28 September 2007

Update: Schedule for the Sylvia Plath 75th Year Symposium

A more recent schedule was released on 29 September.

Sylvia Plath 75th Year Symposium Schedule
October 25-29th 2007 at Oxford University

27 September 2007

Sylvia Plath collections: subseries of the Kathryn Irene Glascock Poetry Prize records

In addition to the posting from 21 June, the Mount Holyoke Archives holds ten other items regarding Plath in the Kathryn Irene Glascock Poetry Prize records.

The ten items, which range in date from 1955 to 1959, are letters and poems that reflect her assocition with the Kathryn Irene Glascock Poetry Contest, held at Mount Holyoke College. Plath shared the victory in 1955 with William Key Whitman.

Title: Correspondence and poems, 1955-1959.Author(s): Plath, Sylvia.

Description: 10 items In: Kathryn Irene Glascock Poetry Prize records.

Abstract: Letters and poems reflecting her association with the Kathryn Irene Glascock Poetry Contest, Mount Holyoke College.

Permission to consult records less than fifty years old must be obtained from the Glascock Committee.

Forms part of: Kathryn Irene Glascock Poetry Prize records.

Organization: Arranged chronologically.

26 September 2007

Schedule update: Sylvia Plath 75th Year Symposium

An updated version of the schedule was issued on 28 September.

Below is the most recent schedule for the Sylvia Plath Symposium. An addition of note is Jillian Becker, author of Giving up: The last days of Sylvia Plath.

25 September 2007

Bibliography of authors participating in the Sylvia Plath 75th Year Symposium

Edited on 26 September. Anita Helle's The Unraveling Archive: essays on Sylvia Plat will not be on sale at the symposium. Please purchase copies in advance via your local independent bookshop, a larger chain store, or Amazon.com. Sorry for any confusion. - Peter

The Sylvia Plath 75th Year Symposium is just one month away! There will be a book signing, open to the public on Sunday 28 October, 2007. This event will take place at Rhodes, from 1300-1400. Below is a bibliography of books by authors participating in the symposium. I must stress that it is incomplete. For example, writers like A. Alvarez and Linda Wagner-Martin have published, between then, a "bookshelf full of books" to quote Plath.

I do not know at this point which books will be for sale during the symposium, the list below is just a sample of what might be there, or what people may wish to bring if they own copies already. Kathleen Connors and Sally Bayley's Eye Rhymes: Sylvia Plath's art of the visual is expected to be on sale on 25 October. I do apologize if there are authors presenting that are not listed here. Please email me or leave a comment if this is the case and I'll add you to the list.

Bibliography of authors participating in the Sylvia Plath 75th Year Symposium

Alvarez, A. 1968. Beyond all this fiddle : essays, 1955-1967. London, Allen Lane, Penguin P.
---. 1971. The savage god : A study of suicide. London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson.
---. 1974. Hers : a novel. London : Weidenfeld and Nicolson.
---. 1981. Life after marriage : Love in the age of divorce. New York : Simon and Schuster.
---. 1999. Where did it all go right? London : Richard Cohen Books.
---. 2005. The writer's voice. New York : W. W. Norton.

Axelrod, Steven Gould. 1990. Sylvia Plath : The would and the cure for words. Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press.

Becker, Jillian. 2003. Giving up: the last days of Sylvia Plath. New York: St. Martin's Press. (added 3 October 2007)

Bowman, Catherine. 1993. 1-800-HOT-RIBS : poems. Layton, Utah : Gibbs Smith.
---. 1996. Rock farm. Salt Lake City : Gibbs Smith.
---. 2006. Notarikon. New York : Four Way Books.

Brain, Tracy. 2001. The other Sylvia Plath. Harlow, England : Longman.

Britzolakis, Christina. 1999. Sylvia Plath and the theatre of mourning. Oxford : Clarendon Press.

Bundzten, Lynda K. 1983. Plath's incarnations. Ann Arbor : University of Michigan Press.
---. 2001. The other Ariel. Amherst, Mass. : University of Massachusetts Press.

Christodoulides, Nephie. 2005. Out of the cradle endlessly rocking : Motherhood in Sylvia Plath's work. New York : Rodopi.

Churchwell, Sarah. 2004. The many lives of Marilyn Monroe. New York : Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt.

Connell, Elaine. 1993. Sylvia Plath : Killing the angel in the house. Hebden Bridge. : Pennine Pens.

Connors, Kathleen and Sally Bayley., eds. 2007. Eye rhymes: Sylvia Plath's art of the visual. Oxford : Oxford University Press.

Egeland, Marianne. 1997. Sylvia Plath. Oslo : Gyldendal.

Gill, Jo., ed. 2006. The Cambridge companion to Sylvia Plath. Cambridge, U.K. : Cambridge University Press.

Hammer, Langdon, ed. 2006. Hart Crane: Complete Poetry and Selected Letters. New York : Library of America.
---. 1993. Hart Crane and Allen Tate: Janus-Faced Modernism. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Helle, Anita., ed. 2007. The unraveling archive : Essays on Sylvia Plath. Ann Arbor : University of Michigan Press.

Hurdle, Crystal. 2003. After Ted & Sylvia. Vancouver, B.C. : Ronsdale Press

Kendall, Tim. 2001. Sylvia Plath : A critical study. London : Faber and Faber.

Kroll. Judith. 1976. Chapters in a mythology : The poetry of Sylvia Plath. New York : Harper & Row.

Kukil, Karen V., ed. 2000. The Journals of Sylvia Plath, 1950-1962. London: Faber and Faber.

Larschan, Richard J. 1986. The diagnosis is cancer : a psychological and legal resource handbook for cancer patients, their families, and helping professionals. Palo Alto, CA : Bull Pub. Co.

Middlebrook, Diane. 2003. Her husband : Hughes and Plath -- a marriage. New York : Viking.

Norris, Pamela. 2006. Words of love : Passionate women from Heloise to Sylvia Plath. New York : HarperCollins Publishers.

Peel, Robin. 2002. Sylvia Plath and Cold War politics. Madison, N. J. : Fairleigh Dickinson University Press.

Steinberg, Peter K. 2004. Sylvia Plath. Philadelphia : Chelsea House Publishers.

Stevenson, Anne. 1989. Bitter Fame: A life of Sylvia Plath. Boston : Houghton Mifflin.

Wagner-Martin, Linda., ed. 1984. Critical essays on Sylvia Plath. Boston : G. K. Hall.
---. 1987. Sylvia Plath: A biography. New York : Simon and Schuster.
---., ed. 1988. Sylvia Plath, the critical heritage. London : Routledge.
---. 1992. The bell jar, a novel of the fifties. New York : Maxwell Macmillan International.
---. 1999. Sylvia Plath--a literary life. New York : St. Martin's Press
---. 2003. Sylvia Plath : a literary life. New York : Palgrave Macmillan.

