25 August 2013

More Sylvia Plath Newspapers Articles from August 1953

Last year I found, through Newspaper Archive online, more articles about Sylvia Plath's first suicide attempt; the search for her; and her discovery from the week of 24 August 1953. The Google Newspaper Archive project has long since stopped (those quitters!), which is a shame, but as we all well know, the search for Sylvia Plath continues...

The seven new newspaper articles that I have found brings our total known number of articles up to 183. The articles are:

"Object of Search." The Charleston Gazette. August 26, 1953: 1. [photograph of SP included]

"College Senior Missing." The Chester (Pa.) Times. August 26, 1953: 2. [photograph of SP included]

"Searchers Comb Woods for Smith College Girl." Corpus Christi Times. August 26, 1953: 16.

"Missing Student Found." The Daily News (Newport, R.I.). August 26, 1952: 8.

"Missing Smith Senior Found." The Times Record (Troy, N.Y.). August 27, 1953: 15.

"Second Wellesley Girl Student Listed Missing." The Daily News (Newport, R.I.). August 28, 1952: 2.

"Police Search for Missing Girl." Panama City News. August 29, 1953: 2.

There are more articles on Plath's disappearance available through Historic Newspapers; however, these (from Lowell, North Adams, and Fitchburg in Massachusetts) have already been accounted for in my essay and bibliography "'They Had to Call and Call': The Search for Sylvia Plath."

The last two articles in the list above refer to Plath's recent case, but are primarily about the disappearance of Penelope Protze, who also hailed from Wellesley, Mass. Protze at the time had recently left her job at the Eastern Yacht Club in Marblehead. The Yacht Club would have been familiar to Plath herself as two summers earlier, when she worked as a nanny for the Mayo family at 144 Beach Bluff Avenue in Swampscott, she and Marcia Brown visited Marblehead several times.

In Folder 29 of Plath's High School Scrapbook, which is held by the Lilly Library, there are photographs from the visit that Plath and Marcia Brown made to Children's Island, off the coast of Marblehead, Mass. The row to the island was two miles. The boat they rented is in one of the photographs, Marcia sits on it. Plath sketched Marcia at the piano (this was in the book Eye Rhymes - see in-text illustration 20, page 85). On the reverse side of the sketch is a blank form for a yacht club and this yacht club, the "Eastern and Pleon Yacht Club" is possibly where they rented said boat.

But I digress... And the search for Sylvia Plath continues...

All links accessed 18 June 2013.

You can see a bibliography of articles on Plath's first suicide attempt, and read PDF's of them, over at A celebration, this is.

22 August 2013

Sylvia Plath Did you know... August 22, 1961

Did you know that on August 22, 1961, Sylvia Plath was efficiently busy. Plath's busyness that day is briefly discussed in "These Ghostly Archives 5: Reanimating the Past", a paper that I co-write with Gail Crowther. But to give some additional detail...

On August 22, 1961: Plath was about nine days away from moving to Court Green...

On August 22, 1961: Plath sent her drafts of her poem "Insomniac" to Eric Walter White. Collected Poems generically (generally) dates the poem to "May 1961"; however, Plath dated her final typed copy "May 23, 1961". Good to know. The letter and poetry drafts are held by the British Library in the "Cheltenham Festival prize poems" (ADD MS 52617).

On August 22, 1961: Plath sent her drafts of her poem "Tulips" (variant title "Sickroom Tulips") to Jack Sweeney. This poem was written on March 18, 1961, a week or so after her release from hospital from having her appendix removed. The poem was written on commission for the Poetry at the Mermaid festival and was read live (and recorded) on July 17, 1961. Her letter and the drafts are held by the Houghton Library, Harvard ("Sylvia Plath papers for Sickroom Tulips" MS Am 1780). Sweeney exhibited the drafts in the Poetry Room two months later.

On August 22, 1961: Plath annotated the sentence in her journals, "Why don’t I write a novel?", saying, "I have! August 22, 1961: THE BELL JAR". Plath's journals are, of course, held in the Sylvia Plath Collection, Mortimer Rare Book Room, Smith College.

