18 October 2013

Sylvia Plath collections: Cleverdon mss II

Douglas Cleverdon in 1963
The Lilly Library holds the "Cleverdon mss II, 1926-1988". Within this collection (see the finding aid) are several Sylvia Plath related items. There are Sylvia Plath related items in the series "Writings by Others," Correspondence, BBC Registry, Program notes, and an audiotape containing "Lady Lazarus" and "Daddy" (see Box 7).

In the Scripts subseries, there are transcripts of "Three Women" as broadcast on August 19, 1962, and the poem "Crossing the Water" with commentary by Ted Hughes as broadcast on July 5, 1971.

In the correspondence series there are letters to or from Olwyn Hughes and Ted Hughes. Per an archivist at the Lilly, there are two letters from Olwyn Hughes, only one of which discusses Plath. The letter that discusses Plath is from 28 May 1971 and lists poems Ted Hughes prefers for Crossing the Water.

The correspondence with Ted Hughes, however, does not mention Plath beyond Cleverdon himself telling Hughes to give Plath his regards. This obviously dates some of the letters to before 11 February 1963.

I browsed through parts this collection during the Sylvia Plath Symposium last year and found Plath related material in boxes 7 and 8, and found many references to Plath. Some of the more interesting materials are lists of Plath's correspondence with BBC staff that includes small summaries of each letter's contents. This shows them taking stock of what they had at some point after Plath's life ended. It might have been these were retiring the letters from an active file to an inactive file, or preparing them for transfer to the Written Archives Centre. One does not necessarily know. The letters are all now held by the BBC Written Archives Center (and these were discussed in my paper with Gail Crowther, "These Ghostly Archives").

There are copies of internal communications regarding Plath's works from when she was living. Included among these are thoughts about "Three Women" from May 1962; production memorandums and other official BBC Radio documents regarding acceptance of the verse poem and payment for it; broadcast typescripts of the poem; audience research feedback regarding the airing of "Three Women" in August 1962 as well as its re-broadcast in August 1968; and notes by Cleverdon as he wrote his introduction to the poem (published in the limited edition version of "Three Women" from 1968 (see a cover image here) and in 1970's The Art of Sylvia Plath).

The Ave Maria.
Other interesting items I found in Cleverdon mss II include a typescript poem by Richard Murphy entitled "For Sylvia Plath / (1932-1963)". In eight, three-lined stanzas, Murphy's memorial poem remembers Plath's visit with Hughes in September 1962 to Coole Park, the Yew tree near where Murphy was born, the excursion on Murphy's boat, the Ave Maria, where he remembers Plath stood like a figurehead. But, now dead her words (truths) are created from a cemetery, while those still living stand around guiltily. Terrible paraphrase, but what can one do?

The Cleverdon mss II papers include a transcript of the Peter Orr/British Council interview with Plath from 30 October 1962. There are notes and memos about A. Alvarez's program on Plath that aired in the summer of 1963 (the text of which was printed in the October 1963 issue of The Review (see image of this cover here; and please note that the archives of The Review, which are held by the Rare Books and Special Collections at Northern Illinois University, were discussed by Gina Hodnik in "Early Public Representations of Sylvia Plath: An Analysis of the Sylvia Plath issue of The Review").

You can see more libraries that hold Plath materials on the Archival Materials page of my website for Sylvia Plath, A celebration, this is.

All links accessed 25 September 2013.

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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.