When Stephen met Sylvia
Truth is elusive, writes John Sutherland, and contrasting accounts of
a literary dinner party attended by three generations of poets
highlight the problems facing the assiduous biographer.
Take ... a potent concatenation of poetic talent assembled over a
dinner table, in Kensington, in May 1960. Present were Mr and Mrs TS
Eliot, Mr and Mrs Stephen Spender, Mr and Mrs Ted Hughes. The least
luminous in that company, Mrs Hughes, would - eventually - outshine
them all (something unsuspected by the company - including herself).
At least three accounts of the occasion can be recovered. They differ