24 September 2007

Schedule Update: Sylvia Plath 75th Year Symposium

An updated version of the scheduled was issued on 26 September.

Below is the most recent schedule for the Sylvia Plath 75th Year Symposium.

Sylvia Plath: Did you know...

The two images to the below are of the last two stanzas in Sylvia Plath's poem "Point Shirley" which appeared in her first collection of poetry, The Colossus and other poems. The Colossus and other poems, like The Bell Jar, has three different first editions. There is the Heinemann edition of October 1960; the Knopf edition of May 1962; and the Faber edition of 1967. The monetary value of each declines with each subsequent publisher making the Heinemann both highly desirable and expensive, and the Faber edition less desirable and less expensive. Ariel, Crossing the Water, Winter Trees, and other later Plath books (excepting the abridged Journals) were exclusively published by Faber in England and Harper & Row (HarperCollins) in the America.

The top image is from the first Knopf edition; the bottom is from the first Faber edition. Can you find the difference?

The typographical error is almost unnoticeable. I've read the poem dozens of times but only just noticed it last night. Plath's own recording makes her intention clear. Tracy Brain and others have written on the typographical variations present in the individual collections and collected poems of Sylvia Plath. See Brain's The Other Sylvia Plath (Longman: 2001) and essay "Unstable Manuscripts" in Anita Helle's The Unraveling Archive: essays on Sylvia Plath (University of Michigan Press: 2007)

22 September 2007

Sylvia Plath 75th Year Symposium schedule update

An updated version of the scheduled was issued on 24 September.

The below update represents the most recent schedule for the Sylvia Plath 75th Year Symposium..

21 September 2007

Sylvia Plath collections: Letters, 1957-1962

As an addendum to my 15 August 2007 post, the Lilly Library at Indiana University, Bloomington, holds a collection of letters from Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes to Gerald Hughes.

Letters, 1957-1962.

Consists of letters from poets Ted Hughes and his wife Sylvia Plath to Hughes's brother and sister-in-law, Gerald and Joan Hughes, in Australia. Topics discussed include writing projects and general day to day activities. The August 1958 letter, written from America, includes a typed copy of the poem "Pennies in April" by Ted Hughes.

Held at the Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington Indiana.

I apologize for neglecting to have this on the initial post regarding letters to Gerald Hughes.

20 September 2007

Light Blue, Dark Blue auction over!

The auction of a rare, signed Sylvia Plath/Ted Hughes book Light Blue, Dark Blue: An anthology of Cambridge and Oxford writing is over. Someone bid $14,000 to "buy it now". The winner of the auction, with a zero for feedback, was "buyers-beware-fake-signatures-for-sale". The seller had a large number of supposedly rare, supposedly signed first editions of inherited books. Perhaps this is a previous winner who was disappointed with the item?

Having worked with Plath's papers, their is some inconsistency in the Sylvia and the Plath. The pen stoke is much thicker and smaller for Plath's last name. As well, the Hughes in Ted's signature doesn't much look like Ted's signature to me.

In the provenance information, there was no mention of how Peter Levi obtained Plath's signature. I have never heard of Levi and Plath meeting in my Plath studies...We'll see...

18 September 2007

Sylvia Plath on the wall

There are about four limited edition broadsides of Sylvia Plath's work. If you buy any and want it framed, please spend the money to have archival quality materials used that will not damage the item.

  • Ariel and Morning Song - 1971

  • Among the Narcissi - 1971 - Ashington, Northumberland: MidNAG [Mid-Northumberland Arts Group], n.d., 16.5 x 23.5 inches, 300 copies

  • Child - London Underground - Poems on the Underground- 1992

  • Pigeon Post - Small broadside of a previously unpublished poem by Plath. No copies were offered for sale. 1993. (3 copies on WorldCat)

Among the Narcissi is a lovely poem, and an even lovelier broadside. Currently, there are two copies of Among the Narcissi for sale via abebooks.com. It is an extremely lovely work (see picture).

Ariel and Morning Song is quite rare; In the last ten years, I have seen only one copy for sale. There are no records in WorldCat that suggest any libraries hold it. The broadside is dark, the poems barely readable, and the image on it is of a woman curled into a fetal position.

Any rider of the London Underground should be familiar with their series Poems on the Underground. According to WorldCat, they released a limited number of Plath's poem "Child" for sale. This broadside is wider than it is tall and features the London Underground symbol and the poem only. It is a fine poem to read whilst on the underground.

Pigeon Post was new to me. The University of Chicago, Princeton University and Cambridge University all list that they hold this work. It would be very nice to see this, and also to read this unpublished poem. If anyone knows when Plath wrote, please post to the comments.

17 September 2007

Sylvia Plath collections: Letters to Assia Wevill, 1955-1970

Emory University made news in 1998 when it purchased the papers of Ted Hughes. Since that time, only one accretion made the headlines. On 8 January 2007, Emory announced the acquisition of letters from Ted Hughes to Assia Wevill in this press release.

Many archives acquire important letters and those letters go straight to the back of the queue. However, the Manuscripts, Archives, and Rare Books Library processed this collection quickly. Lucky for us! One of the letters from Ted to Assia's sister Cecilia Chaikin, deals with the return of some stolen Plath manuscripts. I wonder if these are listed and which archive they reside in now?

Letters to Assia Wevill, 1955-1970

The collection contains letters, manuscripts, poems, drawings, photographs, and miscellaneous documents relating to Ted Hughes and Assia Wevill. Included are 61 letters from Hughes to Wevill; included with the letters are drafts for a series of poems on playing cards and a "Draft Constitution," which appears to be an agreement between Ted and Assia concerning her responsibilities towards his children, her household duties, and general behavior. The collection also includes six letters from Assia Wevill to Ted Hughes; one early (1955) letter from Wevill to her sister, Cecilia Chaikin; and three letters from Ted Hughes to Chaikin written after Assia's death. The first two deal with his response to Assia's suicide, while the third responds to Celia's offer to return a number of Plath's manuscripts, which had been sent to her by Assia. Finally, the correspondence contains two letters from David Wevill to Assia, and one letter from Assia to him.