In the absence of any acceptance letter, of which none is known to exist, can we possibly conclude that on this date Plath and her publisher Heinemann came to agreement to publish the novel? Tough to say. Three days earlier (August 19, 1961), Plath wrote to her brother and sister-in-law, Gerald and Joan Hughes, saying that she was working on finishing her first novel before they moved. The letter to Gerald and Joan Hughes is held in Ted Hughes mss. II at he Lilly Library, Indiana University at Bloomington.

There are so many Plath archives! See more of them on my website A celebration, this is.

08 August 2013

Sylvia Plath & The Wellesley Townsman

The Wellesley Townsman (formerly The Townsman has been largely digitized which, for a fan of Sylvia Plath, is a dream come true. As of August 2012 (when I found the site and first drafted this post) the images are big and freely downloadable, and the functionality of the website is pretty easy to use. The newspaper articles themselves were OCR'd which can lead to false hits, but beggars cannot be choosers and to be too critical might make it appear that I am not grateful, which I certainly am.

The majority of the articles you will find merely mention Plath, but from a biographical standpoint, one gets the sense of some of her activities as a young girl, teenager, and young woman. The date range to look for is 1943 and on; there are fewer mentions after 1955, as one might expect as that was the last time Plath truly lived in Wellesley; though she often used her 26 Elmwood Road address for submitting her work when she was transitioning between apartments, cities, etc.

One interesting thing to note is that Warren Plath had his name in the paper before his sister did! But this is not too surprising since Plath's general attitude was one of happiness when a boy achieved something before she did... Another is that Freida Rebecca Hughes (though under the name Rebecca Hughes) got a birth announcement ("New Citizens" 14 April 1960) but Nicholas Farrar Hughes did not.

Below is a chronological bibliography - because you know I love lists - of articles both by Plath or that mention her. Please note that this is not all of them: I was very selective and because I found some uninteresting, particularly after 1975, and so I have not listed them all. Most of the articles are unattributed. One thing you will see repeated a lot is "Neighborhood News." This was a free-for-all kind of heading, often appearing over several columns and pages, for smaller news stories about Wellesleyites. Where the article title is not really that helpful, such as "Neighborhood News," I have placed in square brackets a brief description of the newsworthy item regarding Plath.

"Neighborhood News." The Townsman. November 4, 1943: 11. [attends a birthday party]

Plath, Sylvia. "Troop 5 Valentine Party." The Townsman. March 10, 1944: 4.

"Exhibition of Art Work at Library." The Townsman. March 30, 1945: 2. [SP's "Hill in September" displayed]

"Unitarian Church School Conducts Graduation Exercises." The Townsman. June 8, 1945: 4.

Pipes, Elaine and Barbara Botsford. "Junior High Briefs." The Townsman. March 7, 1946: 3.

"Wellesley Concert Band and Junior High Orchestra to Take Part in Needham Music Festival Saturday." The Townsman. May 9, 1946: 8.

Richardson, Joan. "Junior High Briefs." The Townsman. May 9, 1946: 12.

"Honor Roll Read at Unitarian Church." The Townsman. May 30, 1946: 4.

Campana, Dick. "Junior High Briefs." The Townsman. June 27, 1946: 4.

"[Photograph]" The Townsman. June 27, 1946: 15. [SP photographed standing in ration line; unattributed]

"Junior High Briefs." The Townsman. October 3, 1946: 18.

"Senior High Orchestra to Play for the Teachers' Convention." The Townsman. October 10, 1946: 16.

Plath, Sylvia. "Junior High Briefs." The Townsman. October 17, 1946: 4.

Burdoin, Elizabeth. "Junior High Briefs." The Townsman. October 24, 1946: 3.

"The Unitarian Church." The Townsman. December 19, 1946: 18.

Duffin, Jack. "Junior High Briefs." The Townsman. December 26, 1946: 10.

Ventura, Mary. "Junior High Briefs." The Townsman. January 16, 1947: 11.

Dean, Nancy. "Junior High Briefs." The Townsman. January 23, 1947: 9.
Lee, Peggy Ann. "Junior High Briefs." The Townsman. January 30, 1947: 8.

Hell, David. "Junior High Briefs." The Townsman. February 13, 1947: 16.

Stimson, William T. "Junior High Students Enter National Art Contest." The Townsman. February 27, 1947: 16.

