10 October 2015

Two Sylvia Plath Lots at Bonhams in November

Bonhams will offer two small Sylvia Plath lots in their 11 November 2015 sale at Knightsbridge in London.

"The Mummy's Tomb",
from Bonhams
Lot 120 features an "Autograph manuscript of her early story 'The Mummy's Tomb', headed by her: 'The Mummy's Tomb / by Sylvia Plath/ May 17, 1946". The estimate is £1,500 - 2,000 (US$ 2,300 - 3,100).

The lot details read:
"Autograph manuscript of her early story 'The Mummy's Tomb', headed by her: "The Mummy's Tomb/ by Sylvia Plath/ May 17, 1946", opening: "I had come to the museum to do some research work on Egypt for my history notebook...", recounting the gothic tale of a girl's nocturnal visit to a display of mummies and her encounter with their sinister keeper ("...'Ha!' he leered, 'you got away yesterday, but you won't now. I'll muffle your screams of anguish and let you die from loss of blood and in terrible pain. You must meet the Egyptian gods. I will slowly cut out your eyes and harden them for the show case display!'..."), 4 pages, on two separate sheets, very faint spotting and light pencil-smudging, 4to, 17 May 1946."
"Aquatic Nocturne",
from Bonhams
Lot 121 consists of "Annotated typescripts of five poems written when at Smith College, Smith College, 1948-1950 where dated". The estimate for this lot is a reasonable £1,500 - 2,000 (US$ 2,300 - 3,100). The poems are: "aquatic nocturne", "Terminal", "Van Winkle's Village", "The Dark River (P.N.)", and "The Invalid".

The lot details for this read:
"Annotated typescripts of five poems written when at Smith College, comprising 'Aquatic Nocturne', opening: "down where sound/ comes blunt and wan/ like the bronze tone/ of a sunken gong/ or the garbled jargon/ of a drowning man...", two lines revised in ink with an alternative opening indicated in pencil, also marked up by her teacher ("This experiment is a most successful one/ I don't quite get these lines"), typed initials at head, marked in pencil "85"; 'Terminal', opening: "Bolting home from credulous blue domes...", one line revised in ink, typed name and Smith College address at head, marked in pencil "16/2"; 'Van Winkle's Village', opening: "Today, although the slanting light reminds...", first four lines reworked in ink and marked "Rewritten", typed name and Smith College address at head, marked in pencil "80/2"; 'The Dark River (P. N.)', opening: "You are near and unattainable...", dated in ink "1948", marked in pencil "67a"; 'The Invalid', opening: "Half-past four on an April morning...", carbon undercopy, title in ink and dated "1950", marked in pencil "52b", 5 pages, in folders marked with sequence numbers, 4to, Smith College, 1948-1950 where dated."
These are select pieces of the big Sotheby's auction from December 2014. See this blog post and this one as well if you want to refresh your memory. That auction failed to sell as a complete archive of its own and as a result, as is typical of this kind of thing, the whole of it will likely be broken apart.

"The Mummy's Tomb", while an early story, is one of a kind. As it is handwritten, no other version of this story is extant in this format. The Lilly Library at Indiana University, Bloomington, holds a three page typescript (four pages if you include the cover sheet).

The poems are also unique. While other copies exist, these contain comments and revisions both by Plath and her instructor. The Lilly Library holds several typescripts of "Aquatic Nocturne" that show the progress of the poem: its final form as well as its initial one, including Plath changing the title from "aquatic nocturne" to "Aquatic Nocturne". What is unique and most attractive about this lot (or at least, this poem as it's the only one with an image) is that it shows the changes to the poem in progress. Completing, if you will, the creative process of her drafts. Additional typescript copies of these poems may be held at Smith College and Emory University, as well.

All links accessed 9 October 2015.

1 comment :

suki said...

When do you think we'll get a collected, Collected Poems??

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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.