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Showing posts from 2014

Sylvia Plath 2014: Year in Review

After the chaos of 2013 in the world Sylvia Plath, I think I was not too surprised that 2014 was a far quieter year. In fact, I think a lot of us needed that from what was an over-saturation of stuff. Unlike last year, there were very few major newspaper articles about Plath, as well as fewer scholarly essays published during the course of this year. At the present time just one new book published about Plath. Squeaking in under the wire, Gail Crowther's and Elizabeth Sigmund's biography & memoir of dual authorship  Sylvia Plath in Devon: A Year's Turning  ( Fonthill Media ) was published in December. The book features some of Elizabeth's memories of her friend, and an excellent, full length biographical treatment by Gail of Plath's time in Devon from September 1961 to early December 1962. It is the best assessment of that amazing year and period in Plath's life I have ever read, and was honored to be asked by both Gail and Elizabeth to write the "Int

Sylvia Plath scholar Sally Bayley's The Private Life of the Diary

The author, Sally Bayley Teaching and Research Fellow at the Rothermere American Institute, University of Oxford and a Lecturer in English at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, Dr. Sally Bayley, contributor to Eye Rhymes: Sylvia Plath's Art of the Visual , co-editor of Representing Sylvia Plath , and author of several other articles on Sylvia Plath, is in the process of seeing her most recent book The Private Life of the Diary: from Pepys to Tweets (Unbound Books) through to completion. As you might expect from Sally and a book of diary writing, the book features Sylvia Plath who was a dedicated diary writer and journalist for nearly 20 of her 30 years. Here are some excerpts for you from the book; specially selected and published here with permission from the author and publisher: "...Plath, on the other hand, wants to be a good witness of life; she wishes to see and tell things as they are, and so her adolescent journals, kept from the age of fifteen, are filled with care

Signal to Noise: Reading Ted Hughes papers at the British Library

The following is a guest post by the poet and Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes scholar Christine Walde. Thank you, Christine! As a poet, librarian and researcher, I have been fortunate to visit Plath's archive at the Mortimer Rare Book Room at Smith College and at the Lilly Library at Indiana University. Each site, owing to the scope and extent of their collections, has their own depth and complexity. And each time, whether I have expected it or not, each visit has bore new discoveries and revelations, both surprising and serendipitous. It's not uncommon that a special kind of magic happens in the archive. What makes Plath's archive unique — with its drafts and diaries and letters and essays and art and ephemera— is that it is, quite literally, a hive, a site of noise, made all the more audible by her silence in death. I admit to being seduced by this opposition of volumes. Reading poetry often involves the decoding of noise and silence, sifting through the information t

The Sylvia Plath Time Machine: Sotheby's 6 April 1982 & 2 December 2014

The 2 December 2014 auction of Sylvia Plath manuscripts , typescripts, lecture notes, artwork, a letter and photographs, among other items, is a massive treasure of her "early" works. The auction was held today in New York City as Lot 121 of the Fine Books & Manuscripts, including Americana Sale N09237. The lot came in at an estimate of $150,000-$250,000 and was one of the highest estimates to its point in the auction. While there were bids, starting at $90,000 and ending at $120,000, the lot unfortunately failed to sell, likely not meeting a reserve. Who wants to take a trip on the Sylvia Plath Time Machine? A provenance note on the auction catalog indicates the material originally sold, also by Sotheby's, at auction on 6 April 1982. The auction took place around the time of some major Sylvia Plath publications: The Collected Poems came out on 25 November 1981; The Journals of Sylvia Plath (abridged) came out on 31 March 1982; and the announcement of the P

