22 October 2012

Update from the Archives Day 1

What a start to the week. The week of all Sylvia Plath all the time, though saying it like that makes it just like any other week. I met the poet and Plath essayist David Trinidad Sunday evening in Bloomington where we immediately got our Plath on: what a fun, great man and we had some stellar discussions.

Today in the Plath archive at the Lilly Library we worked across from one another, like dueling pianists. He was primarily reading Plath's letters, and being less focused, I was all over the place. I began with the Plath mss papers - the ones Plath sold in London to a bookseller who was acquring poets papers for the Lilly Library. These are largely poems written in 1960 and 1961, but mixed in are the odd pages of The Bell Jar and short story ("The Fifteen Dollar Eagle"). Not a lot of beefy drafts the way that her later poems are (the ones held at Smith College). However there are fuller files folders for poems such as "Wuthering Heights", "The Surgeon at 2 A.M." and "Private Ground", to name a few. I was fascinated to work with these poems. Many were written on versos of a draft manuscript of her book The Colossus. Some contain writings by Ted Hughes. So much attention has been focused on the Ariel period poems that I feel these are somewhat ignored. That being said, it also is not hard to really see why because Plath neither saved nor numbered nor dated her earlier poems the way she did those from 1962. It would be safe, I think, to say that the reason why she did become meticulous about it is because she had successfull sold this "scrap paper".

After I worked with this, I switched to the Lameyer mss because in a previous trip I had made some transcriptions from the letters held in this collection and wanted to check my work. I also cannot get enough of the mostly color photographs of Plath from 1954-1956, from Smith College to Venice, Italy.

During the course of the morning both Amanda Golden and Julia Gordon-Bramer came play in the archives and it was most awesome to see Amanda again, and terrific to finally meet Julia.

Following this, I called Plath's Cambridge University period notes in Box 13 of Plath mss II looking for a needle in the haystack: and sadly not finding it. I saw something in 2010 when I was here on the Helm Fellowship, and was trying to find it again only to discover I had no real recollection of where it was I saw this document. Very frustrating. Maybe tomorrow, maybe Wednesday or so I'll have a more positive update on this front.

The afternoon I spent looking through Plath's calendar's for 1952-1955 (Plath mss II, Box 7) as many of her letters to Gordon Lameyer are undated (and without the envelopes for post-mark identification/assistance) so I was looking through her academic and summer doings in the attempt to accurately date these undated letters. I am pleased to say I think I nailed 100% of those questionable epistles down. By the time I finished, because it wasn't all hunting and gathering: there was quite a bit of loitering over the details of her days, it was time to leave for the day. Always a downer.

The good news: Tomorrow should bring The Plath Diaries to the library. And, speaking of which, the library re-opens in just 11 and a half hours.


A Piece of Plathery said...

You do realise I am insanely jealous, but hanging off your every word. Do do keep us updated!

Julia Gordon-Bramer said...

There is nothing more fun than sitting around with a group of people who can finish each other's sentences, because of course, they are not ours, but Sylvia's! We are having loads of fun and wish you were here, Melanie. Sincerely.

A Piece of Plathery said...

Boo hoo hoo. Sniff.
Very glad you are having Plath fabulousness though.

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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 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, Redux." Plath Profiles 3. Summer 2010: 232-246.
  • 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: The Unearthing of Sylvia Plath. Oxford: Fonthill, 2017.
  • 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. 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, Volume 1, 1940-1956. 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. "'A Fetish: Somehow': A Sylvia Plath Bookmark." Court Green 13. 2017.
  • 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. "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. "Sylvia Plath." The Spoken Word: Sylvia Plath. London: British Library, 2010.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "Textual Variations in The Bell Jar Publications." Plath Profiles 5. Summer 2012.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "The Persistence of Plath." Fine Books & Collections. Autumn 2017: 24-29
  • 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. "Writing Life" [Introduction]. Sylvia Plath in Devon: A Year's Turning. Stroud, Eng.: Fonthill Media, 2014.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. Sylvia Plath (Great Writers). Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2004.