14 November 2014

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.


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 corrected, 3 and 3 1/4 pp., Wellesley, summer 1950.
6) "Two Gods of Alice Denway," typescript with a few corrections, 6 pp., written for class "English 347a," with annotations by her teacher.
7) "Among the Bumblebees," typescript, 7 pp., Smith College [numers 6 and 7 are different versions of the same story].
8) "Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom," carbon typescript, 22 pp., Smith College [1953], with a letter of rejection from the editor of Mademoiselle.
9) "The Dark River," typescript, 6 1/2 pp.
10) "New England Summer," typescript with a few corrections, 3 1/2 pp., Wellesley
11) "First Date," typescript with a few corrections, 3 1/2 pp., Wellesley.
12) "The Day Mr. Prescott Died," corrected typescript, 1 p. synopsis and 12 pp., 4 p. with typed fragments of other prose works on verso.
13) Untitled story written in the first person by a character named Stanley Edwards, typescript 7 1/2 pp.
14) Incomplete autograph manuscript of a story concerning a 19-year-old college student named Angie, 6 pp. with 2 pp. of notes.
15) Autograph notes and passages from 3 other stories. 16 pp.

A collection of typescripts of 94 poems (plus 9 duplicates) written ca. 1947–55, 33 bearing substantive autograph corrections ranging from the alteration or deletion of a word to major changes.

Lecture notes.
1) Autograph lecture notes from class "Eng. 211, 221 Romanticism" at Smith College, 1951–52, 96 pp. written in ink with some passages underlined in red crayon, in a spiral notebook.
2) Autograph lecture notes from class "40b" at Smith College, 129 pp., written in ink, some passages underlines in ink or red pencil, in a stenographer's notebook.

Smith College.
1) Smith Review, Exam Blues Issue, January 1955, signed in pencil on front wrapper [contains Plath's poem "Dialogue en Route"].
2) Smith Alumnae Quarterly, February 1951 [contains extract from letter from Plath to Mrs. Olive Higgins Prouty].
3) Typescript reading lists for two English classes (1951–2, 1954), both annotated and signed.
4) Typed passage from Lessing, in German, 1 1/2 pp., annotated and signed.
5) Autograph fragment in prose (5 lines) with 3 lines of notes, 1 p.
6) A contact sheet of photographs showing Plath interviewing Elizabeth Bowen, and 4 other photographs (including one of the teenage Plath in a bathing suit and another of her holding her infant daughter).
7) A folder of newspaper clippings and a carbon copy of Plath's thesis, "The Magic Mirror. A Study of the Double in Two of Dostoevsky's Novels," Smith College, 1955.

Typed letter.
Typed letter, [Smith College], 24 April [1953], to Aurelia Plath, typed on the inner fold (12 1/2 x 9 1/4 in.) of a birthday card with autograph inscription "much love to my favorite mummy! your sivvy."

1) Self-portrait, half-length, in a semi-abstract style, ink and gouache on paper, 12 x 11 in., stamp of Plath estate on verso.
2) Self-portrait, ink and colored pencil on paper, cut out and mounted on black paper, 8 1/2 x 7 1/2 in., stamp of Plath estate on verso.

All links accessed 14 November 2014.


Anonymous said...

Hey, you finally have a use for that $150,000-200,000 you have lying around ;-) Just make sure you pass the swag on to a library so we can all have a snoop. ~VC

Peter K Steinberg said...

~VC - You know me. I mean this is chump change, right? I'd hardly fork out that little money for this. I'd want to spend my millions, not hundreds of thousands. Pish. Oh, I hope it ends up at a library!


Anonymous said...

Oh wow! What I would give to own just one of that preacious "item" (dont know the correct word i english,sorry) or just to have the possibility to watch them persobally .. Just out of curiosity, Peter, what are those 3 red "circles" on the sheets with the drawings, are those red lipstick stamped lips?
Hope you can be able to become the owner of some if those pearls of memorabilia.
xx Alessandra

Peter K Steinberg said...

Alessandra! Hi. "items" is a perfect word for this. They do look like lipstick circles. I've seen one before in the archive at the Lilly Library, on an envelope of a letter addressed to SP from Gordon Lameyer postmarked 1 September 1953, so just after her first suicide attempt. I love thinking that Plath was putting lipstick on whilst recovering. This is far outside of my means, this auction. I can barely afford a coffee most days!


Anonymous said...

*some OF those pearls

sorry for typos.. damn mobile phone! :-P

Anonymous said...

Although that'd been better to sip a coffee(also a cheap coffee)but holding in hands one of that beauty (or beautiful items ;-) couldnt imagine it was correct) im sorry u cant take part to the auction..i know the pain ;-) -felt a bit awkward and fetishistic earlier in asking if those were lipstick circles, please dont judge me ;-) or laugh, but i asked only because from mobile phone were so small and barely observable and too "O" shaped to be lips, she kissed the sheets maybe yawning(?) :-P so i wasnt sure,thats why I asked.. didnt want to appear awkwardly curious..

Again kisses (without lipstick) from Florence,* spend a nice weekend.