Jeffrey Meyers on Sylvia Plath's Heritage

Jeffrey Meyers'  "The German Plath" published in the November 2014 issue (volume 33, number 3, pages 77-80) of the New Criterion is his second publication on Sylvia Plath this year. The first "Plath's Rapist" was published by London Magazine in their June-July number. It was discussed at length on this blog here . It is clear that Meyers has a high regard and interest in Sylvia Plath, he is exploring topics that in some cases are under emphasized ( some of his articles are listed in this 2010 blog post ), but as with "Plath's Rapist", in "The German Plath" Meyers tips the scales, or, falls overboard, and has written largely a piece of drivel. The premise of the article is: "Sylvia Plath was born into German culture … Plath had all the quintessential German qualities: she was clean, orderly, punctual, meticulous, disciplined, industrious, conformist, and obedient ... Her father’s virtual suicide, which she referred to obsessiv

Did you know... Sylvia Plath at Yaddo

Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes were guests at Yaddo in Saratoga Springs, New York, from 9 September-19 November 1959. They were recommended for invitation by Newton Arvin and Richard Eberhart. In the admission process, they were graded by their peers. Plath received grades of B (Richard Eberhart), A (J[ohn] C[heever]?), and a Strong B or B plus (Morton D Zabel). Hughes received grades of A (J[ohn] C[heever]?), B (Richard Eberhart), and Good B (Morton D Zabel). Did you know who the other guests and residents were at Yaddo at the same time as Plath and Hughes were there? There was a director's meeting from 25-27 September, which meant that the following people were there for a few short days under different conditions and expectations. In the list, following their names are their occupation, whether they were a director or a member, and which room(s) they were assigned: Newton Arvin (writer; Director, Dew); Robert Coates (writer; Member, Mt. View); Malcolm Cowley (writer; Dir

Major Sylvia Plath Archive Auction at Sotheby's on 2 December 2014

Sotheby's is auctioning a major archive of Sylvia Plath materials including stories, poems, a letter, photographs, lecture notes and other items in New York City on 2 December 2014. It's all I can do not to pass out. Sylvia Plath: AN ARCHIVE OF PLATH'S EARLY POETRY AND SHORT STORIES (BOTH MANUSCRIPT AND TYPESCRIPT), COLLEGE LECTURE NOTES, A TYPED LETTER, AND TWO SELF-PORTRAITS IN INK AND CRAYON. WELLESLEY AND NORTHAMPTON, MASSACHUSETTS, C. 1946–1954 The archive comprises: Short stories. Autograph manuscripts and typescripts, 1946–1953 where dated, as follows: 1) "On the Penthouse Roof," autograph manuscript in pencil, 3 1/2 pp., 18 May 1946. 2) "The Mummy's Tomb," autograph manuscript in pencil, 4 pp., 17 May 1946. 3) "Gramercy Park," typescript with a few corrections, 6 pp. [1948]. 4) "The Green Rock," two typescripts, one corrected, 11 and 12 pp. 5) "The International Flavor," two typescripts, one corre

"We Shall Never Enter There": Sylvia Plath and The Burnt-out Spa

On Sunday 8 November 1959, Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes were in the last days of their 11 week stay at Yaddo in Saratoga Springs, New York. Plath's journal entry from a few days later says, "I wrote a good poem this week on our walk Sunday to the burnt-out spa. A second book poem. How it consoles me, the idea of a second book with these new poems: The Manor Garden, The Colossus, The Burnt-out Spa, the seven Birthday poems, and perhaps Medallion …" (526). The burnt-out spa has for a while be something of an enigma to me. I visited Yaddo for a day in 2001, but did not think to seek out the "burnt-out spa" at the time. It has been on my mind for a while to revisit the town, and over the weekend of 20-21 September did just that, as part of a trip that included a rare tour of the buildings and grounds of so venerable a place . In preparation for the visit, I contacted the city's library to inquire if anyone knew anything about the place that inspired this Plath

Collecting Sylvia Plath

In advance of the 38th Annual Boston Antiquarian Book Fair in two weeks, and inspired by David Trinidad's compelling and fascinating June blog post, Collecting Sylvia Plath , on the Poetry Foundation's website , I am left induced to share some of my own assembled ephemera relating to Sylvia Plath. It would be foolish to try to replicate the enthusiasm and sincerity in David's blog post; however, I can unequivocally state that in collecting these bits and pieces of Plathiana, I do feel sometimes to gain a better perspective on her biographically and bibliographically: for both those publications she saw during her lifetime, as well as the ones that appeared after she died. Two of the most recent acquisitions came together from The Poetry Bookshop in Hay-on-Wye. When collecting anything, it is fun and informative to know the provenance of the item. This is not always possible, but in this instance, the items formerly belonged to long-time BBC producer Fred Hunter ( obit ;

