13 November 2018

Sylvia Plath and the Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair

This next weekend, 16-18 November, the Hynes Convention Center on Boylston Street, Boston, will host the 42nd annual Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair. This one will be a capital-D Delight. I say this because Jonkers Rare Books of Henley on Thames, England, will be showing off the most expensive Sylvia Plath proof book ever: her own proof copy of The Bell Jar at their booth, 525. As we learned recently in the publication of The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Volume 2, Plath received the proof shortly after she found out about Ted Hughes' affair with Assia Wevill. So her edits to the book date from after circa 10-11 July 1962. Incredible to think she was reviewing this at the same time as dealing with the marital issues as well as playing host to her mother, visiting Court Green, Devon, from Massachusetts.

Anyway, I am truly excited to see this book and hope to review it carefully. Several years back I did a study of the "Textual Variations in The Bell Jar Publications" and I would like to see how it compares; I am certain though I tried to be careful that I missed some.

In addition to that, I am sure other fine, rare books by Plath will be on hand. The Book Fair is amazing because it is like a petting zoo: you can touch just about anything you want.

On Saturday, 17 November, I will be in Jett W. Whitehead Rare Books' booth from 1-3 p.m. with copies of both volumes of Plath's letters for sale. I would be honored to sign them, and discuss any aspect of the books and the project. Jett will be at Booth 406.

On Sunday, 18 November, I will again be at Jett's book from about 2 or so for an hour. Then at 3, in the Exhibit Hall Theater, I will be giving a talk entitled "Sylvia Plath's Letters & Traces". I am really thrilled to be giving this talk. It should take around 30 minutes and then there will be time for discussion.

Admission to the Fair on Saturday and Sunday is FREE! So, there is almost no excuse not to come, fondle some books, and talk Plath.

All links accessed 1 November 2018.

06 November 2018

The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Volume 2: 1956-1963 Published Today

The full HarperCollins cover
Today, HarperCollins publishes The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Volume 2: 1956-1963 in the United States in both hardback book and Kindle edition. The book is available, as you might imagine, from Amazon as well as from the more traditional of bookstores (remember those?).

Please visit the Faber edition publication blog post for some details you may find interesting. Perhaps the best aspect of having the book published on very separated dates is the fact that two celebrations are called for! If you need me, please look inside of a pint glass.

In the days leading up to publication of the HarperCollins edition a number of reviews have appeared including:

Alexander, Paul, "Sylvia Plath narrates her own decline." The Washington Post. November 4, 2018.

Chiasson, Dan. "'The Girl That Things Happen To'." The New Yorker. November 5, 2018.

Haas, Lidija. "New Books." Harper's. October 2018: 83-6.

Sehgal, Parul. "A Marriage Falters and Masks Fall Away." The New York Times. October 24, 2018: C4.

Solly, Meilan. "Sylvia Plath’s Last Letters Paint Visceral Portrait of Her Marriage, Final Years." Smithsonian.com. October 31, 2018.

There are more to come in the New York Times Book Review, Hudson Review, The AtlanticHarvard Review, New Criterion, and others. A full bibliography of reviews is on my Reviews of Works by Sylvia Plath page on A celebration, this is.

Thank you all for your interest in these two volumes and for your patience and your support as we prepared them.

All links accessed 10 October and 1 November 2018.

01 November 2018

All Sylvia Plath Most of The Time

Upon my last flight home from England I wrote a long blog post so felt like it was an appropriate us of time, when not partaking of quantities of free alcohol to neutralize the turbulence of flying against the wind, to do so again. From 21-28 October I was in England, as you might know. The purpose of the visit was a talk at the British Library on the 23rd October with The Letters or Sylvia Plath co-editor Karen V. Kukil, as well as scholar and biographer Heather Clark and poet Mark Ford. I am a terrible judge of my own performance, but I hope the event was conducted and performed, by each of us, successfully. It was terrific to see familiar faces and friends, and, as well, to meet so many new people. I did not get to meet as many people as I had hoped.

I have recently learned that the event was recorded! And once it is made available online I will add a link here, as well as sent out a notice on Twitter.

