01 June 2014

10 Year Anniversary of Sylvia Plath (Great Writers)

This is not naturally something I would expect anyone to know, remember, or commemorate, but ten years ago this month my biography of Sylvia Plath (Chelsea House Publishers, Great Writers series) was published. (Amazon's page claims that it was published in April, but copies were not available until June. It also has a capsule review, still, for the wrong book. #OhWell.) To those who have read it: Thank you! To those who have not, it is available in both hardback and Kindle editions, and also available in many libraries around the world, and through some used book shops.

Sylvia Plath formed one sixth of an original series that also includes biographies of Barbara Kingsolver by Linda Wagner-Martin, Kurt Vonnegut by John Tomedi, J.R.R. Tolkien by Neil Heims, Charles Bukowski by Michael Gray Baughan, and Jack Kerouac by Jenn McKee. The series expanded the following year to include books on five gay and lesbian writers: Adrienne Rich by Amy Sickels, Allen Ginsberg by Neil Heims, James Baldwin by Randall Kenan and Amy Sickels, Oscar Wilde by Jeff Nunokawa and Amy Sickels, Walt Whitman by Arnie Kantrowitz, and Sappho by Jane McIntosh Snyder and Camille-Yvette Welsch. I have not yet read the other books in the series, but as I think about this, maybe I should. Has anyone out there read any of the others?

At the time it was published, it was the first new biography of Plath to appear since 1991, when Paul Alexander's Rough Magic: A Biography of Sylvia Plath and Ronald Hayman's The Death and Life of Sylvia Plath were published. The book was written for a specific audience in mind: junior high and high school aged children and college students, to serve as an introductory text that might inspire its readers to both become interested in Plath's writings and life, and lead them to potentially investigate full-length biographies as well as works of criticism. Notwithstanding, it presented snippets of new information never previously known or mentioned in other biographies.

One of the aims of my book was to present a bias-free version of Plath's life for that younger audience. I think I largely succeeded in doing this, keeping it straightforward, hopefully easy to read, interesting and informative. I had intended the book to include illustrative photographs and sidebars, written to the guidelines stipulated in the contract. Neither of these added-value materials were used, sadly. I posted the unused sidebars on this blog in 2007, and hope that they can be read in conjunction with the text, to highlight certain things in the work, or on occasion to at least discuss topics intentionally not expounded upon in the text.

Overall I am still thrilled to have had the opportunity to write the book. It gave me a chance to share some of the information I had acquired on Plath to that point. How I wish I could revise it with some of the things I have learned since! And, too, how I wish I had more than 10 weeks in which to write it!

All links accessed 16 May 2014.


Carl Rollyson said...

Your book remains a helpful and reliable source, Peter. I used it as one of my guides. Congratulation on your tenth anniversary.

Peter K Steinberg said...

Thank you Carl!


Melanie Smith said...

Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah.
Happy bookday to you.
It has a special place in my Plath cabinet.

The Plath Diaries said...

Happy anniversary Peter! Must get you to sign my copy whenever our paths next cross!

Suzanne Demko said...

Belated Congratulations Peter. The book was as you billed it and is a treasured possession. Keep on Plathin'

Peter K Steinberg said...

Melanie, Maeve, and Suzanne! Thanks thanks thanks! I would look more forward just to chatting Plath with you, Maeve, than signing your book; but would be happy to do that too! So glad to know the book is in these homes so far and away from where it was made!!


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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.