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Sylvia Plath 2008: Year in review

Strides were made this year in continuing to shift the perception and reception of Sylvia Plath. Every few months, through a symposium, new book publications, or news worthy events, Sylvia Plath proved to remain fresh and vital. Two major events took place in 2008: the Sylvia Plath 75th Year Symposium at Smith College in April and the publication of the online journal Plath Profiles in August. The Sylvia Plath 75th Year Symposium at Oxford , held in October 2007, was reprodcued on a smaller scale for an American audience at Smith College on April 25 & 26, 2008. Organized in large part by Oxford participant and Smith student Aubrey Menard, the two day event highlighted Plath's continued prominence in academic scholarship, as well as her hold on the attention of the public. Julia Stiles and Tristine Skyler attended both days and proved dedicated to conducting research into their forthcoming film adaptation of The Bell Jar. The two-day event featured a communit

A Sylvia Plath Christmas miracle?

The server that " A celebration, this is " is hosted on crashed and needed to be rebuilt, which the host did quite quickly. I've been through the pages and all the content seems back online. If you notice any broken links or anything, please let me know. A Sylvia Plath year in review will be forthcoming, sometime next week. Whatever you celebrate at this time of year, I hope it's a nice, happy, healthy and safe holiday season.

Links, reviews, etc. - Week ending 20 December 2008

Still very little going on out there...The weather outside is frightful, but writing about Plath is so delightful... Rare Book Review , in their December/2008 January/2009 issue, reports on the British Library acquisition of archival papers of Ted Hughes. The three page story (pages 8-10) is beautifully illustrated with many high quality scans of these papers. This appears to be the last issue of Rare Book Review , too, which is quite disappointing. A first edition Ariel (Faber, 1965) has been found among other books donated to an Oxfam in Glasgow, Scotland, the BBC reports . The Times also reports , with a different angle on the book and reader. The Herald is reporting, too. From the pictures, it looks like a mighty fine copy of this influential collection of poetry.

Sylvia Plath: Did you know...

Did you know that Sylvia Plath wrote her famous poem "Daddy" on the 22nd anniversary of the day her father had his leg amputated? In August 1940, Otto Plath stubbed a toe on his left foot. After some changes to his diet and medication with insulin, he developed pneumonia and spent about two weeks at the Winthrop Hospital. Eventually he developed gangrene and Otto Plath's left leg was amputated above the knee on 12 October 1940. Otto Plath died 24 days later on 5 November 1940. On 12 October 1962, twenty-two years later to the day, Plath placed a stake in his fat black heart when she wrote "Daddy". 24 days later, on 5 November 1962, Plath was in London. It was on this day that she applied for the lease on the house at 23 Fitzroy Road . Plath and Hughes visited San Francisco in the summer of 1959 while on a tour of the U.S. and Canada. It was here she likely saw the seals barking and basking in the sun off Pier 39. The image Plath uses in "Daddy" is

Links, reviews, etc. - Week ending 13 December 2008

Very little going on of late... Last week I posted about a live auction on eBay for a first edition The Colossus (Heinemann, 1960) by Sylvia Plath. The auction was on Thursday. The lucky high bidder won the book for a mere $508.40. Though the book shows evidence of soiling, if high bidder was a book store, chances are it'll reappear for sale shortly for double, and maybe triple the winning auction price. If you're shopping for Plath items to give a loved one for Christmas, I still have a few books for sale. See my post from 1 December for more information. Nothing says "I love you, I care about you, you complete me", etc. like a limited edition.