An informal pub meet-up at the Lamb on Lamb's Conduit Street, near Rugby Street and the Church of St. George-the-Martyr where Plath and Hughes were married, before the British Library was a lot of fun. Thank you to Peter F, Lydia W, Emily Van Duyne, Elizabeth Lowry, Sarah Fletcher, Sam, Di Beddow, Heather Clark, Suzanne D, Diane D, and Gail Crowther for coming! I had meant to take photos but just did not get the chance.

The same day as the event, Faber published a blog post I wrote on their website about the Letters. It was a follow-up piece to the one they published after Volume I came out. It was really nice to be able to sort of conclude the project this way. I hope that you enjoy it.

As part of this visit, of course, I dragged my wife, I mean, we visited a number of Sylvia Plath related sites in London. So this blog post is primarily to show some of the photographs I took in London. After the event, my wife and I invaded Gail Crowther's home for a few nights and we enjoyed some rest, beautiful drives, clear air, hikes, terrifically narrow and windy roads, and scenery as well as fantastic food and conversation.

On the first day we conveniently found ourselves in Primrose Hill to photograph 3 Chalcot Square and 23 Fitzroy Road.

I took two 360 Theta photographs, too: 3 Chalcot Square | 3 Chalcot Square |  23 Fitzroy Road | Primrose Hill.

As luck would have it, we were lodging just down the road from the BBC where Plath regularly visited the Broadcasting House on Portland Place.

Plath never visited the Lakes District, and neither had I before this visit to England. The following is from a hike about halfway up Black Combe where visible were Blackpool, Wales, Yorkshire, the Isle of Man, and even Scotland. On a really clear day you can see Ireland, but we were not so lucky.

Looking out to see from Black Combe
On our return to London, we stayed in Mayfair and as such were wandering the streets and came across Fortnum and Mason on Piccadilly which was a favorite of Plath's and Hughes's for birthday presents. We also passed the Connaught Hotel, where Plath and Hughes stayed for a night in August 1962 after seeing The Mousetrap.  Then also passed by the nearby Claridge's Hotel, where Plath visited in 24 April 1956 to cover the Bulganin and Kruschev event for Varsity. (Her prose piece "B. & K. at the Claridge" was published in the Smith Alumnae Quarterly in Fall 1956.)

We wandered all over and found ourselves strolling through Trafalgar Square one last night and then I remembered Plath's journals... printed in Appendix 11 is a drawing of one of the fountains, she writes of having her back to the National Gallery and looking at the back of Nelson's Column and across the square to the "red & white checked flag flapping in blue sky over Canadian Pacific clock".

Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingom!

Backtracking a bit... On the day of the Plath event I visited Faber for the first time which was awesome. It was so exciting to visit the offices of the publishers of the Letters of Sylvia Plath and to meet some of the people before and at the event. It was really special, to put faces and voices with names. During that visit, coincidentally, I had an email from another member of Faber's staff asking to review the final text of a press release that had been in progress for weeks about the forthcoming publication of a short story by Sylvia Plath entitled Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom (Amazon). It was an exciting yet stressful few days polishing off the text, revising commentary, and then answering a slew of queries from Richard Lea of The Guardian for their article announcing the publication which was published in their print edition on Plath's birthday. The announcement seems to have been greeted on social media with a lot of enthusiasm which is terrific.

All links accessed 29-30 October 2018.

27 October 2018

Sylvia Plath Collections: Middlebury College

Back in June of 2008, Bloomsbury Auctions offered for sale an illustrated short story by Sylvia Plath entitled "Aunt Rennie and the Elves." Off and on since then I have made half-hearted attempts at finding it. Well, the other day I put a little more effort into it and found its hiding place. (In the end was not very hard to locate.)

The Special Collections department of Middlebury College in Vermont is now the proud owner of the typed short story which is signed at the end in pencil "By Sylvia."

The catalog entry at Middlebury summarizes the story thus: "The story follows a young boy who comes to live with Aunt Rennie and the elves after being sent into the forest by his cruel stepfather".