The remainder of the collection consists of a number of manuscript and typescript drafts of Hughes's poems; eight miscellaneous pieces of notes and letters by Assia, addressed obliquely to Hughes; and a number of photographs of Assia Wevill, both alone and with Hughes, Shura, Frieda, and Nicholas. One of the typescripts, which bears the title "For Aya," represents a preliminary version, in four parts, of the longer sequence of poems published as "The New World", while another poem, "Little Blood," contains an extra stanza omitted in publication. Other typescripts include variant titles, and one bears additional manuscript material on its reverse side. Two of the poems, "Crow Outlawed" and "Carrion Tiresias Examines the Sacrifice," appear to be unpublished.

The collection is held in one box. The full finding aid to this collection is online here.

If anyone out there has worked with these letters, we'd all be curious to know your impressions.
New information about Assia Wevill, Ted Hughes, and Plath, please see Eilat Negev and Yehuda Koren's remarkable biography, A lover of unreason: Assia Wevill, Sylvia Plath's rival and Ted Hughes' doomed love, available at fine book stores worldwide, online, and through libraries.

Photograph of Assia Wevill above from Emory's web site.

16 September 2007

Rare signed Sylvia Plath & Ted Hughes for sale on eBay

A very rare book is for sale via eBay. The book, Light Blue, Dark Blue - An anthology of Cambridge and Oxford writing (1960), is signed by both Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, though clearly the book was signed at different times.

The seller should have placed Plath's and Hughes's full names in the title, increasing its visibility. As with anything purchased on eBay, the authenticity of the item is extremely crucial.

Image of item taken from the auction.

15 September 2007

Stores are selling The Unraveling Archive : essays on Sylvia Plath

The Harvard Book Store and other fine bookstores across the nation are now selling The Unraveling Archive : essays on Sylvia Plath edited by Anita Helle, Associate Professor of English at Oregon State University.

14 September 2007

Sylvia Plath collections: Beinecke Library, Yale

The Beinecke Library at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, has some archival Sylvia Plath materials. They hold manuscript poems for Plath's "Hear the crickets chirping...:" and "I saw a little birdie...". From the record, both are dated 16 May 1941.

Both poem manuscripts have scansion marks and feet; annotated by Aurelia Plath, on verso of Boston University stationery. Written by the author when she was 8 years old, these irresistible juvenilia artifacts complement other items in the collection of Betsy Beinecke Shirley.

The Beinecke acquired the manuscripts in 2003, however, I found no other information about them.

Click here to read the acquisition information about these items.

The homepage for the Beinecke is here.

13 September 2007

Above Heptonstall

The power of Google! The above image is an satellite view using Google maps of Heptonstall, England, where one can find the grave of Sylvia Plath.

Plath's grave is in the approximate area of the red box.

12 September 2007

Sylvia Plath collections: Archives of Turret Books & Turret Press Collection

The University of Maryland at College Park holds the following two collections:

Archives of Turret Books, 1965-1975
Turret Press Collection, 1965-1975

Turret printed two limited editions by Plath. Uncollected Poems, 1965, appeared in a limited edition of 150 copies. It printed a facsimile of Plath's poem "Thalidomide", originally titled "Half-Moon". They printed Three Women: A monologue for three voices, in 1968. The edition was limited to 150 copies and features an introduction by Douglas Cleverdon. The frontispiece and initial linocuts were designed, engraved and printed from original blocks by Stanislaw Gilwa. Limited edition of 180 numbered copies printed from Monotype Bembo type on T.H. Saunders, mould made, wove paper. Privately printed at Oficyna Stanislawa Gliwy.

From the UM web site: "Turret Press was a small press located in London, England. Founded in 1965, it specialized in publishing a limited edition series of booklets of contemporary poets. Turret Press also participated in sponsoring various festivals and exhibitions. The following served as directors of the small publishing: Edward Lucie-Smith, Bernard Stone, and George Rapp. Turret Press went out of business in 1975 as a result of financial difficulties."

Authors whose books Turret printed includes Barry Cole; Lawrence Durrell; Edward Lucie-Smith; Allen Ginsberg; George MacBeth; Sylvia Plath; Dylan Thomas; Bernard Stone; Georg Rapp; Christopher Logue; and Jonathan Williams.

The collection holds correspondence, publications, poetry manuscripts, proofs for publication, posters, newspaper clippings, financial records, and artwork documenting the operation and output of Turret Books.

Significant figures represented in the collection include Barry Cole, Lawrence Durrell, Edward Lucie-Smith, Allen Ginsberg, George MacBeth, Sylvia Plath, Dylan Thomas, Bernard Stone, Georg Rapp, Christopher Logue, and Jonathan Williams.

The collection is organized into three series:
1. Office
2. Exhibitions, Festivals, and Organizations
3. and Publication Materials.

Unpublished guide available. Contact information:

Archives and Manuscripts Department, University of Maryland Libraries, Hornbake Library, College Park, MD 20742. Tel: 301-405-9058, Fax: 301-314-2709, Email: archives-um@umd.edu

The web site for the Special Collections is online here.

11 September 2007

Review of Alexander's "Edge"

The following review "Quite a touch of the poet" is by Frank Sheck and appears online from the New York Post.

September 11, 2007 -- FEW performers inhabit their characters with the intensity with which Angelica Torn plays Sylvia Plath in "Edge."

Paul Alexander's one-woman show provides this superb actress with a galvanizing showcase as the poet who ended her life at age 30, with her children in the next room.

Though "Edge" offers plenty of biographical detail, it's more of a psychoanalytic examination of its subject than a history. Set on the day of Plath's death, it begins with the haunting image of the writer sitting at her desk composing a suicide note, followed by an explanation of the events that led to her decision.

In the playwright's view, much of the blame lies with Plath's husband, fellow poet Ted Hughes, who left her for another woman. Fittingly, Plath spends much of the monologue venting her spleen, her obsessive love and erotic fervor for Hughes made vividly clear.

The piece itself isn't altogether successful. Clocking in at over two hours, it's as draining for the audience as it must be for its performer.

Not that you would know it from watching Torn, whose mesmerizing portrayal brings to mind her mother, Geraldine Page. (Her father, as you may have guessed, is Rip Torn.)

She delivers her words in a rushed, stream-of-consciousness style, as if Plath's emotions were too powerful to be contained, and doesn't shy from humor, however uncomfortable.

"I want to say this about razor blades," Plath says of her first suicide attempt. "They hurt."

Sadly, "Edge" doesn't include examples of Plath's poetry - apparently there are copyright issues - and there are times when it loses focus. But it manages, thanks to its gifted star, to bring to life a figure who's too often been reduced to a literary cliché.


ArcLight Theatre, 152 W. 71st St.; (212) 352-3101. Through Oct. 6.