Stimson, William T. "Wellesley Artists Win Many Honors in High School Art Exhibit." The Townsman. March 6, 1947: 9. [SP's art works "Thanksgiving" and "Hallowe'en"]

MacNeil, Norma. "Junior High Briefs." The Townsman. March 20, 1947: 5.

"Junior High P.T.A. Meeting Last Thursday." The Townsman. May 22, 1947: 10.

"Current Activities at Unitarian Church." The Townsman. May 29, 1947: 15.

"Wellesley Club Awards and School Letters Given at Junior High Final Assembly." The Townsman. July 3, 1947: 4.

Gordon, Margaret "High School Highlights." The Townsman. December 18, 1947: 2.

"Christmas Services at Unitarian Church." The Townsman. December 18, 1947: 6.

"Senior High Honor Roll Members Named." The Townsman. December 18, 1947: 11.

"Senior High Honor Roll Announced." The Townsman. February 19, 1948: 13.

"Wellesley Students Score at Regional Art Show." The Townsman. March 11, 1948: 7.

"High School Honor Roll Announced, Seniors Lead During Third Quarter." The Townsman. May 13, 1948: 7.

Hope, Patricia. "High School Highlights." The Townsman. May 13, 1948: 15.

"Wellesley High School Students Win High Honors in National Atlantic School Contest." The Townsman. June 3, 1948: 12.

Plath, Sylvia. "View of Commencement." The Townsman. June 3, 1948: 4-5. [drawing]

Boughner, Kit "High School Highlights." The Townsman. October 28, 1948: 5.

"Over 400 Attend Senior High Parent's Night." The Townsman. October 28, 1948: 11.

Stimson, William T. "Senior High School Honor Roll Released." The Townsman. December 2, 1948: 16.

"Christmas Services at Unitarian Church." The Townsman. December 16, 1948: 11.

Weller, Barbara. "Junior Prom Plans Under Way." The Townsman. January 20, 1949: 4.

Stimson, William T. "94 on Senior High Honor Roll for Second Quarter." The Townsman. February 17, 1949: 17.

Stimson, William T. "13 Winners in Scholastic Art Contest." The Townsman. March 3, 1949: 18.

Urann, Margaret S. "Music Festival Great Success." The Townsman. April 7, 1949: 21.

"Honor Roll for Third Marking Period Released." The Townsman. April 28, 1949: 2.

"Mr. Rice Will Preach at Unitarian Church." The Townsman. May 26, 1949: 20.

"To the Seniors." The Townsman. June 2, 1949: 4.

Plath, Sylvia. "View of Commencement." The Townsman. June 2, 1949: 4-5. [drawing]

"Mr. Rice Will Preach at Unitarian Church." The Townsman. June 2, 1949:6.

"Unitarian Delegates to Summer Conferences." The Townsman. June 9, 1949: 18.

"Mr. Rice Will Preach at Unitarian Church." The Townsman. June 16, 1949: 10.

"Drawings Made for Local Tennis Tournaments." The Townsman. August 11, 1949: 2.

"Local Tennis Tourney Semi-Finals This Week." The Townsman. August 25, 1949: 3.

Ventura, Mary. "High School Highlights." The Townsman. September 29, 1949: 22.

Giesey, Louise. "High School Highlights." The Townsman. November 3, 1949: 7.

Giesey, Louise. "High School Highlights." The Townsman. November 24, 1949: 2.

"Senior High Honor Roll." The Townsman. December 8, 1949: 4.

"Rev. William Rice to Preach Sunday at Unitarian Church." The Townsman. January 5, 1950: 10.

Stockbridge, Ruth. "Highschool Highlights." The Townsman. January 26, 1950: 3.

"Youth to Lead Service at Unitarian Church." The Townsman. January 26, 1950: 9. [prints a photograph which might include Plath]

Blakesley, Bob. "Highschool Highlights." The Townsman. March 23, 1950: 5.

"The Admirable Crichton to be Presented by Seniors at High School on Friday, April 14." The Townsman. March 30, 1950: 5.

"Honor Society Induction at Sr. High School." The Townsman. March 30, 1950: 9.

