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Showing posts from March, 2014

Sylvia Plath's Passport, Part Two

A while back ( 13 December 2009 ), I did a post that involved looking at statements or assertions made in Paul Alexander's biography of Sylvia Plath Rough Magic regarding a supposed abortion had by Plath circa September 1955. Since then I have looked some more at Plath's passports, trying to figure out her travel routes and the cities through which she passed - even if only fleetingly in the carriage of train. I started this post in February 2012 and feel like it is time to post it! There are two passports of Plath's. The first she used from 1955 through 1957 is now held by Indiana University; the second was in use from 1959 until 1963 (though the last stamp is from 1961 -- when Plath visited Wales and Ireland in 1962 she did not receive stamps). The second passport is now held by Emory University. As such, I have broken this post up into two parts: the first part (which is part two if you consider the post from 2009 to be part one) will examine Plath's first passp

Sightseeing Sylvia Plath's England

Over four days in February, from the 8th to the 11th, I conducted a tour to three Americans of Sylvia Plath sites in England. While I have given dozens of tours of Massachusetts Plath-sites to people from the US, Canada, England, Wales, Ireland, Germany, Sweden, and France, this was a first. It was an opportunity that seemed too good to be true: an expenses paid trip to England! To make a long story short, I thought about it for a few days after it was offered and decided I had to do it. As I have no idea if this could turn into something I might more regularly do (please inquire if you are interested for terms), many of the details below will remain vague. The group consisted of Jeff, Suzanne, and Diane, and featured two guest appearances by Gail Crowther. I was put at ease by Jeff's comment that I had "already forgotten more about Sylvia Plath than they will ever know". While that might not necessarily be true, the chance to bring people to Plath sites and present the

How Rare is Sylvia Plath's The Colossus (1960)?

A couple of years ago, I learned and reported that the first edition print run for a Victoria Lucas Bell Jar  (Heinemann, 1963, pictured right) was 2,000. This is an interesting number to know because it helps us recognize the scarcity of Plath's novel. The number was described in Stephen Tabor's incomparable  Sylvia Plath: An Annotated Bibliography as a "token quantity". Recently I learned from a bookseller in England, Giles Bird O.B.E. of BAS Ltd. in London, that the first printing of Plath's 1960 volume of poetry The Colossus was a number far less than that of The Bell Jar . (He in turn, it should be said, was provided with the figure by the amazing Jean Rose, an archivist at Random House Group UK which holds Heinemann's archives.) Anyone want to take a guess as to the number? My first reaction was shock. However, shock might have been a premature evaluation. After all, Heinemann was not normally a publisher of poetry. And in light of the fact that

Sylvia Plath and the SS United States

Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes sailed from New York City to Southampton, England on the SS United States , which called itself, rightly, the "world's fastest ship". They set sail on 9 December 1959 and arrived in Southampton, England, on 14 December after a brief stop in Le Harve, France. Plath booked their passage from the United States Lines offices then located in Copley Square at 563 Boylston Street, Boston. The location is now a beer and wine shop filled with Boston's finest drunks (pictured right). Plath began working on arrangements before Yaddo as her 1959-issued passport (held by Emory University) is dated 8 September 1959; and by 28 October 1959 was writing to her mother to enquire about getting withdrawal slips and or checks for the remainder of their ship-fare payment settled. There is an entry for the United States Lines Boston office in her address book, which is held at Smith College, with a notation (an appointment, possibly) that suggests she went th