Review of The Cambridge Introduction to Sylvia Plath by Jo Gill

Since 2000, there have been a number of introductory books on Sylvia Plath. These come in two categories: biographies and critical overviews. The audience in each instance has been junior high (early teens) through high school and possibly early college. I've read each - including my own contribution to this genre - but most are written by a group of people whom I might term "serial" writers. Seemingly non-experts hired to write on Plath, or some other subject or person. The Cambridge Introduction to Sylvia Plath ( Cambridge University Press , 2008) by Jo Gill, Lecturer in Twentieth-Century Literature at the University of Exeter, is one of the most recent of these. In it, Gill discusses Plath's life and works in succinct chapters that are so packed with value it makes even the thickest Plath criticism redundant. You may know Gill's name in association with Plath's from the 2006 Cambridge Companion to Sylvia Plath , a wonderful volume which sh

Links, reviews, etc. - Week ending 6 December 2008

Amazon.com began listing Sylvia Plath's Fiction: A Critical Study by Luke Ferretter ( University of Edinburgh Press ). Amazon.com lists the publication date to be on May 15, 2009. Edinburgh University Press lists publication date to be July 2009. Regardless, look for it. Based on what I know of Ferretter's work, and what I've read & heard, I think it is safe for me to give advanced, unseen praise for this book. The product description on Amazon.com reads: Sylvia Plath's poetry has generated tons of critical interest, yet there remains no full-length study of her fiction. In addition to her classic novel The Bell Jar , Plath wrote dozens of short stories, only about half of which have been published. Luke Ferretter launches the first comprehensive study of Plath as a writer of fiction. He encompasses both published and unpublished material, tracing Plath's influences, style, politics, and place in the history of postmodern fiction. Plath was ve

Plath's "Three Women" on stage in London

Sylvia Plath's "Three Women" to be performed in January & February 2009. Alison Flood at The Guardian writes about its revival . Tim Kendall and yours truly quoted in it, as well! Elisabeth Dahl, Tilly Fortune, and Lara Lemon appear in the first revival of Sylvia Plath's only play. Three women's monologues recount their experiences of childbirth, remember the different routes that brought them there, and consider what the future has in store. Don't miss your chance to see this powerful piece on stage at the Jermyn Street Theatre from January 5 2009. Directed by Robert Shaw. Where: Jermyn Street Theatre 16b Jermyn Street, London When: Monday 5 January - Saturday 7 February 2009 Mon-Sat 7:30pm Sat matinees 4:00pm How much: £18 (£12 concessions) More info: Box Office: 0207 287 2875

Sylvia Plath Collections: University of Liverpool

The Sydney Jones Library at the University of Liverpool holds several typescripts of poems by Sylvia Plath. Typescripts held are: "Three Women" [MS.26.1(64)], "The Moon and the Yew Tree" [MS.26.1(65)], "The Rabbit Catcher" [MS.26.1(66)], and "Among the Narcissi" [MS.26.1(67)]. The reference number is: GB 141 Plath. The typescript of "The Rabbit Catcher" is annotated; the word "CHEVREAU" is handwritten in next to the first line, "It was a place a force." The handwriting does appear to be Plath's. There are other small annotations (not in Plath's hand) and variations on the typescripts to those Ariel typescripts held at the Mortimer Rare Book Room, Smith College. The typescript of "Three Women" appears to be a reading copy - or something similar - for a 1968 broadcast of the verse poem. The Special Collections also holds a respectible collection of books by Plath. The Sydney Jones Library ( Sp

Pirated Plath

As mentioned in a previous post , there was one item at the 32nd annual Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair that I had never seen and did not know existed. This title, The Bell Jar , is familiar to us all as being a book written and published by Sylvia Plath. The true first edition was published in England under a pseudonym, and in 1966, under her own name. In 1971, the book made a huge splash when it was published in her birth country for the first time. The "hotness" of the book and the sensation it caused when it was published lead someone in Taipei, Taiwan to issue a pirated copy in that country. Obviously Plath's book wasn't the only book pirated in Taiwan, but it's the only one we care about here... Aside from the copy offered for sale at the Boston Book Fair, WorldCat lists five other copies of The Bell Jar with the issuing city of publication being Taipei, Taiwan. These are purportedly held in the following libraries: University of N