The story features two clipped illustrations from a product called Junket Rennet Powder by Vernon Grant. The advert, entered into US copyright on 29 January 1943, reads, "I go all over the world turning tears into happy smiles"... says Aunt Rennie. The full advert, right, shows a recipe for their rennet-custard desserts, was found on Pintrest from an eBay auction.

I am really happy to find where this early short story, from circa 1943, is held now. It is now listed on the Archival Materials page of A celebration, this is.

But wait, there's more. The Special Collections has a rich and healthy number of Sylvia Plath books, too. Included among them are a first Heinemann edition of The Colossus (1960)A Winter Ship (1960) , a Victoria Lucas edition of The Bell Jar (purchased in 1987 for $500!) as well as other first and limited editions.

My most sincere thanks to Nellie Pierce for her help.

This blog was posted from Gail Crowther's house, which is very special for me as it was my first ever visit here and it is Sylvia Plath's birthday.

All links accessed 14 September 2018.

22 October 2018

Sylvia Plath Event in London Tomorrow 10/23

Tomorrow at 19.00, the British Library will host the event "Triple-threat woman: The Letters of Sylvia Plath". I will be speaking with the co-editor Karen V. Kukil; and we are joined by Heather Clark and Mark Ford.

We have, each, fifteen minutes each to discuss various aspects of Plath's letters selected from those included in Volume II. It was difficult to find a few examples from the 575 letters in the book. I have titled my piece "The Reception of Sylvia Plath". Here's my title slide.

I am looking forward to the event; to see old friends and make new ones.

All links accessed 18 October 2018.

15 October 2018

Sylvia Plath: Film Buff

One cannot read and work with Sylvia Plath's letters, diaries, scrapbooks, or pocket calendars without noticing a trend. She loved movies, plays, and late in her life, the opera. She took in a film whenever and wherever she could in Wellesley, Boston, the Cape, Northampton, Cambridge (US and UK), London, and New York, to name several cities she cultivated in her quest for culture.

When I was working on the Letters of Sylvia Plath, I included the cinema or theater name for the films, plays, etc. that she attended. I did this for a couple of reasons, one of which was this kind of information interested me and so I felt compelled to record it in case there are other like minded Plath readers out there. I wrote a little about this recently on Gail Crowther's website in a piece called "The Archival Stretch".

After a while of repeatedly seeing reference to these events, I decided to compile a list of all the films, plays, and what not that Plath took in using all the resources that I had available to me. I kept a list of them (and other noteworthy notes) on a folder and the worked on transcribing that into a Word document.

This is not a fully comprehensive list because, for example, there are no pocket (or personal) calendars for 1957-1961 that we know of. Plath did see a film with Susan O'Neill-Roe and her then boyfriend, Corin Stanton-Hughes in January 1963. She wrote on 16 January 1963, "Sue & her sweet boyfriend Corin took me out to a movie the other night" (Letters Vol 2, 958). However, the film is not named. One can see what films were on at the time but one can at the moment only guess which it was.

After this long pre-amble, this blog post is to simply announce that the bibliography of films, plays, etc. that Plath saw is now available as a PDF on A celebration, this is, my website for Sylvia Plath. I had to wait to post this until both volumes of Plath's letters were published as the information in them was under strict embargo by the publisher.

Here are some of the listings for events Plath took in: Janie Gets Married; a concert on the Esplanade in Boston; The Cabinet of Dr Caligari; Galileo; and Through a Glass Darkly!

If I ever learn of new things to add I will do so; and of course if you spot any errors please do let me know.

All links accessed: 27 August 2018.

08 October 2018

Sylvia Plath Collections: Treasures at the Pierpont Morgan Library

October is American Archives Month in the US, so let us look at the first of a few Sylvia Plath Collections I have been sitting on for years!

As with much else at the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York City, their Sylvia Plath holdings are remarkable. As of 14 March 2017, the catalog returns more than 100 records when searching all collections. Certain collections are not applicable, such as Medieval Images Only and Music Manuscripts and Books. But, of those  records there are treasures lurking any reasonable way you sort it.

The items discussed in this post were worked with one day in January 2017 and the excessive delay in posting about it was due to the embargo on anything to the with Plath's letters. My reason for the trip was to work with the letters from Plath to the Merwins and to William and Edith Hughes.