"In Cast of The Admirable Crichton." The Townsman. April 6, 1950: 1. [Prints photo including Plath]

"Entire Cast of The Admirable Crichton." The Townsman. April 13, 1950: 13. [Prints photo including Plath]

"The Admirable Crichton Senior Play Success." The Townsman. April 20, 1950: 5.

"Senior High Honor Roll for Third Quarter." The Townsman. May 9, 1950: 9.

"Flower Sunday May 21 at Unitarian Church." The Townsman. May 18, 1950: 6.

Almond, Betty Lou. "Personal Interviews." The Townsman. June 1, 1950: 5. [SP and others start a "Freedom for Women" movement; prints photo of SP with other National Honor Society members]

"Smith College Club Holds Annual Meeting." The Townsman. June 1, 1950: 15.

Goldsmith, Sue. "Highschool Highlights." The Townsman. June 8, 1950: 7.

"158 High School Seniors Receive Diplomas." The Townsman. June 15, 1950: 2.

Sullivan, Ann. "High School Highlights." The Townsman. June 15, 1950: 2.

"Senior Class Day at High School." The Townsman. June 22, 1950: 4.

"Smith College Club Tea Tomorrow." The Townsman. September 21, 1950: 15.

"Smith College Club to Meet Tuesday." The Townsman. February 22, 1951: 8.

"Dr. Rice to Preach at Unitarian Church." The Townsman. June 21, 1951: 11.

"Smith College Club to Meet at Home of Mrs. Henry P. Briggs." The Townsman. September 13, 1951: 16.

"Neighborhood News." The Townsman. October 25, 1951: 4 [For making Dean's List]

"." The Townsman.

"Neighborhood News." The Townsman. February 21, 1952: 13. [Honorable mention in Seventeen for story "The Perfect Setup"]

"Neighborhood News." The Townsman. May 1, 1952: 20. [Elected secretary of Honor Board]

"Neighborhood News." The Townsman. June 5, 1952: 6. [Named to Push Committee; member of Alpha Phi Kappa Psi]

"Smith College Club Tea for Freshman and Undergraduates." The Townsman. September 18, 1952: 16.

"Local Registrants at Smith College." The Townsman. September 25, 1952: 13.

"Wellesley Girl's Short Story in Seventeen." The Townsman. October 2, 1952: 12. ["The Perfect Setup"]

"Four Local Girls Win Smith Honors." The Townsman. October 9, 1952: 4. [Named, along with Jane Anderson, a First Group Scholar]

"Neighborhood News." The Townsman. October 9, 1952: 19. ["Initiation" named prize winning story.]

"Neighborhood News." The Townsman. December 4, 1952: 5. ["Initiation" is a prize winning story, due out in January]

"Neighborhood News." The Townsman. December 11, 1952: 20. ["Twelfth Night" (a.k.a. "Cinderella") published in Seventeen]

"Neighborhood News." The Townsman. December 18, 1952: 5. [On editorial board of Smith Review which re-published "Sunday at the Mintons'"]

"Neighborhood News." The Townsman. January 8, 1953: 5. ["Initiation" wins prize in Seventeen.]

"Neighborhood News." The Townsman. March 26, 1953: 14. ["Carnival Nocturne" in Seventeen]

"Neighborhood News." The Townsman. April 23, 1953: 16. [Serve as correspondent on Press Board.]

"Wellesley Girls Win Prizes at Smith College." The Townsman. May 28, 1953: 17.

"Two Local Girls are Mademoiselle Guests." The Townsman. June 25, 1953: 2.

"Sylvia Plath Found in Good Condition." The Townsman. August 27, 1953: 1.

"Neighborhood News." The Townsman. April 22, 1954: 18. [Return to Smith from vacation in New York City.]

"Neighborhood News." The Townsman. May 27, 1954: 2. [Winner of Ethel Olin Corbin Prize]

"Neighborhood News." The Townsman. July 1, 1954: 13. [Harvard Summer School scholarship]

"Large Group of Local Girls Enroll at Smith. The Townsman. September 23, 1954: E.

"Neighborhood News." The Townsman. June 17, 1954: 16. [Bridesmaid in Marcia Brown's wedding]

"Poem by Sylvia Plath in Harper's." The Townsman. November 11, 1954: 8.