Links, reviews, etc. - Week ending 22 November 2008

Regina Marler of Truthdig reviews Letters of Ted Hughes . Thanks to Lucy Berbeo for the referral. Sheila Farr reviews Letters of Ted Hughes in the Seattle Times . Frieda Hughes 's most installment in the Daily Mail appeared this week. Read " The magpie who came to stay: Artist Frieda Hughes has an unexpected house guest to her dream garden ". Somehow I missed her 10 November contribution, " Rocky days, stormy nights: How Frieda Hughes transformed a desolate one-acre field into the garden of her dreams ". Published recently is a collection of poems by Jim Long of Honolulu, HI. Between Wings: Poems is available through Lulu.com . Many of the readers of this blog will be familiar with Jim through his masterful, eloquent, and thoughtful contributions to Elaine Connell's Sylvia Plath Forum . In addition to the preview available through Lulu.com, two of Jim's poems were posted on the Forum. Read "Edgelit" and &q

Plath at the Boston Book Fair

The 32nd annual Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair concluded Sunday, but sales figures and the success of the fair won't be known for some time. There were 139 dealers displaying their wonderful books: old, new, rare, signed, weird, etc. I kept my eye open for Plath titles, as you'd probably expect! Jett W. Whitehead , of Bay City, Michigan, who specializes in Modern Poetry, First Editions, Chapbooks, and Broadsides, has two extremely lovely Plath items for sale at the moment. The first, a copy of the first Faber edition of Ariel signed and inscribed by Ted Hughes to the Hungarian poet Janos Csokits, stained of thatch drippings from Court Green. At $12,995 it's available for only the most serious collector. The letter that accompanied this gift to Janos Csokits is reprinted in the Letters of Ted Hughes, see page . The actual letter is held in the Ted Hughes papers at Emory Univeristy. The other unique item he has, at $17,500, is a handwritten ma

Links, reviews, etc. - Week ending 15 November 2008

A reminder that the Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair is going on this weekend at the Hynes Convention Center. Fair hours today and tomorrow are 12-7 and 12-5 pm, respectively. Stimulate your economy! We have all searched for "Sylvia Plath" using Google. A search yields millions of results, and those results are a combination of webpages, documents, and other media files. And a lot of junk, too, unfortunately. There is a way to search for, for example, only PDF's where Plath's name is mention. Type "sylvia plath" filetype:pdf into your Google search box and you'll see these. Narrow your search by adding other terms like The Bell Jar, The Colossus, echoes, short stories, feminist, Mademoiselle, etc. to provide more context to your search. The results should please. There are some really wonderful documents out there, completely free. A search like this separates - if you will - some of the wheat from the chaff. David Orr at the The New York T

The rest is posthumous - A review of The Letters of Ted Hughes, selected and edited by Christopher Reid

Just as Sylvia Plath's journals and letters home construct an autobiography of her, The Letters of Ted Hughes form a partial autobiography of him. The poems in Crow changed the way I viewed him as a poet; and Nick Gammage's The Epic Poise changed the way I viewed him as a man. These letters continue to evolve the image of Ted Hughes, which frankly had nowhere to go but up. Occasionally I asked myself, "Should I be reading these?", just as I ask myself that same question when I regularly read Plath's journals and letters. But the answer is always, "Yes." This book, the first of its kind for a man who was known to be a very private person, further opens Ted Hughes. Similarly, in some way, to those "raw and unguarded" Birthday Letters . When Hughes sold his archive to Atlanta, he allowed for the demolition of that private wall he had built up around him. His archives are open in Atlanta, and another will be in the coming year in London, all

Links, reviews, etc. - Week ending 8 November 2008

In an interview, Ireland's Nick Laird , mentions Plath's "Tulips". Laird will be giving at reading at Boston University on 8 November 2008, at 5:30 p.m. at CGS's Jacob Sleeper Auditorium, Room 129, 871 Commonwealth Avenue. The October/November2008 issue of Rare Book Review features an article on Sebastian Carter of the Rampant Lions Press. The Rampant Lions Press - in conjunction with the Rainbow Press - printed a number of limited editions of Plath's work. These titles include Lyonnesse , Pursuit , and Dialogue Over a Ouija Board . Copies are fairly expensive , but very lovely too. If these are beyond your means, libraries throughout the world do hold these titles in their special collections. The Daily Mail ran the first article of a four-part series on Frieda Hughes on 5 November. Read it here! Michael Dirda reviews Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence Between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell in The Washington Post. There are bound to be som

68 & a maniacal "Did you know..."

