Nicholas Hughes' life began with tragedy, and was destined to end that way as well. The son of the poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath, Hughes' mother committed suicide when he was a baby by putting her head in a gas oven while her children slept in another room, sealed off from the gas. Six years later, Assia Wevill, the woman for whom Ted Hughes had left Plath and a caretaker for young Nicholas and his sister Frieda, killed herself and her four-year-old daughter in the same manner. Nicholas Hughes grew up to become a marine biologist, professor of fisheries and ocean sciences at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He shared a love of the natural world—particularly fish—with his father, who died in 1998. In recent years, Hughes sunk into depression and left his post at the university. His older sister Frieda, herself now a writer, announced that he killed himself on March 16, 2009. He was 47.