Gail Crowther & Elizabeth Sigmund on Sylvia Plath in Devon: A New Book

What better way to remember Sylvia Plath's birthday today than by announcing the forthcoming publication of an exciting new book? Sylvia Plath's friend, and dedicatee of The Bell Jar, Elizabeth Sigmund and Plath scholar Gail Crowther have joined forces in the forthcoming book Sylvia Plath in Devon: A Year's Turning to be published in early 2015 by Fonthill. As of right now, the scheduled publication date is 14 February 2015. The book will be available from Fonthill, as well as via Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com . From the Amazon blurb: Sylvia Plath in Devon: A Year's Turning is part memoir, part biography focusing on the fifteen months that Sylvia Plath lived in North Tawton, Devon from September 1961 to December 1962. This was an extraordinary time for Plath as she finished the proofs on her first novel The Bell Jar and in the autumn of 1962 produced most of her dazzling "Ariel" poems. Elizabeth Sigmund recalls the year of her friendship with Plath

Articles about Sylvia Plath

It has been quite a while since this blog has had news of "academic" (used alternatingly seriously and sarcastically) articles on Sylvia Plath. So, let us play catch up with some recent(ish) writing that you might find interesting. Below each entry is an annotation or summary, that may or may not be helpful? Currey, Mason. "Sylvia Plath." In Daily Rituals: How Artists Work . New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013: 109.           A brief page long entry on Plath's "near-constant struggle to find and stick to a productive writing schedule" (109). Currey cites a few instances in Plath's journals where she tries to dictate her self into routine. The entry mentions Plath's October 1962 routine of rising early and writing before her children woke up. Garfield, Simon. "The Modern Master." In To the Letter: A Journey Through a Vanishing World . New York: Gotham Books, 2013: 360-384.           Wonderful article primarily on the letter writing o

Sylvia Plath Collections: ICA Archives

In a letter to her mother dated 24 June 1960 and excerpted in Letters Home , Sylvia Plath wrote about attending a cocktail party for W.H. Auden "last night" at Faber and Faber's (then located at 24 Russell Square ( map ). On this occasion, Plath witnessed Hughes being photographed with T.S. Eliot, Stephen Spender, Louis MacNeice, and W. H. Auden . After the party, she said: "Then we went to the Institute of Contemporary Arts and read our poems to an audience of about 25-30 young people with another poet (or, rather, non-poet; very dull)" (386). I was curious about this poetry reading, about who the "dull" "non-poet" was, and so searched to see if the Institute of Contemporary Arts had an archive anywhere. I started at the ICA website and then learned that the records for the period covering Plath's lifetime are held in the Tate Museum archives . The ICA London is among the Tate's list of all archival collections ( TGA 955 ) and

I know your estate so well: Sylvia Plath at Yaddo

The Grand Manor, Yaddo On Sunday 21 September 2014, Yaddo in Saratoga Springs, New York, opened its doors to visitors for a day of tours. At $50 a ticket, it seemed a reasonable price to pay for infrequent public access into this retreat for artists. Naturally you will surmise I was interested in seeing the site as Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes were a guests for eleven weeks from 9 September to 19 November 1959. The tour consisted of 15 stops which included the first two floors of "The Grand Manor" as well as the ground floor of West House, and a swing by Pine Garde and the new Greenhouse Studios , built on the site of a couple of other previous greenhouses. Sadly, there was not one mention of Plath on my tour! My particular tour, consisting of 25 people, started at the Greenhouse Studios, then proceeded to Pine Garde. Then on to West House before ending in the mansion itself. I could not have been happier at this as it got out of the way the things with which I was not