07 July 2016

Sylvia Plath and The Bradford, Part 2: 1948-1949

This is the second post on Sylvia Plath's participation with and contributions to The Bradford. (Read the first was post.) This post looks at Plath's junior year of high school, 1948-1949. But first, a side-story.

One of the first things I found when working with the archive was that Plath was the subject of a feature article on 20 December 1977. Kathleen Offenhartz's "Bradford Remembers: Sylvia Plath" is a measured piece with some revealing information. The article appears on pages 1 and 3. Upon reading page three, among several other things ye olde Archive Fever 103° took hold as re-printed there from an earlier issue of The Bradford was Plath's poem "Fog". Like me you might be saying, "But in none of the bibliographies of Plath's work is there an entry in the 1940s for a poem entitled 'Fog'."

Well now: clearly we were mistaken.

This 1977 find sent me hurtling back to the 1940s. I quickly found all 18 issues for the period that Plath was in high school and started to photograph each page. In the process of photographing each of the pages of the newspapers I found "Fog", which was printed with a byline on 4 February 1949, page 3.

"Fog" is an unusually structured sonnet, with three uneven stanzas of five lines, six lines, and three lines. The Lilly Library holds four separate typescripts of "Fog". Each contains essentially the same words though there are variations in stanza length, line structure, and imagery in each copy. One bears the pseudonym "Sandra Peters". The copy used for publication in The Bradford features the Plath's name, age, town & state typed at the top right and above this is a handwritten year of "1948". A fifth version of "Fog" was a part of the December 2014 Sotheby's auction that failed to sell.

Back to the 4 February 1949 issue… In the contributor area for this issue, Plath is the sole name listed under Art. The only art in the issue appears on page 2 as three silhouettes in the "Who Are They???" section. "Who Are They???" printed silhouettes of students and featured information about the students and the reader had to guess the person. It is unclear if Plath (or whoever the artist responsible for the silhouettes in each issue was) wrote the content here. In this issue, the students featured were Janet Seely, Mike Moore, and Jean Woods.

Below is a list of those newspapers which were published during Plath's junior year of high school. Here I describe the known contributions Plath made to The Bradford from the fall of 1948 to spring of 1949, as well as the instances where she was mentioned. The list of contributors for each issue appeared on page 2. If Plath's name appeared, I have listed the department and/or role. There are instances where Plath's name was not listed, which we can take to mean she contributed no content or was accidentally left off (though that seems doubtful). The departments typically were Features, News, Business, Sports, Typing, and Art. Each newspaper, excepting 29 April 1949, was a four pages in broadsheet format. The 29 April 1949 was mimeographed on sixteen pages of standard copy paper and stapled twice at the top. The full extent of Plath's contributions may be unknowable as bylines were not used consistently. Certainly during her co-editorship she did a decent amount of writing and revision.

1 November 1948
Mentioned on page 2 as member of Bradford staff in Features department.

16 December 1948
Mentioned on page 2 as member of Bradford staff in Features department.

4 February 1949
"Fog" with byline and artwork without byline, discussed above. These contributions have not been acknowledged or attributed previously in any bibliography.

Mentioned on the following pages:
Page 1: "Junior Prom Jitters": mentioned for being on decorations committee.
Page 2: As member of Bradford staff in Features and Art departments.
Page 4: "Girls' Basketball Gets Under Way"; member of junior class team as a guard and as a junior varsity member, also as a guard.

28 March 1949
"April: 1949" with byline. A long poem in three parts: "1. The Storm Clouds Gather", "2. The Approach of the Horsemen", and "3.The Appeal". The first two parts are traditional 14-line sonnets comprised of three quatrains and a final couplet. The third part is longer, 24 lines that begin and end with couplets with five quatrains in between. An apocalyptic poem featuring the four horsemen. "April: 1949" expresses mid-century fears about the possibility of "The Atomic Threat", which Plath wrote about the previous year. The Lilly Library holds a typescript of this poem under the title "Youth's Appeal for Peace" and is dated by Plath March 28, 1949. This contribution has not been acknowledged or attributed previously in any bibliography.

Mentioned on the following pages:
Page 1: "Snoop 'n Scoop", mentioned for recognition in the Scholastic Magazines Art Contest.
Page 2: "We Asked You…", SP gave response to question "What simple things are you unable to do?" Her response was "Raise an eyebrow."
Page 3: "The Bradford Salutes…", mentioned for being a member of the March Devotional Committee.

29 April 1949
Most likely two drawings on page 8 as there is something quintessentially Plathian about the style… Especially if you have worked with her early diaries at the Lilly Library, her paper dolls, and read the wonderful Eye Rhymes: Sylvia Plath's Art of the Visual edited by Kathleen Connors and Sally Bayley (see particularly pages 46 and 66, and color plates 7 and 15). This issue is not in typical newspaper format but rather printed as mimeographed (photocopied) pages. Plath is listed as a contributor to the Art department along with two other students. This contribution has not been acknowledged or attributed previously in any bibliography. Mentioned on page 2 as member of Bradford staff in Features and Art departments.

7 June 1949
Mentioned on page 1, "Bradford Announces Incoming Editors", named a co-editor; includes photograph.

The first pages of each of the issues:

1 November 1948

16 December 1948

4 February 1949

28 March 1949

29 April 1949

7 June 1949
All links accessed 7 July 2016.

1 comment :

boston12855 said...

Fall 1972. I was a senior at Wellesley High, working after school at the Wellesley Super Market, right next to E. A. Davis's, and across the street from the old Wellesley Inn. One of the store's more loyal customers was Ariela Plath, who used to frequent the popular market, especially in the early evening. One Thursday night, I helped Mrs. Plath with her groceries and loaded up the back seat of her car with three or four brown paper bags of purchased items. "Shaun, how is everything at the high school?" she asked.

When I replied, "Fine, Mrs, Plath. We're getting ready for the annual Thanksgiving football game against Needham, and I am still writing for The Bradford."

"I well remember those days!" she exclaimed. "Please give Mr. Crockett my best regards."

"I will, Mrs. Plath."

While I conversed with Sylvia's mother on a number of occasions, this was the only time I disntinctly remembered the conversation.

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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.