20 September 2020

Organizing my Sylvia Plath Periodicals

This has been a strange year, no? I took advantage of the extended period that I at home in the spring and spent some time organizing some of my Sylvia Plath stuff. In particular, the magazines in which Plath published her verse and prose.

These were largely in order to begin with but the folders were unlabeled. Which made finding anything pretty frustrating. Now, they are labeled and in proper date order, with title of magazine, date, title of Plath's work, and page number. So I should be able to find anything I need in a jiffy. Above are larger format magazines; below are the smaller format journals.

If you are interested in seeing a more or less complete bibliography of Plath's publications, just go to A celebration, this is! Thanks and have a nice day.

All links accessed 18 April 2020.

11 September 2020

Sylvia Plath's copy of Samuel Beckett's Waiting For Godot

Sylvia Plath's copy of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot (London, Faber and Faber, 1956) is another of the books from her personal library held by Smith College and open for research. Her copy was the second impression, February 1956. Her ownership inscription on the front free endpaper reads, "Sylvia Plath, 1956".

The play debuted in London at the Arts Theatre on 3 August 1955 and shortly thereafter transferred to the Criterion Theatre, which is where Plath saw in on 20 September 1955, mere hours after landing at Southampton earlier in the day. Her pocket calendar, held by the Lilly Library that likely no seconds were wasted in exploring her new city and country:

Breakfast at 7 on board the ship; photographed in a group by Evening Standard; customs; train to London (Waterloo); bus to Regents Park; attended speeches and teas; dinner with Carl Shakin, her "shipboard romance"; and then Waiting for Godot.

In her 25 September 1955 letter to her mother, Plath says, "We’ve seen a magnificent and peculiar existentialist play about a man’s dilemma in the midst of nothingness" (Letters of Sylvia Plath, Volume 1, 960). Two days later she ranked the play the "best" she had seen to Gordon Lameyer (964). In all she mentioned the play six times in her letters, per the index.

Another of Plath's pocket calendars indicates she saw Waiting for Godot a second time, in Cambridge, with Ted Hughes, on 31 May 1956. She commented that it was "flatter than London".

Below is a table of page numbers and the kinds of annotations that appear on each page respectively. There are not many annotations to her copy but it is clear she bought it very soon after it was published and read it carefully.

 Annotation type (underline, star, marginal line, text)
Inscription by Sylvia Plath

All the books that we know Plath owned, read, used for papers, mentioned, etc. are catalogued on LibraryThing,.

All links accessed 31 July 2019.

01 September 2020

Footnoting the Letters of Sylvia Plath

One of the aspects of the footnotes of The Letters of Sylvia Plath that I most enjoyed was cross-referencing to letters to which Plath responded. There are very few instances where we have both sides of the letters--the most complete being the letters between Plath and Gordon Lameyer and Plath to Lynne Lawner. Periodically, Richard Norton and Eddie Cohen, to name but two, would quote Plath's words back to her in her letters which was always illuminating. Particularly as these original letters no longer appear to be extant.

My intention in doing this work in the footnotes was to help readers in pinpointing those letters to Plath in an archive; to save them time, perhaps. But overall, just to try to get anything relevant to the letter on the page. You will see them each at the bottom of the page, usually formatted the same in the attempt to be both consistent and predictable. For example,

"See Richard Norton to SP, 3 March 1953; held by Lilly Library."
"See Lynne Lawner to SP, 7 December 1958 and 21 January 1959; held by Lilly Library."
"See Alan Ross to SP, 12 October 1960; held by Smith College."

The rest is up to you if you want to see the correspondence Plath received.

Another aspect of trying to add value to the Letters, which I fear was done less consistently and comprehensively than ought to have been done, were cross-references to episodes or content that appear in Plath's journals. I can make excuses for the layers and levels of complexity that went into the construction and production to Plath's Letters but I do not believe anyone wants to read any moaning. (However, if anyone does want to know about it...) But, be that as it may, there are some cross-references to the Journals. For example,

"According to SP's journal, she mailed 'The Trouble-Making Mother' to the Saturday Evening Post by 25 July. Journals of Sylvia Plath: 290."
"The idea for 'Changeabout in Mrs Cherry's Kitchen' appeared in SP's journals on 4 January 1958; Journals of Sylvia Plath: 304. Published as 'Mrs. Cherry's Kitchen' in Sylvia Plath, Collected Children’s Stories (London: Faber & Faber, 2001)."

