22 July 2011

Sylvia Plath Collections: Oscar Williams mss.

Finally after sitting on this information for nearly a year, I can post about the archival Plath material contained within the Oscar Williams mss. at the Lilly Library.

The Oscar Williams mss, 1920-1966 contains seven poems by Sylvia Plath; and in addition, holds several photographs in which Plath appears (and Ted Hughes too). Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes visited Oscar Williams in New York in early June 1958. According to Plath's address book held at Smith College, Williams lived at 35 Water Street in NY; which is in Lower Manhattan near South Ferry. The block where Williams lived is no longer extant and has been replaced a modern office building.

The poems held are typescript copies that Plath likely gave to Williams at the time of visit to New York City in June 1958. The poems are: "Full Fathom Five," "Sculptor," "Black Rook in Rainy Weather," "On The Difficulty of Conjuring Up a Dryad," "Sow," "Departure of the Ghost," and "November Graveyard, Haworth." Plath signed/inscribed the typescript of "Black Rook in Rainy Weather" praising Williams, his basil, the sun, and tug-boats, and dated the inscription June 4, 1958. This of course makes me wonder about the original order of the poems as Plath gave them to him. We can surmise that "Black Rook in Rainy Weather" was the first poem, either that or he particularly liked it.

The photographs are really very interesting. Part of this has to do with the fact they are unpublished and so far as I could tell, never mentioned in any previous publication about Plath. One photograph is of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes was published in "These Ghostly Archives 3" by Gail Crowther and myself (see page 125) in the Volume 4 of Plath Profiles. Another photograph is of Plath alone and a third is of Hughes alone. These are described on page 126 of the article, but if you are interested in seeing them I suggest either visiting the Lilly or writing to them and asking for scans. There is a fourth photograph of Oscar Williams with a woman identified (on the verso of the photograph) as Plath. However, after reviewing the photograph I do not believe the female subject of the photograph is indeed Sylvia Plath.

Apologies for the 10-month delay in posting this information, but it was a central part of "These Ghostly Archives 3." Have you read the article? How do you feel about the image and what is your reaction to seeing a never-before published photograph of Plath? Are there other archival finds to "discover"? Undoubtedly. Are we sitting on information: certainly! If you are interested in the location of Plath related archival materials, please visit my Collections page on "A celebration, this is" or click the "Sylvia Plath Collections" tag beneath this post to see coverage in this blog.  As you read in "TGA 3", Gail is on her way here to America. Who knows, maybe I can get over to England myself for "These Ghostly Archives 4: Trading Places."

18 July 2011

Some Bitchin’ Sylvia Plath Book News

Edward Butscher's biography Sylvia Plath: Method & Madness is now available in Kindle book format.  It is also available through Amazon.co.uk.

In case you were struck, as I was, at the incessant repetition of the phrase "bitch goddess" in the text and wondered just how many times it was used...the mystery has been solved! It appears 40 times. 30 times as "the bitch goddess"; 3 as "her bitch goddess"; 2 as "imprisoned bitch goddess"; and 1 each as "emerging bitch goddess", "hidden bitch goddess", "raging bitch goddess", "combination bitch goddess", and "appellation bitch goddess." Phew, now I can get some sleep.

14 July 2011

Sylvia Plath Self-portrait Sells at Sotheby's

On 25 June, I mentioned that a self-portrait by Sylvia Plath was going to be auctioned via Sotheby's today, 14 July, in Lot 98. The estimate was between 3,000 and 5,000 GBP. The item did sell for 3,750 GBP including buyers premiums.

The self-portrait dates from July 25, 1949, this is roughly three and a half months before her famous diary entry on November 13, 1949.

11 July 2011

Sylvia Plath articles...

A few Sylvia Plath articles to refer you to today, though I am sure you are all still engrossed with Plath Profiles 4!!!

P. H. Davies has recently reviewed Kathleen Connor's and Sally Bayley’s Eye Rhymes: Sylvia Plath’s Art of the Visual.

Jane Dowson has a chapter called "Towards a new confessionalism: Elizabeth Jennings and Sylvia Plath" in the recently published The Cambridge Companion to Twentieth-Century British and Irish Women's Poetry, see chapter 5, pages 62-81.

Michael Clune has a chapter called "Freedom from you" in his 2010 book American Literature and the Free Market, 1945-2000. Thanks to Amanda for bringing this to our attention. The chapter focuses on a few books, one of them being Plath's novel, The Bell Jar.

Another article of which I recently learned is Linda Anderson's "Gender, feminism, poetry: Stevie Smith, Sylvia Plath, Jo Shapcott" which appeared in the 2007 The Cambridge Companion to Twentieth-Century English Poetry. See pages 173-186.

05 July 2011

Sylvia Plath's Three Women Live in London (Again!)

Helen Eastman of Live Canon is directing two performances of Sylvia Plath's verse poem "Three Women." Performed by Holly Atkins, Rebecca Blackstone, and Helena Johnson, theater-goers and poetry lovers alike, in London on 8 July and 14 July can enjoy Plath's words live.

When I saw/heard Robert Shaw's production of "Three Women" in New York City last fall, "Three Women" was absolutely transformed for me as a poem & as a work of art.

Eastman's "Three Women" will be on at the Greenwich and Bloomsbury Theatres. See eflier here for more information.

01 July 2011

Two Rare Sylvia Plath items for sale

The rare book and manuscript dealer Glenn Horowitz, in New York City, has just posted on their blog a fascinating Sylvia Plath document. The "Class Song - 1950" which Plath (words) co-composed with Robert Blakesley (music) was to be sung upon the occasion of their graduation from high school.

In all probability, this is the same document which failed to sell at at 14 July 2009, Sotheby's auction and I hope that it finds a good home before too long. I say in all probability as the link I included in my review of Sotheby's sold lots rudely is no longer working...

For those who are interested in tracing other copies of Plath's works, a copy of "Class Song - 1950" is held by the Lilly Library; see Plath mss. II, Box 7, folder 9.

Also, Between the Covers Rare Books in New Jersey has for sale now Plath's own copy of Edna St. Vincent Millay’s The King's Henchman. The copy was also formerly Aurelia Plath's, too, quite the provenance! This book was lot 110 in the aforementioned Sotheby’s auction...

My birthday is soonish so anyone feeling charitable is certainly more than welcome to "surprise" me with either of these. Thank you in advance!
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