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Showing posts from 2015

Sylvia Plath 2015: Year in Review

In the past, the year in review has tried to summarize the small world of Sylvia Plath as I live it. I suspect this post will be no different. Rather than go through the blog month by month, I trust that the blog archive in the sidebar will be a sufficient way for many of you to access the posts that appeared in the calendar year 2015. By and large this year was dominated for me in two respects. The first is the Letters of Sylvia Plath project, a book which I am co-editing with Karen V. Kukil of Smith College for Frieda Hughes to be published by Faber. From the beginning of the project which officially was underway in 2013 -- but which I have been working on since circa 2010 -- it has been a privilege to read, transcribe, annotate, index, etc. all of the known letters by Sylvia Plath. I am not at liberty to say too, too much about the letters or the project now but suffice it to say someday I will. Each and every one of the thousands of hours I have spent on this project has been wi

Plath, Otto Plath

The following is a post first started between June and December 2012, revisited briefly in June 2014, and then forgotten about as I was working full time on the letters of Sylvia Plath project. I felt it was important to work on the blog some more this fall with the intention of posting it on 5 November, which was the 75th anniversary of the death of Otto Plath. But then other things got in the way... Recently, though, I had a change of heart about the bulk of this post. Much of what I wanted to say I learned years ago but will refrain from posting now as I believe that Heather Clark, in her forthcoming biography of Sylvia Plath, will discuss at beautiful and thorough length the history and biography of Otto Plath. However, what I do still want to relate is interesting information I obtained Warren's Plath's daughter Susan in June 2014 concerning something Paul Alexander wrote as fact in his biography of Sylvia Plath, Rough Magic . Alexander writes, "On April 13, 188

When Sylvia Plath Rocked Cleveland

In late September and early October I took a vacation, the purpose of which was to enjoy the last hold of summer and enjoy the American pastime: baseball. I found myself in Cleveland, Ohio, a city in which there is almost nothing to do (it took me 6 hours of walking around just to find a postcard). So, before attending the Minnesota Twins versus the Cleveland Indians baseball game that night, a game won by the Twins and in which I caught a home run ball hit during Twins batting practice, I visited the Cleveland Public Library to, of course, look through microfilm of their 1953 newspapers. As you do, right? The Cleveland Plain-Dealer was available through a database but I did not find an article there. Two other papers, the Cleveland News and the Cleveland Press were available on microfilm only so I spent an hour or so looking through the papers this way. Happily! I found one article in each paper, which adds to the list of articles on Plath's first suicide attempt/disappea

"'Viciousness in the Kitchen': The Backstory of Sylvia Plath's 'Lesbos'" by David Trinidad

Poet and writer David Trinidad has a new essay on Sylvia Plath: "'Viciousness in the Kitchen': The Backstory of Sylvia Plath's 'Lesbos'" published today on Blackbird out of Virginia Commonwealth University. For various reasons, the piece had to be published without the images that David intended. So as a complement to the piece, I have agreed to publish the photographs here on the Sylvia Plath Info Blog. Sylvia Plath and her children at Court Green, spring 1962 Marvin Kane, circa 1961 Cadbury House, 2010. ©Derek Harper "Lesbos" beach: "the most heavenly gold sands by emerald sea." Beyond the stone arch, the only cottage in Hicks Court with "a sort of cement well." Could this be "Quaintways"? 2010, ©Gail Crowther Lane to "Lesbos" beach, 2010, ©Gail Crowther "Lesbos" beach, 2010, ©Gail Crowther "Lesbos" beach, 2010, ©Gail Crowther Memo

Sales Results: Two Sylvia Plath Lots at Bonhams Knightsbridge

As reported on 10 October 2015 in this blog post , there were two Sylvia Plath lots at the Fine Books, Maps and Manuscripts auction via Bonhams Knightsbridge auction today in London. The two Sylvia Plath lots just finished. Lot 120 featured an autograph manuscript of Plath's early short story "The Mummy's Tomb". Lot 121 featured annotated typescripts of five poems written when Plath was a student in high school and at Smith College: "acquatic nocturne", "Terminal", "Van Winkle's Village", "The Dark River (P.N.)", and "The Invalid". Lot 120 sold for £5,000 ($7,559)  also blowing passed the high estimate. Price includes buyers premium. Lot 121 sold for £13,750 ($20,789) annihilating the high estimate. Price includes buyers premium. Go Plath. That was intense and interesting bidding to watch online! All links accessed 10 November 2015.

A Penny for Sylvia Plath's Thoughts...