I hope this is helpful!

24 August 2020

More articles on Sylvia Plath's first suicide attempt

As I routinely do, I continue to search for articles on Sylvia Plath's first suicide attempt in August 1953. Earlier in the year, I found a number of new articles and these are all now on the bibliography page of Articles on her disappearance and recovery.

Articles were found in the following newspapers:

The Tampa Tribune (Tampa, Florida)
The Salt Lake Tribune (Salt Lake City, Utah)
Wilkes-Barre Record (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania)
The Birmingham News (Birmingham, Alabama)
The Miami Herald (Miami, Florida)
Intelligencer Journal (Lancaster, Pennsylvania)
Public Opinion (Chambersburg, Pennsylvania)
The Millville Daily Republican (Millville, New Jersey)
The York Dispatch (York, Pennsylvania)
Daily News (New York, New York)
The Tribune (Scranton, Pennsylvania)
Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wisconsin)
The Morning News (Wilmington, Delaware)
Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio)
St Josephs News Press Gazette (St. Joseph, Missouri)
Pittsburgh Sun Telegraph (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia)
The Windsor Star (Windsor, Ontario, Canada)
The Capital Times (Madison, Wisconsin)
The Morning Call (Paterson, New Jersey)
Rutland Daily Herald (Rutland, Vermont)
The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts)
The Bangor Daily News  (Bangor, Maine)
St. Albans Daily Messenger 
 (St. Albans, Vermont)
Burlington Daily News 
(Burlington, Vermont)
The Kansas City Star
(Kansas City, Missouri)

In total, there are now 306 articles.

And, did you see that? Go back and read through those titles and cities again...

The Windsor Star (Windsor, Ontario, Canada)!

This is the first article from another country! Sylvia Plath's disappearance was not just national news. It was international news. Confirmed. That is amazing.

All links accessed 13 July 2020.

15 August 2020

Letters of Sylvia Plath: A Footnote

When Sylvia Plath visited Richard Norton at the Ray Brook tuberculosis hospital in Saranac Lake, New York, after Christmas in December 1952, she broke her leg. During that visit, Plath met a Dr. William Sanford Lynn and his wife Mary Elisabeth Lynn. They had a young boy, William Sanford Lynn, III. Plath seemed to get on very well with the Lynn family.

A late decision I made in editing Plath's Letters was to include the letter excerpts that had appeared in Plath's journals. I felt that they would add a certain something to the book, particularly the many letter excerpts to Richard Sassoon. But, there were other letter excerpts to Eddie Cohen and Richard Norton. Including them all meant they would be annotated to the same standard that the rest of Plath's letters were.

Plath's letter excerpt from 8 March 1953 to Richard Norton is one such example and was done in reply to his three letters written on 4, 6, and 7 March. He had related how the Lynn's young boy Sandy had accidentally died. A notice of the death appeared on page one of the 6 March 1953 Adirondack Daily Enterprise.

This was an example of an emotionally difficult footnote to investigate.

All links accessed 5 August 2019.

01 August 2020

The Sylvia Plath Zoomposium III Now on YouTube

On Saturday, 25 July 2020, Gail Crowther and I hosted our third and final Sylvia Plath Zoomposium. The featured speakers were: Janet Badia, Marsha Bryant, Emmeline Downie, Olivia Foster, Gillian Groszewski, Natalie Hurt, Craig Johnson, Jeremy Lowenthal, and Laura McKenzie.

We are proud to announce that the recording is now available on the Sylvia Plath Info YouTube Channel. Please note Gillian Groszewski's presentation was removed.

We are grateful to all thirty total speakers for their generosity and willingness to prepare talks on such short notice, to help feel a sense of community during a strange period in our lives. And thank you, of course, to all the people that registered for and attended the events.

All links accessed 28 July and 1 August 2020.

22 July 2020

The Sylvia Plath Zoomposium III Schedule

The Sylvia Plath Zoomposium III, to be held Saturday, 25 July 2020, will start at 10 am NY Time (3 PM London time).