"Miss Plath Read Poetry in College Competition." The Townsman. April 21, 1955: 6.

"Miss Plath Receives Alpha Writing Award." The Townsman. April 28, 1955: 4.

"Wellesley Girls to Graduate from Smith." The Townsman. April 28, 1955: 17.

"Sylvia Plath Winner of Mt. Holyoke Prize." The Townsman. May 5, 1955: 2.

"Miss Sylvia Plath Wins Fulbright Scholarship." The Townsman. May 26, 1955: 1.

"Wellesley Smith College Club Annual Meeting." The Townsman. June 9, 1955: 6.

"Miss Plath's Degree is Summa Cum Laude." The Townsman. June 9, 1955: 11.

"Sylvia Plath is Betrothed to Mr. Hughes." The Townsman. November 8, 1956: 4.

"Sylvia Plath Wed in England to Mr. Hughes." The Townsman. December 20, 1956: 5.

"Mrs. E. J. Hughes to Teach English at Smith College." The Townsman. September 26, 1957: 14.

"Sylvia P. Hughes Gets Poetry Prize." The Townsman. October 10, 1957: 2.

"Ted Hughes to Read Poetry at Radcliffe." The Townsman. April 10, 1958: 23.

"New Citizens." The Townsman. April 14, 1960: 3. [Birth of Frieda Hughes]

"Sylvia Plath Hughes Publishes Her Verse." The Townsman. April 14, 1960: 13.

"Ted Hughes Lupercal is Reviewed." The Townsman. August 4, 1960: 9.

"Recent Deaths: Sylvia Plath Hughes." The Townsman. February 21, 1963: 4.

"'A Poet's Epitaph' Honors the Late Sylvia Plath Hughes." The Townsman. March 7, 1963: 3.

"Sylvia Plath's Poems Subject of Article" The Townsman. July 21, 1964: 5.

"Neighborhood News." The Townsman. June 24, 1971: 7.

Ouellet, Norma. "Letters Home Provides Rare Glimpse of Sylvia Plath." The Townsman. November 20, 1975: 1, 8.

Hinchliffe, Elizabeth. "Sylvia Plath - Legacy Lives in Wake of Tragedy." The Wellesley Townsman. April 2, 1981: 17.

Hansmire, Suzanne. "Pulitzer for Plath Thrills Mother Teacher." The Wellesley Townsman. April 15, 1982: 8.

Link accessed on 1 August 2013.

01 August 2013

Review of Critical Insights: Sylvia Plath

Salem Press has recently published their second book of essays on Sylvia Plath in their Critical Insights series in the last three years. The first, edited by Janet McCann, contained essays solely on Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar (my review). This volume Critical Insights: Sylvia Plath, edited by William K. Buckley, contains all-original essays on Sylvia Plath's life and works. There are contributions by very well-established Plath scholars (Lynda K. Bundtzen and Tracy Brain, for example) as well as contributions by newer writers. Not all of the contributions are by Plath scholars, which leaves the book a little uneven. That being said, readers will surely enjoy the different approaches and perspectives each contributor brings to their piece.

Highlights of this book include the essays by Gail Crowther, Tracy Brain, Lynda K. Bundtzen, and Cheryl A. Hemmerle. I also really enjoyed Kathleen Connors essay on the Plath archives and Jessica McCort as its focus is on Plath's prose, an area that is still under-studied, and her approach is as unique.

Crowther's essay explores, among other topics, "how the landscape of Plath's childhood, and her fusing of this seascape with her notion of family and loss, haunts her poems from 1958 onward" and employs the theories of Avery Gordon, Gaston Bachelard, and Kevin Hetherington to "look at the role of sociological haunting in the poems of Sylvia Plath" (225, 226). The poems in particular Crowther looks at are "Point Shirley", "Electra on Azalea Path", and "Green Rock, Winthrop Bay". Furthermore, Crowther illustrates the importance of reading Plath's poems and prose (Journals, for example) for their hybridity. Plath's texts routinely haunt themselves just as she haunts us and we haunt her.

