29 September 2009

Teenage Plath writing & artwork acquired by the Lilly Library

On Tuesday 22 September, at a one day book conference entitled "Books in Hard Times" held at the Grolier Club in New York, I had the chance to speak briefly with Breon Mitchell, director of the Lilly Library. He mentioned during his talk - on libraries collecting during 'hard times' that they still add to their collections when possible. Acquiring is just more strict. Of their impressive holdings, he singled out their Plath materials as being a collection that is still growing, mentioning their recent acquisition of some Plath juvenalia. I asked him during a break what they acquired, and I am exceedingly happy to report that they are the holders of the Plath manuscripts that were just up at auction from Sotheby's in July.

So, although that signed copy of The Colossus is now for sale - and will be presumably for a while - these "juvenalia" are available - right now - for researchers to use. One of the manuscripts Mr. Mitchell particularly mentioned was the list of books read that Plath made.I couldn't agree more that knowing what Plath read in her adolescent, formative years, is of infinite importance.

The items purchased at Sotheby's make up Plath mss. V, 1944–1945. From the IU catalog, Plath mss. V "consists of three items of early Sylvia Plath juvenilia: an autographed manuscript with drawings, entitled "Christmas Booklet", signed "Sylvia Plath" (with 9 illustrated leaves beginning with an illustrated wrapper decorated with paper cut outs of a candle and holly branches, an illustrated title page followed by a thank–you letter to "Aunt Frieda" dated December 26, 1944, a short story and two poems); an 11–page, pencil manuscript hand–made stapled booklet entitled "The Treasures of Sylvia Plath," with her notes on several book titles she apparently read while participating in a reading club including treasures or maxims from each work such as "The Silver Pencil," "The White Stag," and "Stand Fast and Reply" among others; and an illustrated, typescript poem in the form of a get–well card."

It is wonderful that these items found their way to an institution and particularly to one that is continuing to grow its collection. As this blog and my website have documented, Sylvia Plath's papers have found their way to dozens of repositories. One can really add to their frequent flyer miles!

In addition to hearing from librarians, the conference heard from book dealers and book collectors. Each aspect of the book world detailed how collecting has had to change its ways and means in these "difficult economic times". It was particularly illuminating hearing from the dealers and the collectors as each needs the other so much. If you are a book dealer, librarian, or collector, you may be interested in reading more on Philobiblos.

1 comment :

magiciansgirl said...

Great news Peter! I hope to get back to the Lilly someday......

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Publications & Acknowledgements

  • BBC Four.A Poet's Guide to Britain: Sylvia Plath. London: BBC Four, 2009. (Acknowledged in)
  • Biography: Sylvia Plath. New York: A & E Television Networks, 2005. (Photographs used)
  • Connell, Elaine. Sylvia Plath: Killing the angel in the house. 2d ed. Hebden Bridge: Pennine Pens, 1998. (Acknowledged in)
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives." Plath Profiles 2. Summer 2009: 183-208.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives, Redux." Plath Profiles 3. Summer 2010: 232-246.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives 3." Plath Profiles 4. Summer 2011: 119-138.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives 4: Looking for New England." Plath Profiles 5. Summer 2012: 11-56.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives 5: Reanimating the Past." Plath Profiles 6. Summer 2013: 27-62.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. These Ghostly Archives: The Unearthing of Sylvia Plath. Oxford: Fonthill, 2017. Forthcoming.
  • Death Be Not Proud: The Graves of Poets. New York: Poets.org. (Photographs used)
  • Doel, Irralie, Lena Friesen and Peter K. Steinberg. "An Unacknowledged Publication by Sylvia Plath." Notes & Queries 56:3. September 2009: 428-430.
  • Gill, Jo. "Sylvia Plath in the South West." University of Exeter Centre for South West Writing, 2008. (Photograph used)
  • Elements of Literature, Third Course. Austin, Tex. : Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2009. (Photograph used)
  • Helle, Anita Plath. The Unraveling Archive: Essays on Sylvia Plath. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2007. (Photographs used, acknowledged in)
  • Helle, Anita. "Lessons from the Archive: Sylvia Plath and the Politics of Memory". Feminist Studies 31:3. Fall 2005: 631-652.. (Acknowledged in)
  • Holden, Constance. "Sad Poets' Society." Science Magazine. 27 July 2008. (Photograph used)
  • Making Trouble: Three Generations of Funny Jewish Women, Motion Picture. Directed by Rachel Talbot. Brookline (Mass.): Jewish Women's Archive, 2007. (Photograph used)
  • Plath, Sylvia, and Karen V. Kukil. The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, 1950-1962. New York: Anchor Books, 2000. (Acknowledged in)
  • Plath, Sylvia, and Peter K. Steinberg and Karen V. Kukil (eds.). The Letters of Sylvia Plath. London: Faber, 2017. Forthcoming.
  • Plath, Sylvia. Glassklokken. Oslo: De norske Bokklubbene, 2004. (Photograph used on cover)
  • Reiff, Raychel Haugrud. Sylvia Plath: The Bell Jar and Poems (Writers and Their Works). Marshall Cavendish Children's Books, 2008.. (Images provided)
  • Steinberg, Peter K. Sylvia Plath (Great Writers). Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2004.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "'I Should Be Loving This': Sylvia Plath's 'The Perfect Place' and The Bell Jar." Plath Profiles 1. Summer 2008: 253-262.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "Sylvia Plath." The Spoken Word: Sylvia Plath. London: British Library, 2010.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "'They Had to Call and Call': The Search for Sylvia Plath." Plath Profiles 3. Summer 2010: 106-132.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "This is a Celebration: A Festschrift for The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath." Plath Profiles 3 Supplement. Fall 2010: 3-14.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "A Perfectly Beautiful Time: Sylvia Plath at Camp Helen Storrow." Plath Profiles 4. Summer 2011: 149-166.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "Proof of Plath." Fine Books & Collections 9:2. Spring 2011: 11-12.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "Textual Variations in The Bell Jar Publications." Plath Profiles 5. Summer 2012.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "Writing Life" [Introduction]. Sylvia Plath in Devon: A Year's Turning. Stroud, Eng.: Fonthill Media, 2014.

Interviews