10 September 2007

Sylvia Plath's summer jobs

Sylvia Plath had a number of summer jobs throughout college, the most notable being her Mademoiselle internship in the summer of 1953. Since the summer is now over, and many students are back in school, the topic seems appropriate. Plath wrote at length about her experiences during the summer; these details appear mostly in the Unabrdiged Journals of Sylvia Plath (edited by Karen V. Kukil, Anchor Books, 2000).

Plath's earlier journals, from 1944 to 1949, are held at the Lilly Library at Indiana University. These journals should be published to give a fuller view of what Plath's life was life in her early to mid teens. Plath spent her summers from around 1943 until 1949 at summer camps in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and on Martha's Vineyard.

In 1950, the summer prior to her freshman year at Smith College, Plath worked on Lookout Farm in Dover, Mass. Plath wrote about this in "Memoirs of a Spinach-Picker", a poem written in 1958. This poem appears in the Christian Science Monitor, Dec. 29, 1959. The farm has changed hands several times over the years, but they are in the modern era, as evident by their web site. There are some memorable stories captured in the first pages of Plath's journals, most notably "the kiss" that took place in the barn. Plath's ninth entry retells the story of "the kiss". She admits to her journal,

Some things are hard to write about. After something happens to you, you go to write it down, and either you over dramatize it or underplay it, exaggerate the wrong parts or ignore the important ones. At any rate, you never write it quite the way you want to. I've got to put down what happened to me this afternoon…no mattter how it comes out, I have to write it. (Unabridged Journals, 10)

She looked at these summer jobs as income, but also experience. She dedicated herself to this. So her journals offer information that, on the one hand captures true events, but on the other hand, often over dramatizes, underplays, exaggerates, or ignores these events.

In 1951, Plath and her friend Marcia Brown were live-in nannies in Swampscott, Massachusetts. Plath worked for the Mayo family at 141 Beach Bluff Avenue, and also detailed this experience in her journals. Plath's poem "The Babysitters" recalls that summer, and in particular a day trip by row boat to Children's Island, off Marblehead. The year that passed from "the kiss" led Plath to seek more life experiences, and to capture more. Her 102nd entry is a very good one and further explains her goals in keeping a journal. She writes,

I wonder why I don't go to bed and go to sleep. But then it would be tomorrow, so I decide that no matter how tired, no matter how incoherent I am, I can skip one hour more of sleep and live. If I did not have this time to be myself, to write here, to be alone, I would somehow, inexplicably, lose a part of my integrity. As it is, what I have written here so far is rather poor, rather unsatisfactory. It is the product of an unimaginative girl, preoccupied with herself, and continually splashing about in the shallow waters of her own narrow psyche. As an excuse, she claims thses are writing exercises, a means of practice at expressing herself, of note taking for future stories…In fact, if one has not the imagination to create characters, to knit plots, it does no good to jot down fragments of life and conversations, for alone they are disjointed and meaningless. It is only when these bits are woven into an artistic whole, with a frame of reference, that they become meaning-ful and worthy of more than a cursory glance. Therefore, think and work, think and work. (Unabridged Journals, p. 83)

Plath's summer of 1952 was more turbulent. She began working as a waitress at The Belmont hotel in West Harwich, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod. Inexperienced, she was put on the side employees dining room and therefore, was not earning much in the way of income from tips. She did lead a very active social life and came down with a bad sinus infection. By 11 July, she convalesced at home in Wellesley. Around this time, she also received word that her story, "Sunday at the Mintons" won the 1952 Mademoiselle College fiction contest, netting her $500. She received a letter from the editor-in-chief at Knopf, who had seen a proof of her story, telling her they they'd like to publish a novel by her one day. (In 1962, Plath sent them The Bell Jar, which they rejected.) She decided not to return to the Belmont.

Not wanting to spend her time at home, she did actively look for a job. On 10 July, she read the following adverstisement (pictured at top) in the Christian Science Monitor. "COLLEGE-AGE GIRL for Mother's helper for balance of summer. Neat, intelligent, and of pleasant disposition. Refs. exch. Salary arr. Box 546. Chatham, Mass. Tel. Chatham 493-J." She spent the rest of the summer in Chatham working for the Cantor family, taking care of their children. The Cantor's challenged Plath with their religion and they had "deep" conversations about this and philosophy.

In 1954, Plath attended Harvard Summer School in Cambridge, Mass. She lived in apartment 4 of the Bay State apartment complex at 1572 Massachusetts Avenue. Nancy Hunter-Steiner recounts that summer, and other memories, in her 1973 book A Closer Look at Ariel: A Memory of Sylvia Plath. It was this summer when Plath was "injured" having sex, though she changed the timing and season, even, when she fictionalized the account it in The Bell Jar. There are no known journal entries from this summer.

09 September 2007

Schedule Updated for the Sylvia Plath 75th Year Symposium

Another new schedule is now available for the Symposium. Please check this against previous schedules to be sure you know when you are presenting/participating.

Sylvia Plath 75th Year Symposium Schedule
October 25-29th 2007 at Oxford University

Thursday, 25 Oct

All-day registration, Rhodes House

Continental breakfast, Rhodes House

Opening, Rhodes Milner Room

Literary panel, small Rothermere ~ ‘The Bee Poems’: Bethany Hicok, Georgiana Banita

Literary panel, Rhodes Milner ~ ‘Plath and Pathology’: Elana Ciobanu, Mary DeShazer, Ralph Didlake, Deborah Phelps

Literary panel, large Rothermere ~ ‘Expressing Struggle and Pain’: Beth Martinelli, Pamela Ryan, Ghanim Samarrai, Isabella Wai

Literary panel, Rhodes Beit ~ ‘Plath, Sexton and the Literary Market’: Jo Gill, Mel Waters, Luke Ferretter

Welcome lunch, Rhodes

Featured artists exhibition talk, painter Kristina Zimbakova and printmaker Cassandra Sloan, Oxford Playhouse

Guest speaker Nick Owen, Rhodes Beit ~ ‘Roots of Creativity and Destructiveness in Plath’

Literary panel, small Rothermere ~ ‘Plath Family Romance’: Susan Bowers, Kara Kilfoil, Aubrey Menard, Ann Walsh, Kristy Woodcock

Literary panel, Rhodes Milner ~ ‘Plath in Comparison’: Abdolmajid Eskandari, Hilary Holladay, Adrianne Kalfopoulou, Gary Leising, Anastasia Logotheti, Barbara Mossberg

Literary panel, large Rothermere ~ ‘Plath Parallels with Turkish and Indian Women Writers’:
Majid Avali, Sibel Guzel, Nadide Karkimer, Leyli Jamali, Raja Sekhar, Omid Varzandeh

