The gravestone has been repeatedly vandalized by those aggrieved that "Hughes" is written on the stone; they have attempted to chisel it off, leaving only the name "Sylvia Plath." When Hughes' partner killed herself and their four-year-old daughter Shura in 1969, this practice intensified. After each defacement, Hughes had the damaged stone removed, sometimes leaving the site unmarked during repair. Outraged mourners accused Hughes in the media of dishonoring her name by removing the stone. Wevill's death led to claims that Hughes had been abusive to both Plath and Wevill. In 1970, radical feminist poet published the poem "Arraignment", in which she openly accused Hughes of the battery and murder of Plath; other radical feminists threatened to kill him in Plath's name. Plath's poem "The jailor" was included in the 1970 anthology
Sylvia Plath (; October 27, 1932 – February 11, 1963) was one of the most renowned and influential poets, novelists, and short story writers of the 20th century. Born in , she studied at and at the before receiving acclaim as a poet and writer. She was married to fellow poet from 1956 until they separated in September of 1962. They lived together in the United States and then England and had two children, and . Plath was for most of her adult life. She died by in 1963.
A major factor in the angry reaction over Hughes handling of Plath's estate was his destruction of her very last journal. It covered the period from the winter of 1962 to her death. Sylvia Plath was an avid diary keeper. She started writing in her diary at the age of 11 and completed several volumes until her death. The diaries that chronicled her life in college and onward were finally published in 1980, titled, edited by Frances McCullough.