20 May 2014

New Article Written by Sylvia Plath Found

Sylvia Plath was very active on Smith College Press Board in the academic year of 1952-1953. In March 2012, this blog listed many of the articles known to have been written by Plath, though largely were printed without a byline.

In a letter wholly omitted from Letters Home which Plath wrote on 18 May 1953, she writes her mother that recently she had three articles printed in local papers: two in the Daily Hampshire Gazette with a byline and one, a review, appeared anonymously in the Springfield Union. Two of these three articles are listed in Stephen Tabor's excellent Sylvia Plath: An Annotated Bibliography. That means one was omitted, presumably because its existence was not evident.

In the first of the articles, and one of the two included in Tabor's bibliography, Plath writes that the Springfield Union piece was a review of the recent Smith College production of Ring Round the Moon, written by Jean Anouilh and adapted by Christopher Fry. This article "Smith College Play Delights 'Hamp Audience", appeared on May 15, 1953, on page 31. (Please note that the review appeared on page 30 of the West Edition of the Springfield Union, too. Those tricky editors were messing with us!) Plath writes that Ring Round the Moon "treats with with a aplomb the central situation of a beautiful and poverty-stricken ballet dancer made queen for a night at a spectacular ball in a palatial chateau."

A bit of Plath's review of Ring Round the Moon,
from the Springfield Union, 15 May 1953, p. 31 
The two Daily Hampshire Gazette articles were printed on May 16 and May 20, respectively. The 16 May 1953 article, also included in Tabor, was"Austrian-born Junior enlists in Women's Marine Corps, 'Can't wait to get there'" about Baldwin House resident Antoinette Willard. Willard fled Austrian on the cusp of World War II in 1939 and became an American citizen in 1944. The article contains a very focused and thorough biographical sketch of Willard.

Headline from 16 May 1953 Daily Hampshire Gazette article
The second Daily Hampshire Gazette piece, actually printed two days after Plath's letter home, was an interview/article on Northampton seniors set to graduate from Smith College. This is the article that has never before appeared in any Sylvia Plath bibliography. The title is "Many Area Students Are Among the 464 Who Will Get Smith Degrees on June 8" and appeared on a full page spread covering the "75th Smith College Commencement" which was set to begin on 4 June that year. I have a copy of the page from the microfilm and it must have given Plath an immense sense of journalistic pride to see it.

A portion of Plath's newly found, credited article from
Daily Hampshire Gazette, 20 May 1953, p. 8

Full page (low resolution) from the Daily Hampshire Gazette,
 from 20 May 1953, p. 8.
In the letter to her mother, Plath said she felt these three article showed her versatile skills as a journalist.

For the most part, Plath's contributions while on Press Board were anonymous. Her calendar's are filled with references to lectures and events attended and covered for the Board. Many likely were printed. The nice thing about the post I did called "Sylvia Plath was busy...did you know..." is that there was direct evidence found at Smith attributing certain articles to her. With time, more might be found. One thing that post failed to acknowledge was that Plath also served on Press Board in her sophomore year, 1951-1952. My apologies for that oversight.

The above 1953 article may not have been Plath's first foray in senior write-ups. Her calendar for 1952 (whilst still a sophomore), held at Lilly Library, indicates that between 8-10 May of that year, she was also doing write-ups, which she called "Senior Personals".  On 27 May 1952, the Daily Hampshire Gazette published an article titled "15 Area Girls to Graduate from Smith College June 9" but no author is stated. As you can see below, it is the same format as the 1953 article and similar content. But being unattributed we cannot say for certain if Plath authored this piece, too.

Possibly by Plath, the senior write-ups from 27 May 1952,
Daily Hampshire Gazette, p.9.


n.b. The original 18 May 1953 letter to her mother mentioned above where these three articles are referenced, that started this blog post to begin with, is held by the Lilly Library, Indiana University. By my rough count there are a total of 738 letters to Aurelia Plath (sole addressee) from 1943-1963 at the Lilly Library. Not all of these letters are in Letters Home. Of those that are in the 1975 book, there are (about) 341 letters to Aurelia Plath; 19 letters addressed to both Aurelia Plath and Warren Plath; 1 to Aunt Dorothy Benotti (Aurelia Plath's sister); 1 to Eddie Cohen; 1 to her grandparents Frank and Aurelia Schober; 2 to Olive Higgins Prouty; 17 to Warren Plath (sole addressee); and 2 to Warren and Margaret Plath; for a total of 384 letters. Letters Home prints, also, two letters from Plath (a postcard and a birthday poem) that do not appear to be part of the collection at the Lilly Library.

All links accessed 19 May 2014.

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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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