25 June 2016

Researching Sylvia Plath

In addition to conducting my own research and writing on Sylvia Plath, one of the things I enjoy most is helping others with their research. I am truly flattered that so many people write to ask questions about Sylvia Plath. It means very much to me that I am a person to whom increasing numbers of scholars and readers come to for answers. However, because these reference queries take anywhere from one hour to several days, and because this is increasingly causing disruption to my own work, as of today I will charge a standard research associate rate for all Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes queries that come my way. The minimum will be for one hour's work at a fee of $30 per hour.

In the last few years, I have hired research by proxy help for various Plath-related projects. I truly appreciate this assistance from others, but I do not expect them to give their time, knowledge and research findings for free. It seems that if I am to be used for similar purposes, then I too should get recompense for my time and for the services that I am providing for others.

Thank you all for your anticipated understanding with this decision I have had to make.

In the meantime, please look forward to some new blog posts in July.

15 June 2016

Sylvia Plath auction at Bonhams: The Results

This post was revised on 17 July 2016.

Several Sylvia Plath lots of typescripts and books were offered today at Bonhams Knighstbridge as part of their Fine Books, Manuscripts, and Original Illustrations sale. I listened to the action of the auction live online and let me just say my stomach was turning somersaults and I was feeling anxious...and I was not even bidding. It is exciting and thrilling to bear witness to these sales: a true rush full of wonder.

The first five lots (167-171) were from the larger Plath archive that has been up for sale, piecemeal, after the whole archive failed to sell via Sotheby's in December 2014. Initially only one of the lots sold, however in doing some follow-up research, I learned that all five lots in the end did sell.

The second lots (172-174) are books formerly belonging to Winifred Davies, Plath's Devon midwife and friend. To sum these lots, the first two sold for above the high estimate and The Bell Jar lot sold for the high estimate exactly. Frankly I'm surprised these prices were not higher, especially for the Plath books.

Below are the lots and descriptions with the sale prices (inclusive of premiums/fees/etc.) listed in bold. If you are the winner: Oh, lucky, lucky you!

Lot 167
Sylvia Plath, Typescript draft, with autograph revisions, of her story "The Green Rock", and typescript of "Gramercy Park", with occasional annotations, 1948-9.
Sold £875 / $1,169

Lot 168
Sylvia Plath
Typescript draft with autograph revisions of her poem ʻSeek No More the Young', here with the deleted typed title "Latvian Threnody", [March 1949].
Sold for £937 / $1,330

Lot 169
Sylvia Plath
Carbon typescript of her story "Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom", with letter of rejection from Mademoiselle magazine, 11 March 1953.
Sold for £625 / $835

Lot 170
Sylvia Plath
Two draft typescripts, in successive versions, of her poem "Go Get the Goodly Squab", Smith College, April 1953; ʻSOLD TO HARPER'S – APRIL 1953' – SYLVIA PLATH RECEIVES HER ʻFIRST REAL PROFESSIONAL ACCEPTANCE' AS A POET.
Sold for £625 / $835

Lot 171
Sylvia Plath
Typescripts and carbon typescripts of six poems, comprising: "Spring Sacrament", "Eve Describes Her Birthday Party", "To Ariadne (deserted by Theseus)" with copy, "Tulips at Dawn", "Spring Again".
Sold £875 / $1,169

Lot 172
Sylvia Plath
The Colossus & Other Poems, first American edition, AUTHOR'S PRESENTATION COPY, INSCRIBED "For Winifred & Garnett with warmest good wishes - Sylvia Court Green: 1962" on the front free endpaper, New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1962.
Sold for £8,750 / $12,413
Bidding for the above lot was fast and furious and the bidding easily beat the high estimate.

Lot 173
Sylvia Plath HUGHES (TED) The Hawk in the Rain, FIRST EDITION, 1957; Lupercal, first American edition, New York, Harper & Brothers, 1960; Meet My Folks!, FIRST EDITION, 1961, AUTHOR'S PRESENTATION COPIES INSCRIBED "To Winifred [Davies] and Garnett with my best wishes from Ted, October 1962" (the second and third with addition of "North Tawton"); Wodwo, FIRST EDITION, AUTHOR'S PRESENTATION COPY INSCRIBED "To Winifred [Davies] gratefully from Ted, April 21st 1967", AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED ("yours Ted H.") loosely inserted, 1967, unless otherwise stated Faber & Faber (4).
Sold for £2,125 / $3,014
Bidding for this lot also blew away the high estimate.

Lot 174
Lot 174 Sylvia Plath
The Bell Jar, FIRST EDITION, Heinemann, [1963].
Sold for £2,500 / $3,546

All links accessed 6 June 2016.

01 June 2016

The Letters of Sylvia Plath

As you know, I have been co-editing Sylvia Plath's letters with Karen V. Kukil of Smith College. It gives me great pleasure to let you know that recently we submitted the manuscript for The Letters of Sylvia Plath to Faber & Faber in London.

This has been an incredible journey. I have learned so much about Sylvia Plath (and Ted Hughes). About their lives and publications, as well as events in Massachusetts, England, and other places. About culture and history. And so much more.

I will give any updates I can on this blog, so for now please no questions regarding publication though I am sure you have many. Thank you all for your patience and support during this project.  My efforts were greatly enhanced by my best friends sugar and caffeine. The number of people that contributed to this project and their enthusiasm, support, and information has been extraordinary. Several people went above and beyond the call. You know who you are.

It was a privilege of the highest order to be entrusted by Frieda Hughes with the task of locating, reading, transcribing, and annotating all the known, extant letters written by Sylvia Plath. Every letter found, read, transcribed, and annotated has had you, the reader of Sylvia Plath, in mind. I cannot wait for you to read what this book. I hope this will be a building block for and a significant contribution to Plath scholarship.

Here are some pictures:

Editing the Index, mind the glare off my de Chirico-esque darning-egg head

Folders for each year

Photocopies of letters to people Not Named Aurelia Plath

Photocopies of letters to Aurelia Plath

The letters in open boxes

The boxes are closed

The letters all printed out,
next to a 1954 Royal HH typewriter, just like Plath's

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