27 January 2015

Sylvia Plath Collections: Letter to Eleanor Ross Taylor, Vanderbilt

The Special Collections and University Archives of Vanderbilt University's Jean and Alexander Heard Library The Peter Taylor Papers (MSS. 435) holds one letter from Sylvia Plath to Taylor's wife, the poet Eleanor Ross Taylor. The letter is held in Series 1: Correspondence, Incoming Correspondence, Box 4, Folder 12: Page - Plath. The handwritten letter is simply dated Friday by Plath, but the postmark on the retained envelope indicates that it was written and sent from London NW1 on Friday 27 January 1961. However, there is a faint, ghostly postmark stamp underneath from a Kensington post office, dated 1 February 1961 (a Wednesday). I wonder if there was a delay in delivering the letter?

9 Princess Street, London NW1
Speaking of postmarks... a short diversion. Did you know that when Plath lived in Primrose Hill -- at both 3 Chalcot Square and 23 Fitzroy Road -- her post office was located at 9 Princess Street (map)? The current post office is at 91 Regents Park Road (map),

The letter is brief, just two paragraphs of one sentence each and is signed under her married name Sylvia Hughes. The letter politely cancels plans to meet on Saturday night in part because it was Plath's turn to work at the office (The Bookseller) and hopes they can arrange to meet again sometime in the future. The letter was sent to the Taylor's at 25 Kensington Gate, London (map).

If you search the Taylor collections at Vanderbilt, you will also see another finding aid for a different collection of his papers: The Peter Taylor Papers (MSS. 591). This collection, too, has a hit for Plath in Series 1: Correspondence, Incoming Correspondence, Box 6 (O-Q), Folder 8: Pierce - Plath. However, this is the wrong Plath! This one is from James Plath and is dated April 17, 1990. Its subject is the new independent arts journal, Clockwatch Review.

Thanks to Molly Dohrmann of Special Collections and University Archives Vanderbilt University for her assistance.

Eleanor Ross Taylor reviewed Ariel in her article "Sylvia Plath's Last Poems" in January 1967 issue of Poetry (pages 260-262). A couple of years back, some books (maybe all?) from the Taylor's library were sold via Between the Covers Rare Books. Among those books was Eleanor Ross Taylor's Ariel, with her ownership signature on the front free end paper, which I received as a gift from a friend.

All links accessed 3 June 2014 and 27 January 2015.

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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.