In February 1955, Mademoiselle published a special "twentieth anniversary issue". One of the sections of this issue did a year-by-year review of highlights and Sylvia Plath was mentioned as one for 1952. This was the year in which her short story "Sunday at the Mintons'" was published and won first prize in the College Fiction Contest. Mademoiselle , March 1955 We know Plath read this February 1955 issue for two reasons. One is that Cyrilly Abels sent Plath a telegram (held by the Lilly Library) on 1 March 1955 saying "Thanks for your fine words about February and also for the stories". It is possible this is in reference to three stories Plath sent to Abels on 30 January 1955: "The Day Mr. Prescott Died", "Tongues of Stone", and "Superman and Paula Brown's New Snowsuit". The second reason we know Plath read the February 1955 issue is because in their March 1955 issue, Mademoiselle printed Plath's brief acc

Parliament Hill Fields: In the Footsteps of Sylvia Plath

The following is a guest blog post by Sheila Hamilton. Thank you, Sheila! Sylvia Plath wrote the poem "Parliament Hill Fields" in February 1961, in London, very shortly after suffering the miscarriage which is the poem's subject. In the poem, the narrator walks in a wintry landscape and ponders the loss ("Already your doll grip lets go.") Towards the end of the poem, there is a sense of renewed life. At this time, Plath, Ted Hughes and their baby daughter Frieda were living in a small flat on Chalcot Square, maybe a mile away from Hampstead Heath of which Parliament Hill Fields are a part. Like many London dwellers, they would have enjoyed access to the Heath, sometimes referred to as "London's green lungs", a spacious place of grass and trees, birds and ponds, secluded glades overgrown with ivy, bramble and nettle, quiet meadows and, here and there, wonderful views of the city. Once marshy and very much outside London, part farmland, part privat

Two Sylvia Plath Lots at Bonhams in November

Bonhams will offer two small Sylvia Plath lots in their 11 November 2015 sale at Knightsbridge in London . "The Mummy's Tomb", from Bonhams Lot 120 features an "Autograph manuscript of her early story 'The Mummy's Tomb', headed by her: ' The Mummy's Tomb / by Sylvia Plath/ May 17, 1946". The estimate is £1,500 - 2,000 (US$ 2,300 - 3,100). The lot details read: "Autograph manuscript of her early story 'The Mummy's Tomb', headed by her: "The Mummy's Tomb/ by Sylvia Plath/ May 17, 1946", opening: "I had come to the museum to do some research work on Egypt for my history notebook...", recounting the gothic tale of a girl's nocturnal visit to a display of mummies and her encounter with their sinister keeper ("...'Ha!' he leered, 'you got away yesterday, but you won't now. I'll muffle your screams of anguish and let you die from loss of blood and in terrible pain. Yo

Linda Freedman on Sylvia Plath and The New Yorker

The essay on Sylvia Plath by Linda Freedman that appears in Fiona Green’s edited collection Writing for The New Yorker: Critical Essays on an American Periodical (Edinburgh University Press, 2015), is entitled: "Sylvia Plath and 'The Blessed Glossy New Yorker '". On the surface, this is a brilliant title for an essay that considers a subject that should prove fascinating. Plath coveted just about everything about The New Yorker : the typeface, the cartoons, the quality of the writers it published,the content; even the sheen of the paper. However, Freedman's treatment of Plath and The New Yorker is wanting; the essay suffers from distinctive gaps and oversights which suggest a lack of familiarity with the subject. The initial disillusionment comes in Freedman’s second paragraph when she states: "even though her [Plath's] work appears more frequently in other periodicals such as the Ladies' Home Journal , Mademoiselle , and Seventeen " (118).

A bit of a professional: Sylvia Plath

The following is a guest blog post by Katie Mikulka, Smith College '16  (American Studies & Archives) . Originally published on the National Portrait Gallery's blog, facetoface, on 10 August 2015 , I am very pleased to re-post the piece here and hope that by doing so there builds excitement about the forthcoming 2017-2018 exhibit. Sylvia Plath's Royal typewriter Photograph courtesy of Smith College / Samuel Masinter. Perhaps one of the best known American poets of the 20th century, Sylvia Plath has captivated generation after generation of readers. But even the most dedicated of Plath fans might not know that the poet's career got an early start, at the age of only eight! On this day, August 10, in 1941, Sylvia Plath's first published poem was printed in a local Boston newspaper. She continued to publish work throughout high school, in popular magazines such as Seventeen , and while a student at Smith College. When asked in a 1962 radio interview how sh

Sylvia Plath's copy of Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead

Earlier this summer I had the opportunity to work with Sylvia Plath's copy of Ayn Rand's novel The Fountainhead which is held privately. Sylvia Plath's library is largely divided between three major collections: Emory University, Indiana University, and Smith College. For several years now I have maintained a reconstruction of Plath's library (if you will) via LibraryThing as a part of their Legacy Library project. This list includes books not only owned by Plath at the time of her death, but also books Plath mentioned in her letters and journals, as well as those that appear in papers she wrote and other archival documents. There is still work to be done in the project so check her catalog periodically. The three main collections can be looked at the following way: those at Indiana University were books that Plath left behind when she moved permanently to England in December 1959; those at Smith College were books Plath had with her in England at the time of her