Guest speakers Marianne Egeland and Pamela Norris, Rhodes Beit ~ ‘Plath in Print’;
‘Writing the life as fiction: Sylvia Plath and the Problem of Biography’

Featured speakers Helle and Larschan, Rhodes Milner
Helle ~ ‘“The Photographic Chamber of the Eye”: Plath, Photography and the Post-Confessional Muse’
Larschan ~ ‘ “What Mightn’t the Sea Bequeath?”: Plath’s Mythical Massachusetts’

Wine reception at Divinity School, Bodleain Library exhibition of Plath’s small press books

Reception and poetry reading at Blackwell’s Bookshop (P)

Featured playwright Elisabeth Gray’s play ‘Wish I Had a Sylvia Plath’, Pilch Theatre (P)

Rothermere Library exhibition of Enid Mark’s ‘About Sylvia’ book of illustrated poems

Friday, 26 Oct

All-day registration, Rhodes House

Continental breakfast, Rhodes House

Forum, Rhodes Milner ~ ‘Plath Profiles on-line journal 1’: Bill Buckley, Mary Nolan

Featured speakers Lynda K. Bundtzen and Tim Kendall, Rhodes Milner
Bundtzen ~ ‘Confession, Contrition, and Concealment in Ted Hughes’s Howls and Whispers’
Kendall ~ ‘Sylvia Plath and the Purpose of Poetry’

Lunch, Rhodes

Literary panel, large Rothermere ~ ‘Plath and Hughes Manuscripts Verso’: Helen Decker, Emma Hoare, Uta Gosmann

Literary panel, small Rothermere ~ ‘Plath’s Influence on International Writers’: Fan Jinghua,
Maria Johnston, Malin Pereira

Literary panel, Rhodes Milner ~ ‘Plath, Motherhood and Marriage’: Annie Finch, Katherine Keenan, Sondra Swedborg

Exhibition tour/talk, Oxford Playhouse

Guest speaker Sarah Churchwell, Rhodes Beit

Featured speakers Steven Gould Axelrod and Linda Wagner-Martin, Rhodes Milner
Axelrod ~ ‘Plath and Torture’
Wagner-Martin ~ ‘All Those Years in the Archives: A Life with Sylvia Plath’

Literary panel, small Rothermere ~ ‘“Lady Lazarus” and Suicide’: Nadia Boudidah Falfoul, Marcia Elis de Lima Francoso, Kamran Javadizadeh, Stephanie Roush

Literary panel, Rhodes Beit ~ ‘Plath in Popular and Cold War Culture’: Joan Dargan, Erik Mortenson, Patrick O’Connor, Cornelia Pearsall, Nicola Presley

Literary panel, large Rothermere ~ ‘The Bell Jar’: Ozlem Gorumlu, Esin Kumlu, Elaine Pigeon, Janet Stallard

Literary panel, Rhodes Milner ~ ‘Plath and Hughes Dialogue’: Heather Clark, Diana Conzett,
Janne Stigen Drangsholt, Diane Hunter, Terry Hunter

Suzie Hanna’s introduction to animation ‘The Girl Who Would be God’, Oxford Playhouse

Hanna/Simmons animation and Lahire films ‘Edge’, ‘Lady Lazarus’ and ‘Johnny Panic’, Top Room, Oxford Playhouse

Sarah Purcell’s introduction to Sandra Lahire films ‘Edge’, ‘Lady Lazarus’ and ‘Johnny Panic’, Top Room, Oxford Playhouse (P)

Lahire films, Hanna/Simmons animation, Top Room, Oxford Playhouse (P)

Barbara Mossberg’s introduction to Elisabeth Gray’s play, Pilch Theatre (P)

Gray’s play, ‘I Wish I Had a Sylvia Plath’, Pilch Theatre, Oxford (P)

Rothermere Library exhibition of Enid Mark’s ‘About Sylvia’ book of illustrated poems

Saturday, 27 Oct

All-day registration, Rhodes House

Continental breakfast, Rhodes House

Forum, Rhodes Milner ~ ‘Plath archives at Smith, Lilly & Emory’

Featured speakers Karen Kukil and Robin Peel, Rhodes Milner
Kukil ~ ‘Sylvia Plath’s Women’
Peel ~ ‘Sylvia Plath, Emily Dickinson, and Publication’

Lahire and Hanna/Simmons animation, Top Room, Oxford Playhouse (P)

Lunch, Rhodes

Featured speakers Anne Stevenson/Martin Schaetzle and Britzolakis, Rhodes Milner
Stevenson/Schaetzle ~ ‘Sylvia Plath and Ruth Beuscher’
Britzolakis ~ ‘Plath’s Dreamwork’

Featured photographer Linda Adele Goodine and featured fiber artist Ann Dingsdale,
Rhodes Milner

Guest speakers Francis McCullough and Jonathan Ellis, large Rothermere ~
‘Editing Plath’

Featured and Guest poets Catherine Bowman and Crystal Hurdle, small Rothermere

Guest artist Amanda Robins and Siall Waterbright, Rhodes Beit ~
‘Sylvia Plath as Artistic Inspiration’

Literary panel, large Rothermere ~ ‘Images of Plath’: Annika Hagström, Allyson Hyland, Philippa Hawker, Gail Crowther

Literary panel, Rhodes Milner ~ ‘Plath and Female/feminist Identity’: Janet Badia, Christina Belcher, Patricia Grisafi, Jessica McCort, Dorothy Wang

Literary panel, Rhodes Beit ~ ‘Plath and Pedagogy’: Amanda Golden, Eusebio de Lorenzo Gomez, Kate Gray, Jason Lee

Elisabeth Gray’s play ‘I Wish I Had a Sylvia Plath’, Pilch Theatre, Oxford (P)

Rothermere Library exhibition of Enid Mark’s ‘About Sylvia’ book of illustrated poems

Sunday, 28 Oct

All-day registration, Rhodes House

Continental breakfast, Rhodes House

Forum, Rhodes Milner ~ ‘Sylvia Plath Websites’: Elaine Connell, Peter K. Steinberg

Featured speakers Tracy Brain and Langdon Hammer, Rhodes Milner
Brain ~ ‘Representing Sylvia Plath’
Hammer ~ ‘Plath’s German’

Lunch, Rhodes

Book signing, Rhodes (P)

Featured speakers A. Alvarez and Diane Middlebrook, Rhodes Milner
Alvarez ~ ‘My friendship with Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes’
Middlebrook ~ ‘Call and Response in the Poetry of Plath and Hughes’

Literary panel, Rhodes Beit ~ ‘Ariel’: Smita Agrawal, Bora Im, Chloe Stopa-Hunt,
Jennifer Ryan

