06 November 2015

A Penny for Sylvia Plath's Thoughts...

In February 1955, Mademoiselle published a special "twentieth anniversary issue". One of the sections of this issue did a year-by-year review of highlights and Sylvia Plath was mentioned as one for 1952. This was the year in which her short story "Sunday at the Mintons'" was published and won first prize in the College Fiction Contest.

Mademoiselle, March 1955
We know Plath read this February 1955 issue for two reasons. One is that Cyrilly Abels sent Plath a telegram (held by the Lilly Library) on 1 March 1955 saying "Thanks for your fine words about February and also for the stories". It is possible this is in reference to three stories Plath sent to Abels on 30 January 1955: "The Day Mr. Prescott Died", "Tongues of Stone", and "Superman and Paula Brown's New Snowsuit". The second reason we know Plath read the February 1955 issue is because in their March 1955 issue, Mademoiselle printed Plath's brief accolade referred to in Abels' telegram in the "A Penny for your thoughts…" section.

Appearing on page 64, this brief but previously unknown periodical appearance for Plath has not been recorded in any previous bibliography. Printed under a heading of "Many happy returns", Plath's text reads:
Page 64 of Mademoiselle,
March 1955 
Never have I read such a plump, magnificent issue as your February one! A very happy twentieth birthday to you.

At Smith, my friends and I were especially enchanted by the gay, lilting love poem by Donald Hall and the winsome, whimsical Peynet sketches. I reveled in the superb story by Bryan McMahon and you can imagine how I welcomed Dylan Thomas! To tell the other features I enjoyed would be to run through the contents of the whole magazine. Congratulations on the most wonderful MLLE yet -- a delight and challenge to the eye and to the mind.

S. P., Smith College, Northampton, Mass.
The February 1955 issue of Mademoiselle, as Plath mentions, printed the following works: Donald Hall's "Valentine" (p. 121), French artist Raymond Peynet's sketches under the collective title "The Path of Love" (pp. 144-145), Bryan MacMahon's "O, Lonely Moon!" (pp. 164-165, 211-216), and Dylan Thomas' short, short story "The Vest" (pp. 142-143), among other features. Here is a photograph of the Table of Contents which Plath so enthusiastically enjoyed:

And here are the Peynet sketches:

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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.