The Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair was held this weekend at the Hynes Convention Center. As usual, I attended to drool over Sylvia Plath books and other very fine collectibles. Hot authors this year that were very well represented were Graham Greene, John Steinbeck, and Mark Twain. Under represented was Sylvia Plath, IMHO.
Jett Whitehead was there again from Michigan. He has perhaps the greatest collection of Broadsides, Chapbooks, First Editions, Letters From Poets, Modern Poetry, and Poetry Manuscripts to be had in a single booth and under one roof on the planet. Jett in the past has exhibited a autograph manuscript copy of Plath’s poem “The Snowflake Star” (circa 1946). He used to have a first edition of Ariel with thatch drippings from Court Green signed by Ted Hughes to the poet Janos Csokits. Jett is particularly Plathian: “The blood jet is poetry...”
Between the Covers Rare Books out of Gloucester City, New Jersey was there. They have impressive holdings and stock if you’re interested in modern firsts and rare books. And to boot, they have a great website chock-full of color images, some which rotate. If you’re interested in beginning a collection on Plath (or another author), ask for their specialized author catalog.
James S. Jaffe Rare Books is another dealer with amazing quality stock, including the copy of The Colossus that Plath sent to Theodore Roethke (dated 13 April 1961, or five years to the day that she flew back from Rome to London and to Ted Hughes). He has also a copy of Howls & Whispers, Ariel (first Faber), “Sculptor”, and a rare copy of the appearance of “Dialogue en Route” from the Smith Review.
Of course, there is much, much more. Thomas Goldwasser has a proof copy of the ultra rare Trois Poemes Inedits, which were poems by Plath, uncollected and neither published or listed in her Collected Poems. (Of the books mentioned so far this was the only one that was at the fair that I saw.) Not to turn this post into a dissertation on Trois Poemes Inedits... but there were just 100 copies printed of Trois Poemes Inedits. While WorldCat lists only one copy in a library (UNC Chapel Hill); the Mortimer Rare Book Room at Smith College has a very lovely copy of this with the manuscript handwritten poem tipped in. The manuscript poem is on a sheet of paper torn from a top-spiral notebook; the paper is something like five by eight inches or so. As mentioned, there were 100 copies printed, 97 are “normal”; while the three others are especial (so special indeed we add the e for emphasis). These three especial copies include the manuscript page of the poem (like the copy at Smith). I’m on the fence about this Trois Poems Inedits. The copy at Smith, with its ripped out manuscript sheet of notebook paper, had the air of something stolen. The Goldwasser copy is the editor's proofs and as one would thus expect they are marked up with layout and designed notes throughout. Quite unique. You can see a cover image of Trois Poemes Inedits on the Limited Editions page of my website.
Now to what I did see!
Boston’s Peter L Stern & Co had on display his $12,500 copy of a Victoria Lucas Bell Jar (pictured here). This is “The Most Expensive Bell Jar in the World”. This is one of the most glorious and gorgeous copies imaginable. Jeffrey H. Marks Rare Books of Rochester New York also has a copy for this price. While Marks was at the fair I did not see his copy of Bell Jar displayed (though I certainly may have missed it if it was). Also on had was Raptis’ $3,750 copy of the same title. This is “The Second Most Expensive Bell Jar in the World”. Both Jonkers Rare Books and Athena Rare Books had beautifully bright copies of the first Faber Ariel. The Jonkers copy is £750 ($1,200); the Athena $1,200. (More on Ariel later this week; maybe at the weekend...) I saw some Faber first editions of The Bell Jar, Crossing the Water, and Winter Trees. I saw one first Harper & Row Ariel, too. As for the limited editions, there was a reasonably priced copy of Three Women (1968, $700); as well as copies of Two Poems, The Green Rock, and Lyonnesse.
One of the many joys of this event is just walking around, looking at the pretty, fine books, judging them by their covers (in fact, many of the book covers in the Book Cover Galleries of my website have come from some of these dealers past or current stock.). And of course I don't solely look at Plath stuff... The older editions from centuries past looking more like museum artifact's than reading material, the prints and broadsides, autographs, ephemera, occasional artworks and the genuine goodness of the dealers. As 99.999% of the stuff there is outside of my means, it sure is fun to look and touch. To read more about the Boston Book Fair (and oh so much more), please head over to my friend Philobiblos’ blog.
Can’t wait for next year!
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)
- Gill, Jo. "Sylvia Plath in the South West." University of Exeter Centre for South West Writing, 2008. (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. 2000. The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, 1950-1962. New York: Anchor Books. (Acknowledged in)
- 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.
- "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.