Literary panel, small Rothermere ~ ‘Plath’s story “The Perfect Place”’: Irralie Doel,
Lena Friesen, Peter K. Steinberg

Guest speaker Judith Kroll, Rhodes Milner

Oxford Playhouse reception

Oxford Playhouse performance (P)

Monday, 29 Oct
Panels are free and open to the public this day

Continental breakfast, Rhodes House

Forum, Rhodes Milner ~ ‘Plath Profiles on-line journal 2’: Bill Buckley, Mary Nolan

Literary panel, large Rothermere ~ ‘Plath’s Prose’: Ipsita Bhattacharyya, Laure De Nevraux

Literary panel, Rhodes Beit ~ ‘Plath’s Landscapes’: Katherine Hazzard, Bajrang Korde, David Troupes

Literary panel, Rhodes Milner ~ ‘Plath as Visionary’: Liz Beasley, Bill Buckley, Anne Dillon, Anaya Ghoshal, Nephie Christodoulides

Poetry panel, small Rothermere

Closing, Rhodes Milner

Lunch at local pub

08 September 2007

Updated schedule for Sylvia Plath 75th Year Symposium

This schedule is no longer valid. Please see the schedule posted on 9 September.

Sylvia Plath 75th Year Symposium Schedule
October 25-29th 2007 at Oxford University

07 September 2007

Schedule update: Sylvia Plath 75th Year Symposium

This schedule is no longer valid, although, the concert is still cancelled.

Due to the cancelling of the Alanis Morrisette concert originally planned for Saturday 27 October, a new schedule is available.

06 September 2007

Sylvia Plath collections: Letters to Ben Sonnenberg, 1961-2000

The letters to Ben Sonnenberg, a subseries of the Ted Hughes papers held at Emory University features some interesting correspondence. As one would expect, Sylvia Plath is a named person.

Letters to Ben Sonnenberg, 1961-2000

This collection contains 38 letters written to Ben Sonnenberg, including 30 written by Ted Hughes (the other letters are from Olwyn Hughes and Carol Hughes.) The earliest letter is from 1961, shortly after Hughes and Sylvia Plath had purchased their home, Court Green. The 12 letters from the 1960s combine news of family life (particularly of the Hughes children, Frieda and Nicholas) with information about writing and publishing. Hughes comments in detail about Sonnenberg's writing, which Sonnenberg sent to him for input. Also in these letters, Hughes solicits and receives funding from Sonnenberg for the magazine Modern Poetry in Translation, which he began with Daniel Weissbort in 1965. The letters from the later 1960s comment obliquely on the personal upheavels in Hughes's personal life, and he also provides some detailed personal insight into the composition of the poems later published in Crow.

The three letters from the early 1970s continue Hughes's commentary about Crow, and they also describe some of his other writing projects from that time. The 1972 letter also mentions news of his marriage to Carol Orchard in 1970. The five letters from the 1980s have a more businesslike tone. The letters from 1988-89 include a detailed explication of what Hughes calls "Sylvia's Myth" - his understanding of her poetry - including a photocopy of an early draft of "Sheep in Fog" published as an essay in Winter Pollen (1994.) The 10 letters from the 1990s include Hughes's personal reminiscences of the beginnings of his friendship with Sonnenberg, prompted by the publication of Sonnenberg's autobiography in 1991. Hughes also comments extensively on the ideas expressed in - and the critical reaction to Shakespeare and the Goddess of Complete Being. In the letters from the mid-to-late 1990s, Hughes again offers commentary on Sonnenberg's writing, and he also expresses his own current interest in drama. The three final letters from Ted Hughes, all written in 1998, appear to be in response to Sonnenberg's concern about Hughes's illness, and they also indicate that Hughes was sending Sonnenberg various volumes of his poetry.

Two of the five letters from Olwyn Hughes are business correspondence written to Sonnenberg in 1965. Two of the three later letters express her grief over Hughes's death, and her reaction to his memorial service. The three letters from Carol Hughes are from 1999-2000. They express her thanks for Sonnenberg's expression of sympathy, and they also describe several photographs (not included) of Hughes which she sent to Sonnenberg. The final letter, from April 2000, mentions the opening of the Hughes archive at Emory.

1 box. The full finding aid to this collection is online here.

100,000 and counting

Today, my web site for Sylvia Plath, A celebration, this is, hit a milestone. 100,000 visitors! Thank you to all the visitors to the web site, I appreciate your interest!

05 September 2007

Sylvia Plath event: Beyond the Bell Jar: Rediscovering the Poetry of Sylvia Plath

Christopher Hitt posted the following on the Sylvia Plath Forum (www.sylviaplathforum.com).

"For those who live in the Seattle area (or who would be willing to travel here), I would like to announce a two-day course on Plath's poetry to be held at the Richard Hugo House, Seattle's center for literature, literacy, and the arts. The class will take place from 1 to 5 p.m. on consecutive Saturdays, October 27 and November 3. The class is open to the public, but please note there is a registration fee of $160 (or $140 for Hugo House members).

"The title of the course is "Beyond the Bell Jar: Rediscovering the Poetry of Sylvia Plath." You can get more information by going to their website and scrolling down. Or you can feel free to email him with any questions you might have..."

04 September 2007

Sylvia Plath collections: BBC's Third Programme

Emory University holds some important radio scripts for works read for the BBC's famous Third Programme. These papers form a part of The Raymond Danowski Poetry Library.

The script for Plath's verse poem, "Three Women", which aired on 19 August 1962, is in Box 1, Folder 14.

Also held are two scripts for works by Ted Hughes. In Box 1, Folder 16, "Difficulties of a Bridegroom", which aired on 9 Feburary 1963 and in Box 1, Folder 22, "Dogs" which aired just over a year later, on 12 Feburary 1964. Third Programme radio scripts, 1949-1978 (bulk 1959-1968)

The collection is held in two boxes.

From the scope and content note:

The collection contains thirty-six typescripts for the British Broadcasting Corporation's Third Programme, dating from 1949 to 1978; however, the majority of the typescripts date from the 1960s. The collection is comprised of numerous works by Dylan Thomas, including multiple versions of "Under Milk Wood," as well as typescripts of works by David Gascoyne, Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath, Stevie Smith, Wole Soyinka, and others. Many of the programs were produced by Douglas Cleverdon, who worked on the Third Programme from 1946 to 1969.

