08 October 2013

Sylvia Plath Collections: Hudson Review Archives

Princeton University's Manuscript Division in the Department. of Rare Books and Special Collections (on Twitter) holds the Hudson Review Archives.  The Hudson Review was founded by Frederick Morgan in 1948. He ran it with his wife, Paula Deitz (Smith College, class of 1959). Sylvia Plath published four poems in their Autumn 1960 issue: "Ouija", "Electra on Azalea Path", "Suicide Off Egg Rock", and "Moonrise". As you might have guessed, there are Sylvia Plath archival materials in the collection, in box 99, folder 9.

There are two letters from Sylvia Plath in the collection dated 1 June 1959 and 7 October 1961. The 1 June 1959 letter is typed, on off-white/cream colored paper, and signed in Plath's distinctive bold black Schaeffer fountain pen. Plath writes that she is happy to know that Hudson Review has accepted her four poems, and gives biographical notes about herself as well as a list of 13 journals and magazines in which her work has appeared and 3 that have accepted but not yet printed her work. Plath closes the letter updating her address from 9 Willow Street to 26 Elmwood Road (she and Ted Hughes were a month away from their cross country trip which was followed by their stay at Yaddo). The 7 October 1961 letter is also typed, but on her blue air-letter paper from Court Green. In this letter, Plath asks for copyright assignment for "Moonrise", "Ouija", and "Suicide Off Egg Rock" for their appearance in the Knopf edition of The Colossus, published in May 1962. (You may remember from the previous post, that Plath also sent a similar letter to Poetry on this same day. It is clear what she was doing on this day!) Plath did include "Electra on Azalea Path" in her request as that poem was not one she included in the volume. Plath had rejected the "Electra poem" from her book as of 23 April 1959. An annotation on the letter indicates that copyright assignment was sent to Plath's Knopfian editor Judith B. Jones on 10 October 1961.

In addition to the letters by Plath, the Hudson Review Archives contains approximately 19 other pages of documents. These include random photocopies (of the title page of Plath's Collected Poems, Harper, 1981), memorandum and notes, and letters about Plath, usually dealing with copyright. Here is a list of the other letters in the Plath folder. The structure below will be: Sender to Recipient, Date, brief subject:

Susan A Sueyres Assistant for Fran McCullough to Frederick Morgan, 16 June 1971, asking for copyright assignment of "Ouija" for its appearance in Crossing the Water;

Irene Skolnick to Fran McCullough, 22 June 1971, asking for copyright assignment of "Oujia";

Terry Karten to Permissions Department of Hudson Review, 15 June 1981, asking for copyright assignment of "Electra on Azalea Path" and includes the copyright assignment form;

Richard B Smith to Terry Karten, 25 June 1981, assigning copyright of "Electra on Azalea Path";

Paul Alexander to Paula Deitz, 25 May 1986, sending poems for consideration and asking if they have any letters from Plath as he was at work on a biography of her;

Suzanne to Frederick Morgan, 25 Feb [1987?], confirming the names of the four poems published in the Hudson Review in 1960;

Paula Deitz to Ted Solotarnoff, 11 March 1987, asking that an acknowledgement be put into Plath's Collected Poems be added to future printings ;

Frederick Morgan (?) to Paula Deitz, undated, circa March 1987, internal memo asking if she will take care of the Harper's request or if he should;

Mary D'Agnese to Paula Deitz, 26 May 1987, stating that the acknowledgement of the poems prior appearance in the journal will be in future printings of Plath's Collected Poems (I would like to add that this acknowledgement does not appear in the most recent printing of the book);

Paula Deitz to Sally Robson, 2 August 2000, asking for permission to reprint Plath's 1959 letter and send to subscribers in an annual invitation to become a "Friend" of the journal; and

Sally Robson to Paula Deitz, 4 August 2000, granting permission to reprint request.

Often archives provide back-stories and a behind-the-scenes look at book publication and production. We frequently only handle the finished product: the hard copy of the Hudson Review, the first edition of Crossing the Water, or Plath's well-read Collected Poems. But what goes into the finished product is usually hidden from view. Though small, this archive is one such instance where we can peek under the cover to see how things went, as is, for example, the "Houghton Mifflin Company Collection of papers on Bitter Fame, 1954-1991" (finding aid) and the "Edward Butscher Collection of papers on Sylvia Plath, 1918-1976 (Bulk: 1946-1976)" (finding aid) that are held by the Mortimer Rare Book Room at Smith College.

The photoduplication services provided by Princeton are fantastic. The image quality is excellent and the staff at the Rare Books and Special Collections library is courteous and represents the cream of the crop.

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 3 October 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." 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.

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