Gail Crowther and I thank you all so much for registering and for your attention throughout the hours you will spend in front of your computer or other device. The interest in these Zoom events has been so wonderful. Very warm.

The following shows the order of speakers. As with the first two Zomposiums, we will plan to start at 10 am EDT/3PM BST sharp and proceed straight through each speaker with no breaks.

The order of the speakers will be alphabetical by last name, so: Janet Badia, Marsha Bryant, Emmeline Downie, Olivia Foster, Gillian Groszewski, Natalie Hurt, Craig Johnson, Jeremy Lowenthal, and Laura McKenzie.

Interested in the event? Click here to see registration information.

All links accessed 21 July 2020.

19 July 2020

Sylvia Plath's Pod steklyannym kolpakom

If you know anything about me, it is that I enjoy foreign editions of Sylvia Plath's novel The Bell Jar. So recently I saw for sale a copy of the novel in Russian, a language I previously did not have, for a reasonable price.

You may be able to see some tape and label on the spine. This is an ex-library copy of the novel, withdrawn from circulation from the Boston Public Library. This particular edition dates from 2000.

Having a Russian edition makes me really happy given Esther Greenwood's envy of the Russian interpreter who knew so many idioms and her foray with Constantine.

This cover has been added to the Translations book cover page of A celebration, this is.

Here are the rest of my Bell Jars.

All links accessed 18 January 2019.

10 July 2020

Sylvia Plath's Postcards: 10 July 1961, Dordogne, France

The last picture postcard that we know Sylvia Plath sent went from the Dordogne, France, to her mother at 3 Chalcot Square, London.

Dated 10 July, Plath wrote the postcard which depicts "Montignac-sur-Vézère (Dordogne). Grotte de Lascaux" and send it from Saint-Céré, France, and was postmarked 12 July 1961. A subcaption on the card reads, "Diverticule (paroi droite): Vache rouge et premier des chevaux dits 'Chinois'." It was published by Serv. Commercial Monuments Historiques. Gd. Palais. Av. Alexandre III. Porte G. Paris. There are two stamps on the postcard. One for .25 Francs depicting a woman, designed by Posyes. And another for .05 Francs depicting the Coat of Arms of Oran (Algeria). Aurelia Plath added "Stars Over Dordogne" in blue pen in the top middle of the page.

Plath addressed the letter:
Mrs. A. S. PLATH
3 Chalcot Square
London N.W.1

Plath and Hughes were toward the end of their holiday and she reported in her letter that they were "eager" to get home.

The full text of the postcard appears on page 631 of The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Volume II, 1956-1963.

Here is a video from inside the cave.

All links accessed 7 August 2019 and 9 July 2020.

02 July 2020

Sylvia Plath's Postcards: 2 July 1961, Mont St. Michel, France

The second picture postcard Sylvia Plath sent to her mother from France, which is also the second to last one she sent that we know about, depicted "LE MONT SAINT-MICHEL (Manche) Ensemble Sud par Grande Marée."

Dated Sunday, 2 July 1961, the postmark was illegible because the cancellation stamp mostly did not cover the postage stamp. Thus, it is unclear on which day it was sent. It was published by Service Commercial Monuments Historiques Grand Palais -- Avenue Alexandre III -- Paris. The stamp was .50 Francs and depicted Tlemcen Grande Mosque. I believe it may have been designed by Pheulpin. The postcard is numbered "2" in pencil in the top right, just to the left of the stamp.

Plath reports they are at a "crêperie” in Douarnenez. Oddly, she spelled Frieda's name wrong, which is something I checked and re-checked dozens of times during the project.  Aurelia Plath annotated the postcard, translating "Grande Marée" into English, "high tide".

Plath addressed the postcard:

Mrs. A. S. Plath
c/o Hughes
3 Chalcot Square
Londres N.W.1

Plath reports they expected to be to the Merwins by the 5th of July and reminds her mother about her Living Poet programme on the BBC on Saturday the 8th.

The full text of the postcard appears on page 629 of The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Volume II, 1956-1963.
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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.
  • 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.
  • Plath, Sylvia, and Peter K. Steinberg and Karen V. Kukil (eds.). The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Volume 2, 1956-1963. London: Faber, 2018.
  • 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.