Bio/History: The British Broadcasting Corporation's (BBC) Third Programme began on September 29, 1946, during the BBC's post-war restructuring. At this time, the BBC was divided into three networks: The Home Service, the Light Programme, and the Third Programme. The latter was considered more intellectual in nature and was defined by the BBC as "being for the educated rather than an educational programme." In 1957 the BBC decreased program's air time, despite protests from individuals such as T.S. Eliot. The program was cut further in 1970 and merged with Radio Four, created in 1967 to replace the Home Service and to reach a wider audience. Associated materials: Related collections in other repositories: BBC Third Programme Radio Scripts, Special Collections, University of Delaware.

Finding aid available in repository. Originally received as part of the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library. The full finding aid is online here.

03 September 2007

Sylvia Plath (Great Writers): Unused sidebars

In my 2004 biography simply titled Sylvia Plath, Chelsea House considered having sidebars appear throughout the text. When all the editing was done, however, these were excluded. Each explored a topic that did not truly fit into the text, or presented some information I felt it important to highlight or separate. Each of the sidebars below is preceded by a quote from Plath, relevant to the time period discussed in the chapter.

Chapter One: Becoming a Poet, 1932-1950

“Breath, that is the first thing. Something is breathing. My own breath? The breath of my mother? No, something else, something larger, farther, more serious, more weary.” (JP, pg. 20)

The life of Sylvia Plath was not tragic. She grew up in three distinct neighborhoods around Boston. Her first home in Jamaica Plain was in-between a pond and an arboretum. Her second home in Winthrop was literally beach front, although it was on the calmer, bayside of the Atlantic Ocean; her grandparent’s house had views of both. A major hurricane unleashed its fury over Massachusetts in 1938, and Plath saw the ocean in a wild manner she had never seen before. The ocean always captivated Plath’s attention and she wrote about it ceaselessly throughout her life. She loved the salty air, its color and its consistency and depth. Her memories of the ocean are recalled in “Ocean 1212-W.” The title comes from her grandparent’s phone number, which she called frequently. Her father died on November 5, 1940 and less than two years later, she moved, along with her grandparent’s, to Wellesley, a suburb west of Boston. Compared to Winthrop, Wellesley was landlocked although there is a pond or two. Living in three houses before the age of ten did not affect Plath negatively; she maintained friendships she had as a child while making new ones in Wellesley. She enjoyed playing outdoors during the summer and getting a tan. Wellesley has always been a pleasant place to be and to live; but as a child Sylvia Plath was not “well off” financially. Her brother, Warren, won a scholarship to Philip Exeter Academy for high school and Plath attended the local public school. She performed excellently in school; she was number one in her class and earned a scholarship to attended Smith College, in Northampton.

Chapter Two: Climbing the Ranks: Plath at Smith, 1950-1953

“So I am going to one of the most outstanding colleges is America; I am living with two thousand of the most outstanding girls in the United States…The main way I can add to my self-respect is by saying I’m on scholarship, and if I hadn’t exercised my free will in high school I never would be here.” (J, pg. 33)

At Smith College, Plath continued her academic excellence. She practiced so hard as a writer that between class notes, letters home and to her friends, her journals and creative writing, it appeared as though she was never without a pen in hand. It was important to her to perform well academically to keep her scholarship. In 1952, Plath applied to the Elks National Foundation hopeful to receive their “Most Valuable Student” Scholarship Award to help pay her tuition (the scholarship she did receive, in the name of Olive Higgins Prouty, was not a “full” scholarship). Her submission is held with the Sylvia Plath Archives at the Lilly Library, Indiana University. Her application was accompanied by a letter from her mother, a transcript of High School and college records, and five glowing letters of recommendation. She did not win the award, but sustained financial balance by publishing poems, stories, and articles in local and national periodicals. Seventeen published her first “professional” story in August 1950; they became fairly faithful publishers of her work until she broke into more reputable magazines such as Mademoiselle and Harper’s. Her creative works increased in maturity in a very short amount of time. Her story “Sunday at the Minton’s” won the Mademoiselle Short Fiction Contest in 1952, netting a prize of $500. This success led her to apply for a Guest Editor position at Mademoiselle the next summer; and she won that too.

Chapter Three: The World Split Open, 1953-1955

“To the person in the bell jar, blank and stopped as a dead baby, the world itself is a bad dream.” (TBJ, pg. 167)

Plath wrote the sonnet “Doom of Exiles” on April 16, 1954, her first poem in over a year. It is a fantastic poem and it should not come as a surprise that it discusses her healed mind. She sent a copy of it home to her mother the same day, with other upbeat news and information. Due to her recovery at McLean Hospital during the fall semester of 1953, Plath would not graduate with her class, the class of 1954. Plath told her mother that she settled on her roommate for the following year, and it would be Nancy Hunter. Plath had been living in a single since her return to Smith, and was grateful for Nancy’s friendship. Later in 1954, Plath met Elinor Klein, a junior at Smith. They became very close friends, exchanging letters in later years. In 1966, Klein published her memoir “A Friend Recalls Sylvia Plath” in the November issue of Glamour. It was published right after Ariel hit the bookshelves in the United States; and stood to serve as a reminder that Plath was often happy. This period in Plath’s life was perhaps the most important; she needed to re-assimilate herself into the Smith world. She succeeded. Nancy Hunter also wrote a memoir, titled A Closer Look at Ariel. By 1973, when her book length memoir was published, Plath and Ariel were synonymous. Both recollections provide valuable insight to Plath’s life because of the absence of journals during this period. Plath’s ex-boyfriend, Gordon Lameyer, also wrote a memoir, but it was not deemed publishable; it is currently held with the Plath Archive at the Lilly Library.

Chapter Four: Plath in England, 1955-1957

“Forget myself, myself. Become a vehicle of the world, a tongue, a voice. Abandon my ego.” (J, pg. 502)

Over a weekend in April 1955, Plath competed with other New England college poets at the Glascock Poetry Festival at Mt. Holyoke College, in Holyoke, Massachusetts. It was there that she met Lynne Lawner, a poet at Wellesley College, in Plath’s hometown. It was the only time the two poets met each other, but they remained friendly via letters until Plath’s death. Plath was generally not very friendly to other female poets, but she would make an exception for Lawner. In 1978, Antaeus published “Nine Letters to Lynne Lawner” from Sylvia Plath. In many respects, Plath treats Lawner like a younger sister. As Plath was leaving Cambridge in June 1957, Lawner was on her way over to begin her own Fulbright, at Whitstead, too. Plath left her bicycle and standard black gown for Lawner’s use, as she reported that the bicycle was necessary to get to classes. This was true; Whitstead was a fair hike from the center of Cambridge. Many of Plath’s lectures, and likely Lawner’s too, were in the city at places like Grove Hall.