Otto Plath died 68 years ago today. Did you know that Ted Hughes died aged 68, 2 months, and 11 days? Plath died on 2/11/63. Did you know that 63 days before Plath died, she moved to London? Did you know that in Diane Middlebrook's Her Husband: Hughes and Plath - a marriage , the pagination coincides so that on page 211, the author discusses Plath's death? Middlebrook, who passed away last December, was 68. This was 123 days before her next birthday. To recap some numbers, this is 68 x 2 - 11 -2.

Frieda Hughes at the Ted Hughes Festival

The following is a contribution to the blog by Gail Crowther, Research Student, Department of Sociology at Lancaster University. Gail attended the Freida Hughes reading during the Ted Hughes Festival on 24 October, 2008, in Mytholmroyd, West Yorkshire, and was kind enough to write this review of the reading for Sylvia Plath Info Blog readers. Thank you, Gail! I’ll paint my life in abstracts now, These poems as the key To the incidents that shaped me, And celebrate my journey through The thickets and hedges, The maze of thorny edges Thrown up by family and circumstance From which I am now free. (Frieda Hughes, 2006: 96-97) In the dark and ragged valley of Calderdale on a winter’s evening, we gathered in a small theatre to hear Frieda Hughes read a selection of her published, and soon to be published work. Starting from a chronological point of view, Frieda began reading from her first book Wooroloo beginning with "Three Women", a poem about an unsavoury stay

10 & 47

10 years ago today... Ted Hughes passed away. 47 years ago today... Sylvia Plath published her short story "The Perfect Place" in the women's magazine My Weekly . The working title for this story was "The Lucky Stone", and typescripts are held by both the Moritmer Rare Book Room at Smith College and the Robert W. Woodruff Library at Emory University. This was the last short story that we know of that Plath published in her lifetime. Irralie Doel and I spoke about this story on 28 October 2007 at the Sylvia Plath 75th Year Symposium at Oxford. To read more about the story, please see my paper "'I should be loving this': Sylvia Plath's 'The Perfect Place' and The Bell Jar " in Volume 1 of Plath Profiles .

Links, reviews, etc. - Week ending 25 October 2008

Below is a list of links and other newsworthy items from the week that was. The Cambridge Introduction to Sylvia Plath by Jo Gill has had a somewhat roaming US publication date. Having moved from 30 September to 30 October to 30 November, Amazon.com now has the publication date set for Monday, 27 October . Also know as the birthday of Sylvia Plath, Dylan Thomas, and countless others. The book is listed as In Stock according to Cambridge University Presses US site; and it is also available as an eBook using the Adobe eBook Reader. Blake Morrison remembers Ted Hughes in The week in books in The Guardian . The Guardian also gives us a glimpse into A. Alvarez's writing room . The Chronicle Herald (Canada) reports last Sunday on the sale of the Hughes papers. The Whitman College Pioneer (Walla Walla, Wash) reports that the Citizens for Academic Responsibility wants Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar should be removed from school curriculum. [Go ahead: If you ban it, it will be

Sylvia Plath events

There are two events worthy of note in the next month. On Monday October 27, 2008, Kate Moses will highlight a Sylvia Plath Symposium at Pacific. The other speakers will be Camille Norton, Diane Borden, and Xiaojing Zhou."Life Into Art: A Symposium on Sylvia Plath" will be from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom in the DeRosa University Center. Click here for more information ... The Ted Hughes Festival will be held from 22-28 October in Mytholmroyd. Anticipated participants include: Amanda Dalton, Ian Duhig, Frieda Hughes , Glyn Hughes, Mark Piggott, Keith Sagar, John Siddique, Lemm Sissay, Anne Stevenson and Anthony Thwaite. Visit the website for the Elmet Trust for more information and a complete schedule.