Brain's essay "focuses on three historically related sequences of poems from three intensive writing periods"  concerning "female reproduction" ("Morning Song", "Barren Woman", "Heavy Women"), "geographic dislocation" ("Wuthering Heights", "Blackberrying", "Finisterre"), and "the disintegration of a sexual/domestic relationship"("A Birthday Present", "The Detective", "The Courage of Shutting-Up") (70). Brain is phenomenal in her essay and it is the third sequence there that particularly resonated with me, introducing a reading the composition and meaning of the early October 1962 poems (and one from late September) in a completely new light.

Hemmerle's essay I have read several times now and it really does get better and better with each reading. She considers Plath's last poems "hermeneutically with the aid of deconstructionism and reader-response criticism" (273). She identifies rightly so that the poems written in the last two weeks of Plath's life "mark a significant shift from the rest of Plath's oeuvre's, and she considered them a fresh start" and that the "last twelve poems dissolve the boundary between life and death" (273).

I have two pieces myself in the book, the "Biography of Sylvia Plath" and "The Current Critical Reception of Sylvia Plath". I was quite honored to be able to contribute to the volume, it is a true honor to be in published with all the others. I hope in particular the "Biography of Sylvia Plath" --albeit brief (around 6000 words)-- is good reading and presents new information on the writer whether the reader is fresh to Plath or seasoned.

Each purchase of the monograph comes with online access to the book, as well. You won't (I don't think) get PDF's to the text, but you will be able to view each essay or part of the book from your computer, which has its advantages. PDF's would be nice, but you could always copy and paste into Word and then save it as a .doc or .pdf, but that's rather a lot of work. The book is solid and I like (and prefer) the way it feels and reads far more than I do reading the essays online, though obviously reading it online give you full-text search capability. With the online access you have access to the citation, to print the article, to email it or to save it. There is no option to delete it from existence.

Here is a rundown of the contents:

Career, Life, and Influence
On Sylvia Plath, William K. Buckley, pp. 3-12
Biography of Sylvia Plath, Peter K. Steinberg, pp. 13-29

Critical Contexts
Historical and Cultural Background for Sylvia Plath's Poems, Lynda K. Bundtzen, pp. 33-53
The Current Critical Reception of Sylvia Plath, Peter K. Steinberg, pp. 54-69
Story, Body, and Voice: Dating and Grouping Sylvia Plath's Poems, Tracy Brain, pp. 70-91

Critical Readings
Thinking Back through Our Mothers: Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, and Contemporary Women's Poetry, Diann Blakely, pp. 95-116
"A Red-Blooded American Girl": Gender, American Culture, and Sylvia Plath, Jessica McCort, pp. 117-140
Teaching Plath Today, Helen Decker, pp. 141-156
Sylvia Plath: An American Poet, Teresa Marie Laye, pp. 157-175
The Murkiness of The Bell Jar: Questions of Genre and Depression, Melissa Adamo, pp. 176-203
"Herr Lucifer" to Satan's Words to Father as God: The Poetry of Sharon Olds and Sylvia Plath, Renee' Burch, pp. 204-223
"Fifteen years between me and the bay": Haunting Places and the Poems of Sylvia Plath, Gail Crowther, pp. 224-242
Odd Notes of a Plath Archivist, Kathleen Connors, pp. 243-257
Terms of Art: Plath, the Medical Lexicon, and the Human Body in Health and Disease, Ralph Didlake, pp. 258-272
That Still, Blue, Almost Eternal Hour: Touching the Sacred and the Profane in Sylvia Plath's Last Poems, Cheryl A. Hemmerle, pp. 273-295

Chronology of Sylvia Plath's Life 299-303
Works by Sylvia Plath 305-306
Bibliography 307-309
About the Editor 311
Contributors 313-316
Index 317-325

More about the book, from Salem's website:
"Talented from the very beginning of her life, Sylvia Plath published her first poem at the age of eight in the 'children's section' of the Boston Herald. She said of her childhood: 'I want to work at putting together the complex mosaic of my childhood; to practice capturing feelings and experiences from the nebulous seething of memory and yank them out into black-and-white on the typewriter.'" Plath's quote is from circa January 1953 (Unabridged Journals, page 168).

May 2013; Print ISBN: 978-1-4298-3833-7 (Includes Online Access) | eBook E-ISBN: 978-1-4298-3849-8; List Price: $85.

All links accessed 27 July 2013.
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