In the end, Lawner found the weather detestable and did not remain in Cambridge for long. She received a transfer to study in Rome and lived there for many years. Plath, too, found the weather abominable, but she had found Hughes, which made her life richer. Their letters, often long and intimate, are a good source to see Plath’s most genuine poetic camaraderie. In the 1960s, Lawner published two collections of poetry, Wedding Night of a Nun and Triangle Dream.

Chapter Five: Explorations in America, 1957-1959

“The artist’s life nourishes itself on the particular, the concrete…” (J, pg. 291)

In September 1959, Sylvia Plath began meticulously tracking the poetry and story missives that she sent to publishers for consideration. Throughout her life, she had been particularly keen on details, noticing more and more as she grew older. Although she never experienced a streak whereby all of her poems were accepted; she still felt that just one acceptance would catapult her into a period more of creativity. Laced throughout her journals, these highs and lows appear with frequency in correlation to acceptance and rejections. She was also a bit pessimistic regarding her bouts of writers’ blocks during her two year return to the United States. During her two years in America, she wrote three children’s stories, but was unable to publish any of them during her lifetime. At one point she had two stories out simultaneously, in her journals she said, “Yet I dream of a transfiguration: a letter of acceptance.” (J, pp. 508-9)

The keeping of lists coincided with her stay, with Hughes, at Yaddo, the writer’s colony in Saratoga Springs, New York. The entire estate proved to be of valuable inspiration to Plath, writing poems about the manor house, the rose gardens, a pond, another visitor’s favorite tree, and even a dead mole. At one point, they took a day trip to see an old, disused spa, which Plath made into “The Burnt-out Spa.” Most of these Yaddo poems were not in circulation long enough before Plath included them in The Colossus; in fact, Plath’s lists are coated with giant X’s. She gradually moved from putting stars next to accepted works, to boldly underlining them. Plath worked very hard to become a poet, and it later became natural, effortless.

Chapter Six: Confined Spaces, 1960- August 1961

“I wake to listen:/A far sea moves in my ear.” (CP, pg. 157)

Sylvia Plath failed to write a novel before the spring of 1961. She made several attempts beginning at Cambridge University. She wanted to fictionalize her meeting with Ted Hughes, and set down its importance, thinly veiled. Her inability to write longer fiction was broken sometime in late 1960, most likely with her short story “The Lucky Stone.” Plath wrote The Bell Jar very quickly; mixing together fact and fiction to make a semi-autobiographical, and humorous, novel. The events in The Bell Jar span nearly all of Plath’s life, though much of it is not discussed. It was not written chronologically, though it was written in the past tense.

Though the novel does somewhat resemble real events, many people and places were skewed for effect. As an example, in the novel, Esther writes the following after a visits to her father’s grave during the “Bell Jar” summer, “The graveyard disappointed me…The stones in the modern part were crude and cheap… [his headstone] was crowded right up by another gravestone, head to head, the way people are crowded in a charity ward when there isn’t enough space. (TBJ, pp. 187-8) There is no evidence at all that Plath did this in 1953. In her journal, dated March 9, 1959, however, Plath described her visit to Winthrop, “Went to my father’s grave, a very depressing site…ugly crude block stones, headstones together, as if the dead were sleeping head to head in a poorhouse…I found the flat stone…right beside the path, where it would be walked over. Felt cheated….Left shortly. It is good to have the place in mind.” (J, pg. 473)

Chapter Seven: The Triumphant Fulfillment, August 1961- February 1963

“Writing makes me a small god: I re-create the flux and smash of the world through the small ordered word-patterns I make.” (J, pg. 232)

Sylvia Plath’s journals, published in an unexpurgated format in 2000, stop in late 1959, just before she and Hughes returned to live in England. Plath continued writing a journal until near the time of her death, but Hughes destroyed one and another was lost. A few journal fragments exist from this period, however, and there is evidence from them that her journalistic style matured and became more useful to her creative writing. From her 1961 “Hospital Notes,” in Appendix 14 in the Unabridged Journals, one can read the origination of her poems “Tulips” and “In Plaster.” A year, in Appendix 15 “Journal 1962,” later she began careful note taking on her acquaintances in North Tawton. In particular, she detailed many encounters with the Tyrer family and her neighbors Rose and Percy Key. Plath’s voyeuristic objective here was to make poems and stories, possibly even a novel. She wrote two poems involving the Key’s, “Among the Narcissi” and “Berck-Plage.” In June 1962, she detailed her excursions with the local beekeeping society and with a five sequence poems she wrote on bees in early October 1962, she established a connection between the two styles of writing. Her journals leave a traceable documentary of significant places to seek out. With only time and occasional modernization as an interference, a serious Plath scholar can “[dash] down the hill past the old factory to Mill Lane” and see the “row of pale stucco cottages on the Taw” to see the location of “The Bee Meeting.” (J, pg. 656) The search for Sylvia Plath requires a careful reading of her work and a calculating approach for understanding.

Chapter Eight: The Afterlife: “A celebration, this is”

“Writing is a religious act: it is an ordering, a reforming, a relearning … a shaping which does not pass away like a day … the writing lasts: it goes about on its own in the world. People read it: react to it as to a person, a philosophy, a religion, a flower: they like it or they do not.” (J, pg. 436)

In 1965, Ted Hughes printed a limited edition of Uncollected Poems by Sylvia Plath. For the most part, they are poems written between the poems of The Colossus and the poems of Ariel. Over the next twenty years, Hughes would publish over a dozen other limited edition collections, ranging from poetry collections to a single poem, a short story, or a broadside. Just as Sylvia Plath typed his poems and got his name into the great world of poetry; so too Hughes would circulate with Plath’s. As a poet, he recognized the brilliance of Plath’s “late” work, and sought to have it in print. It is very easy to find fault with his editorial decisions and practices, however, he did was he could.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Hughes published the following limited editions: Wreath for a Bridal, The Surgeon at 2 A.M. & Other Poems, Crystal Gazer, Fiesta Melons, Among the Narcissi, Lyonnesse, Million Dollar Month, Child, Pursuit, Two Poems, Two Uncollected Poems, A Day in June, Dialogue Over a Ouija Board, The Green Rock, and Above the Oxbow. In addition to his own work, Hughes edited and saw published the following Plath titles: Ariel, Crossing the Water, Winter Trees, The Bell Jar, Letters Home, Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams, The Collected Poems, and The Journals of Sylvia Plath. Plath’s ambition as a writer and her belief of Hughes’s genius, led her to prophesize that they would “publish a bookshelf of books between us before we perish.” (J, pg. 270) Although Plath died with only two books by each in print, Hughes saw to it that her prediction was realized.
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