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Showing posts from December, 2013

Sylvia Plath 2013: Year in Review

How do you summarize 2013 for Sylvia Plath? I think the word I would choose would be inundated. Do I mean that negatively? Heck no. But it was a big, busy year. Longer feeling than its 365 days. Three major biographies were published: American Isis: The Life and Art of Sylvia Plath by Carl Rollyson;  Mad Girl's Love Song: Sylvia Plath and Life before Ted by Andrew Wilson; and Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia Plath in New York, Summer 1953 by Elizabeth Winder. And, several re-issues and new editions of her own books, as well as dozens upon dozens, if not hundreds, of newspapers and online articles were written about her. A new publication, too, saw the light of day in Sylvia Plath: Drawings (Faber, September; and Harper, November). And then there is by far the larger media that is basically rubbish name-drops that get picked up and distributed… but those are easily enough ignored and forgotten. Early in the year I started tracking the bigger articles and made a page on this blog th

Sylvia Plath Collections: Letter to Dorothea Krook, Central Zionist Archives

As with the previous post on the letter co-written by Plath to Irwin Edman , this post focuses primarily on one original Plath document. Sylvia Plath admired greatly her Cambridge don Dorothea Krook (later Krook-Gilead). In journals and letters, Plath sung her praises. She was one of the "brilliant young" women Plath knew ( Unabridged Journals , 225), and to her mother on 29 April 1956, she wrote: "My philosophy supervisor, Dorothea Krook, is more than a miracle!" ( Letters Home , 243). Plath often put Krook on the same level that she did her "psychiatrist" Dr. Ruth Beuscher. By February 1957, Plath had become so familiar with Krook that she started to refer to her by the nickname "Doris". (Among other faults, one of the more disingenuous comments in Plath's abridged Journals appears on the footnote to the quote above about Krook being one of the brilliant young women. The editorial comment reads in part, "Plath frequently--and inexpl

Sylvia Plath Collections: Irwin Edman papers at Columbia

The Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University holds the Irwin Edman papers, [ca 1930]-1954 ( Finding Aid ). There are two Sylvia Plath items in this collection. I know what you are thinking: Who was Irwin Edman? The short answer is that Edman (1896-1954) was Professor of philosophy at Columbia University. The items in the collection are a letter co-authored by Plath and Gamaliel Bradford Senior High School classmate Jeanne Woods dated 15 March 1949 and his reply, dated 28 March 1949. In their 15 March letter, Plath and Woods respond to Edman's March 1949 article "A Reasonable Life in a Mad World" from the Atlantic Monthly (pages 60-62). The letter is a mixture of sanctimoniousness with aspects Christian ideology. Plath at the time of this letter was a junior in High School and was writing on behalf of her English 31 class which was under the tutelage of Wilbury Crockett. The authors of the letter credit Edman with writing logically on the subject bu

Sylvia Plath Collections: Lost and Not Found

Not every one of my archival searches for Sylvia Plath materials in libraries and special collections has been successful. As you will have noticed from some of this series of posts on Sylvia Plath collections, I have gone after journals and periodicals to which Plath submitted her work. Two archives I contacted confirmed that they had no letters or typescripts from Plath. Those are the records of the  Antioch Review (housed at the Lilly Library of Indiana University) and the Partisan Review (housed at Boston University's Howard Gottlieb Archival Research Center ). The Partisan does have a carbon of one letter to Plath. Antioch Review published "Black Rook in Rainy Weather" by Plath in their June 1957 issue. The Antioch Review records were sold to the Lilly Library a couple of years ago. ( More on what is in the Antioch Review records here .) Partisan Review published Plath's "I Want, I Want" in their Fall 1959 number and "Metaphors for a Pre

Sylvia Plath Collections: London Magazine

The archives of the London Magazine are held, along with so many other amazing archives, at the Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin . Sylvia Plath had her poems, stories and other prose published in the London Magazine from June 1958 ("Spinster" and "Black Rook in Rainy Weather") through January 1963 ("The Applicant" and "Stopped Dead") in her lifetime and also made appearances after her death, from April 1963 and beyond. Plath dealt with a few people on the staff of the magazine over the years, including John Lehmann, Charles Osborne, and Alan Ross. In addition to what was found at the University of Texas, I would be remiss if I did not mention that the Mortimer Rare Book Room of Smith College has photocopies of a number of Plath's letters to Lehmann and Osborne. These are contained in the Edward Butscher papers . Presumably the originals of these letters are with the London Magazine records in Texas, but as I have seen

Sylvia Plath Collections: Peter Davison papers at Yale

There are 20 letters from Sylvia Plath to Peter Davison and other staff members of The Atlantic Monthly in the Peter Davison papers , held by the Beinecke Library at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut ( PDF Finding Aid ). The letters are in Box 7, in a folder labeled "Plath, Sylvia." Additionally, there are letters from Ted Hughes, and one from Aurelia Plath to Davison, dated 31 July 1982. Sincere, deep thanks need to be expressed to David Trinidad for pointing out this collection to us. The letters are largely related to submissions of Plath's, but a few of them to Davison are more personal, newsy letters. Below is an inventory of the letters by date along with a synopsis of the letter. Unless otherwise stated, the letters are from Sylvia Plath. 12 February 1955, to Atlantic Monthly : Plath questions the five month wait for her submission of seven poems from 29 September 1954 ("Never Try To Know More Than You Should," "Verbal Calisthentics [s