If you want limited editions and rare books, the Morgan Library has something for you to look at. They have several copies of the rare printing of A Winter Ship, including some proofs, an original letter from Ted Hughes to the Tragara Press owner Alan Anderson which includes a typescript copy of "A Winter Ship", and two original letters by Sylvia Plath to Anderson. It was good to find these as Smith College has photocopies but lacked the envelope on which Plath added a postscript. The postscript is fascinating as it was intended for Plath's mother and concerned her childhood friend Betsy Powley Wallingford. Plath sent a letter the same day to her mother and simply wrote the PS on the wrong envelope...  Other limited editions include Above the Oxbow, Fiesta Melons, and The Surgeon at 2 a.m. & other poems to list just a few.

The Morgan also has numerous publications in which Plath's works first appeared including several of The Phillipian from the mid-1940s. Additionally some late publications like London Magazine and The New Statesman, and much, much, more, of course.

Some of these holdings are in the general special collections and were purchased through normal collecting and via auction. This blog has featured a couple of their early poetry manuscripts (4 July 2007, 17 August 2007, and 23 September 2009) that were purchased in the 1982 Sotheby's auction (Lot 96). A great many form part of the Carter Burden Collection of American Literature.

Additionally, I worked with several of the holdings in the Burden Collection and thought it would be good to finally blog about them, to bring them into greater awareness, perhaps?

The first item is a first edition of The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1962), signed and inscribed by Lessing to Plath and Ted Hughes. Lessing's inscription reads simply,
To Ted and Sylvia
with love from
Doris (Lessing)
14th June 1962
This was a Thursday. Plath's mother was due to arrive for a visit the following week. There is no indication in Plath's 1962 Royal Letts Diary Tablet to indicate if Lessing visited them that day, which according to Plath's notes was a very busy day for errands and things. So it is a mystery to me… I can only think that Lessing posted it, she visited them, or someone brought it to them. Lessing was friendly with the Macedo's and knew Assia Wevill, so perhaps introductions were made through those contacts? The book shows evidence of being read and is mostly free of any reader marginalia. There are faint pencil marking on pages 20, 44, and 46.

While that is undeniably awesome. The main reason for my visit were the Plath items concerning Dido and W. S. Merwin which include five letters from Plath to the Merwins (one also contributed to by Ted Hughes), what I believe is a letter fragment from Ted Hughes, and Merwin's copy of Plath's The Colossus

First up, the book. I've worked with several other copies of The Colossus that Plath signed and inscribed to people such as Marcia Brown, so learning of a new copy and working with it was quite special. Plath signed and inscribed her copy of her first book to the Merwin's as follows:
For Dido and Bill
with love—
from Sylvia
October 27, 1960
The image here is not Merwin's copy.

Merwin signed his last name beneath Plath's inscription on the front free endpaper and made pencil markings on poems/pages:
"Departure" p. 19
"The Colossus" p. 20
"Lorelei" p. 22
"Black Rook in Rainy Weather" p. 42
"The Disquieting Muses" p. 58
"Moonrise" p. 66
"Frog Autumn" p. 70
"The Beekeeper's Daughter" p. 75
"The Burnt-out Spa" p. 78
"Who" p. 81
"Flute Notes from a Reedy Pond" p. 84-85
"The Stones" p. 86

The letters to the Merwins were ones I had been looking for for some time; and according to the catalog record the Morgan received them from Burden's heirs in 2013. I am unsure if that means they were visible in the catalog at that time but I guess what matters is that they were found. Each letter below has a link to the catalog record which provides some summary information.

The first letter they have is misdated and at the time of writing my long email with evidence of the correct date has not yet encouraged them to revise the catalog record. They have it dated 28 February 1960. However, since there is a mention of a sleeping Frieda, that is an impossibility! The letter was actually written on 24 June 1960.

The second letter, 7 March 1961, is toward the end of Plath's hospitalization for her appendicitis.

The third letter, circa 30 July 1961, is after their visit to France and Yorkshire.

