had been a third, equally relevant and no less fascinating perspective: that of Ted Hughes's mistress, Assia Wevill.
A Lover of Unreason, the first biography of Assia Wevill, views afresh the Plath-Hughes relationship and marriage with a keen, revisionary eye, and at the same time, recounts the journey that shaped her life. Hers is a complex story, formed as it is by the pull of often contrary forces: fatal attraction and obsessive love, fidelity and adultery, cruelty and tenderness, dependence and rebellion, envy and self-sacrifice.
Yehuda Koren and Eilat Negev are both distinguished literary journalists and authors, and have been researching Assia Wevill's story for 15 years. In the course of their research they have unearthed a mass of personal documents, and interviewed all the key witnesses, most of them speaking here for the first time. Koren and Negev's previous book, In Our Hearts We Were Giants, a dwarf family's survival of the Holocaust, was published in eight languages, and inspired two documentary films.