Today was the first day of my research trip at the Lilly Library. I travelled from Boston through Washington DC to Indianapolis by air, and then to Bloomington on the shuttle bus. The total travel time from when I left the house was about 9 hours. It was a beautiful day to fly, the whole eastern seaboard was cloud free: Manhattan and Philadelphia were quite easily spotted. The Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia gave way after a while to a flat, snow cover land.
What I focused on today was the correpsondence between 1960 and 1963. Looking for needles in haystacks is never easy and not always rewarding. My reason for spending the day on them is because I am working of a project that must remain ill-defined for now. These letters were at first such a joy to read, but as always after spring 1962 the story takes a turn.
Many of the letters are printed in Letters Home, but not all of them. And while the 1982's Journals are quite transparent about edits and omissions, the letters are not. In Letters Home, an ellipsis usually does mean edited text but one is never quite sure. The letters show moreso than anything I've ever read, how difficult a time it was for Plath. Meeting and/or corresponding with Plath's friends such as Elizabeth Sigmund can help to explain some things: but they are hard to read - and that is putting it mildly.
This letter reading (and comparing to the printed Letters Home) ook most of the day - and by 5 or so my mind was just about fried.
With the remaining time of the day, I called for the first group of manuscripts the Lilly acquired of Plath's; those poems and work sheets from The Colossus and many of the poems written in 1961. The particular poem I called was "Wuthering Heights". The draft of this poem appears on the back of a typed, but unpublished poem entitled "Home Thoughts from London."
The composition of this poem can be dated to late October or early November 1960. The address at the top is 3 Chalcot Square and in the poem Plath mentioned pushing her baby girl in the pram up Primrose Hill. The "Home Thoughts" taken the speaker back to Massachusetts: to it's colorful autumn outside of Boston and to a high school (American) football game. Is it her best poem ever? Clearly not but it was one I didn't realize existed until I started preparing for the trip.
Tomorrow I plan to shift gears and examine clippings. Clippings, clippings, and more clippings.
Hey, I just found out I had an article published in the September 2009 Notes & Queries! The article was co-written by Irralie Doel and Lena Friesen, and gives details about "The Perfect Place" (working title "The Lucky Stone"), the story that Plath published that went unacknowledged for more than four decades! Check it out.
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.
- 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.
- Elements of Literature, Third Course. Austin, Tex. : Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2009. (Photograph used)
- Helle, Anita. "Lessons from the Archive: Sylvia Plath and the Politics of Memory". Feminist Studies 31:3. Fall 2005: 631-652.. (Acknowledged in)
- Helle, Anita Plath. The Unraveling Archive: Essays on Sylvia Plath. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2007. (Photographs used, 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. 2000. The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, 1950-1962. New York: Anchor Books. (Acknowledged in)
- Gill, Jo. "Sylvia Plath in the South West." University of Exeter Centre for South West Writing, 2008. (Photograph used)
- Reiff, Raychel Haugrud. Sylvia Plath: The Bell Jar and Poems (Writers and Their Works). Marshall Cavendish Children's Books, 2008.. (Images provided)
- Plath, Sylvia. Glassklokken. Oslo: De norske Bokklubbene, 2004. (Photograph used on cover)
- 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. "'They Had to Call and Call': The Search for Sylvia Plath." Plath Profiles 3. Summer 2010: 106-132.
- Steinberg, Peter K. "Sylvia Plath." The Spoken Word: Sylvia Plath. London: British Library, 2010.
- 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. "Proof of Plath." Fine Books & Collections 9:2. Spring 2011: 11-12.
- Steinberg, Peter K. "A Perfectly Beautiful Time: Sylvia Plath at Camp Helen Storrow." Plath Profiles 4. Summer 2011: 149-166.
- Steinberg, Peter K. "Textual Variations in The Bell Jar Publications." Plath Profiles 5. Summer 2012.
- "Banking on his passion for Plath" by Melissa Davis Haller. UMW Today. Spring 2005.
- "Sylvia Plath's Three Women to be staged in London" by Alison Flood. The Guardian. 3 December 2008.
- "FBI files on Sylvia Plath's father shed new light on poet" by Dalya Alberge. The Guardian. 17 August 2012.
- "There Are Almost No Obituaries for Sylvia Plath" by Ashley Fetters. The Atlantic. 11 February 2013.