The peanut-crunching crowd

As expected - probably - there has been some criticism that has sprung from the big news this week that the British Library had acquired some of Ted Hughes' papers. Heather McRobie's response "Can't we leave Hughes and Plath alone? We have their poems. We really don't need access to every corner of their lives" is one such example. The short answer is "No". We cannot leave them alone. And it is arguable that by having access to every corner of their lives does add incredibly valuable insight to their poems. Archival materials allow for the assessment and the reassessment of the subject. Therefore, it is vital that saved materials be made available for use by the public. There is, undeniably and unfortunately, a gossipy aspect to the story of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. The news of additional archival material being sold was picked up so widely because news about Plath and Hughes does sell papers, and will be clicked on by readers on the Int

Ted Hughes papers go to British Library

The following is a list of articles and links of the recent sale of Ted Hughes papers to the British Library... Last updated: 17 October 2008 Rough-hewn genius of Ted Hughes laid bare in unfinished verses - The Times British Library's £500,000 Ted Hughes catch - The Guardian Library acquires Hughes archives - BBC Ted Hughes 'regretted not publishing Sylvia Plath Birthday Letters sooner' - The Daily Telegraph Ted Hughes archive to remain in UK - The Times Ted Hughes and the Birthday Letters - The First Post (Cheltenham) Fishing for inspiration - Ted Hughes' journals - The Scotsman British Library acquires Ted Hughes archive - The Peninsula (Qatar) British Library buys $1-million archive of poet Ted Hughes - The Canadian Press British Library acquires Ted Hughes archive for nation - The Herald For more information, please see the Ted Hughes page at the British Library.

Call for Book Covers, Take 3

The kindness of the Flur's and their Swedish cover collection has prompted me to repost this Call for Sylvia Plath Book Covers! On my website, A celebration, this is , the book cover galleries and photographs receive thousands of hits per month. Do you have any Sylvia Plath book covers that I do not feature on my website? If so, please send me a scanned image of it at at least 200 dpi, and every few weeks I will add them to the web site. I am looking for books by Plath and about Plath, in any language.

Links, reviews, etc. - Week ending 11 October 2008

The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D. C., opens a new exhibition on 10 October called " Women of Our Time: Twentieth Century Photographs ". The exhibit runs through February 1, 2009. The photograph of Plath by Rollie McKenna, taken in Boston in 1959, is included. And, there is an online gallery , with some contextual information on Plath. It is not the best piece of writing on her. Along with the exhibit comes Women of Our Time: An Album of Twentieth-Century Photographs by Frederick S. Voss, with a preface by Cokie Roberts, 2002; 176 pages; hardcover, $35 (ISBN 1-85894-169-5). Anne Sexton is also one of the featured women. The National Portrait Gallery is located at Eighth and F Streets, NW, D.C., 20001. They are open daily 11:30 a.m.-7:00 p.m. daily - however they are closed on Christmas Day. Admission is free. Published this month is Sylvia Plath: The Bell Jar and Poems (Writers and Their Works) by Raychel Haugrud Reiff. Published by Marsha

Sylvia Plath collections: Woodberry Poetry Room

Sylvia Plath collections: Woodberry Poetry Room Sylvia Plath gave two readings for the Woodberry Poetry Room ('WPR', or 'Poetry Room') in 1958 and 1959. The Poetry Room has one of the largest collections of recorded poetry in the world. As I work there, I am assisting in a project to digitize the recordings to make them available either to the Harvard community, or the whole world wide web. In a routine visit to the stacks to select reel-to-reel tapes to digitize, I found the original cardboard box containers for the Plath recordings. Most of the containers feature minimal information, likely in either a curator's hand or the audio technician. However, when I pulled the Plath boxes off the shelf, I was amazed to see that she herself had written the track listings on the back. The recording for Friday June 13, 1958 is written in a pink ink. It may have been red, but the color appears pink to me. There are two poems per available line. The recording for her F