Please excuse my awful (non)sense of humor jokes but im ill in bed and def need to joke a bit to cheer me up. Hope u didnt mind.

xx Alessandra

Melanie Smith said...

Wow, one can wish!

Hélène said...

I wish I was rich, dang. Love that gouache self portrait, never seen it before. I'm a visual artist, discovered Plath's poetry a couple of years back, and now starting to work on some etchings inspired by her works. Seeing new drawings of hers makes me feel ... Well, all sorts of emotions.

Thank you so much for all your work with the blog, it keeps her alive! I want to go to that auction now :)!

BridgetAnna said...

Oh my god. Oh my. Oh ..... *fainted*

Rehan Qayoom said...

Truly incredibly!

Peter K Steinberg said...

Bridget, Rehan, Hélène & Melanie,

I know. It's mind boggling to think about, that some of this stuff has been unknown to Plath scholars at large. I wish I was rich too, though I'd just buy it and give it to a specific library, frankly.


BridgetAnna said...

So ture about donating it to a live, PKS.

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Publications & Acknowledgements

  • BBC Four.A Poet's Guide to Britain: Sylvia Plath. London: BBC Four, 2009. (Acknowledged in)
  • Biography: Sylvia Plath. New York: A & E Television Networks, 2005. (Photographs used)
  • Connell, Elaine. Sylvia Plath: Killing the angel in the house. 2d ed. Hebden Bridge: Pennine Pens, 1998. (Acknowledged in)
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives." Plath Profiles 2. Summer 2009: 183-208.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives, Redux." Plath Profiles 3. Summer 2010: 232-246.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives 3." Plath Profiles 4. Summer 2011: 119-138.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives 4: Looking for New England." Plath Profiles 5. Summer 2012: 11-56.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives 5: Reanimating the Past." Plath Profiles 6. Summer 2013: 27-62.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. These Ghostly Archives: The Unearthing of Sylvia Plath. Oxford: Fonthill, 2017.
  • Death Be Not Proud: The Graves of Poets. New York: Poets.org. (Photographs used)
  • Doel, Irralie, Lena Friesen and Peter K. Steinberg. "An Unacknowledged Publication by Sylvia Plath." Notes & Queries 56:3. September 2009: 428-430.
  • Elements of Literature, Third Course. Austin, Tex. : Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2009. (Photograph used)
  • Gill, Jo. "Sylvia Plath in the South West." University of Exeter Centre for South West Writing, 2008. (Photograph used)
  • Helle, Anita Plath. The Unraveling Archive: Essays on Sylvia Plath. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2007. (Photographs used, acknowledged in)
  • Helle, Anita. "Lessons from the Archive: Sylvia Plath and the Politics of Memory". Feminist Studies 31:3. Fall 2005: 631-652.. (Acknowledged in)
  • Holden, Constance. "Sad Poets' Society." Science Magazine. 27 July 2008. (Photograph used)
  • Making Trouble: Three Generations of Funny Jewish Women, Motion Picture. Directed by Rachel Talbot. Brookline (Mass.): Jewish Women's Archive, 2007. (Photograph used)
  • Plath, Sylvia, and Karen V. Kukil. The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, 1950-1962. New York: Anchor Books, 2000. (Acknowledged in)
  • Plath, Sylvia, and Peter K. Steinberg and Karen V. Kukil (eds.). The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Volume 1, 1940-1956. London: Faber, 2017.
  • Plath, Sylvia, and Peter K. Steinberg and Karen V. Kukil (eds.). The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Volume 2, 1956-1963. London: Faber, 2018.
  • Plath, Sylvia. Glassklokken. Oslo: De norske Bokklubbene, 2004. (Photograph used on cover)
  • Reiff, Raychel Haugrud. Sylvia Plath: The Bell Jar and Poems (Writers and Their Works). Marshall Cavendish Children's Books, 2008.. (Images provided)
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "'A Fetish: Somehow': A Sylvia Plath Bookmark." Court Green 13. 2017.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "'I Should Be Loving This': Sylvia Plath's 'The Perfect Place' and The Bell Jar." Plath Profiles 1. Summer 2008: 253-262.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "'They Had to Call and Call': The Search for Sylvia Plath." Plath Profiles 3. Summer 2010: 106-132.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "A Perfectly Beautiful Time: Sylvia Plath at Camp Helen Storrow." Plath Profiles 4. Summer 2011: 149-166.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "Proof of Plath." Fine Books & Collections 9:2. Spring 2011: 11-12.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "Sylvia Plath." The Spoken Word: Sylvia Plath. London: British Library, 2010.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "Textual Variations in The Bell Jar Publications." Plath Profiles 5. Summer 2012.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "The Persistence of Plath." Fine Books & Collections. Autumn 2017: 24-29
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "This is a Celebration: A Festschrift for The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath." Plath Profiles 3 Supplement. Fall 2010: 3-14.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "Writing Life" [Introduction]. Sylvia Plath in Devon: A Year's Turning. Stroud, Eng.: Fonthill Media, 2014.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. Sylvia Plath (Great Writers). Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2004.