The fourth letter, 8 November 1962, discusses the breakdown of their friendship after the breakdown of Plath's marriage, among other topics.

There are two other letters. The first is a partial letter from Hughes to Merwin that they have as being part of the circa 30 July 1961 letter mentioned above. There are clearly two different letters. The earlier one is from just after their return to London after visiting Yorkshire with Plath and Plath's mother and is before they agreed to buy Court Green. The second letter is from after their move to Court Green as it mentions sub-letting their flat to the Wevill's and some other business such as Plath's editing of American Poetry Now. As with the first, misdated letter mentioned above, my recommendations to modified the catalog record have not seen any action yet.

The other letter is a carbon of a letter from Merwin to Plath dated 5 November 1962.It was to this letter that Plath responded in her 8 November letter mentioned above.

There is also a stray letter from Plath to her in-laws William and Edith Hughes dated 9 October 1961, a month or so after her move to Court Green.

So a wealth of Plath related archival materials in the form of poems, manuscripts, typescripts, books, periodicals, and more. It was brilliant to get to work with these papers, to visit the reading room again, and spend a day in New York City. If you are ever in or near New York City, please do drop by the Morgan: but write well in advance, admission to the reading room is by appointment/approval only.

All links accessed 14 March 2017

01 October 2018

Triple-Threat Woman: The Letters of Sylvia Plath

The British Library will host an event on 23 October 2018 entitled "Triple-Threat Woman: The Letters of Sylvia Plath". Tickets went on sale on 10 September and it has been exciting to see and hear of people making bookings. This blog post is simply to reiterate the information on the British Library events page.

Insights into the life and work of a great writer

Poet and novelist Sylvia Plath was a great letter writer, and a newly published collection (The Letters of Sylvia Plath Volume II: 1956–1963, Faber and Faber) gathers letters from the period when she wrote her best-known works Ariel and The Bell Jar. Join the editors Peter K Steinberg and Karen V Kukil, and leading Plath scholars Heather Clark and Mark Ford, to explore the insights that they provide into her life and work.

Alternating reflections on literature with quotidian episodes, the letters offer insights about her life as an American woman in England in the late 1950s and 60s, and her experience with writing, her marriage to Ted Hughes and motherhood.

'If I want to keep on being a triple-threat woman: writer, wife and teacher…I can't be a drudge'. From a letter to Marcia B Stern, 9 April 1957

Heather Clark is the author of two award-winning books on 20th-century poetry: The Ulster Renaissance: Poetry in Belfast 1962-1972 and The Grief of Influence: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes (2011) both published by Oxford University Press. Her biography of Sylvia Plath will be published by in 2019.

Mark Ford is a poet, critic and Head of the Department of English Language and Literature at University College London. He has written four collections of poetry: Landlocked (1992), Soft Sift (2001), Six Children (2011), and Enter, Fleeing (2018).

Karen V Kukil curates literary manuscripts at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, including the papers of Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf. She is the editor of the Journals of Sylvia Plath (2000) and Woolf in the Real World: Selected Papers from the Thirteenth International Conference on Virginia Woolf (2005) and co-editor of the Letters of Sylvia Plath (2 vols. 2017-2018). Kukil's exhibitions include 'No Other Appetite': Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, and the Blood Jet of Poetry (Grolier Club, 2005) and One Life: Sylvia Plath (National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C, 2018).

Archivist Peter K Steinberg is co-editor the Letters of Sylvia Plath (Faber) and co-author of These Ghostly Archives: The Unearthing of Sylvia Plath (2017). He authored the biography Sylvia Plath (2004), the introductions to The Spoken Word: Sylvia Plath (2010) and Sylvia Plath in Devon: A Year's Turning by Elizabeth Sigmund and Gail Crowther (2015), and articles on Plath have appeared in Fine Books & Collections, Notes & Queries, and Plath Profiles.

In association with Faber and Faber and supported by the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library

Name: Triple-Threat Woman: The Letters of Sylvia Plath
Where: Knowledge Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road

When: Tue 23 Oct 2018, 19:00 - 20:30
Price: Full Price: £12.00
Member: £12.00
Senior 60+: £10.00
Student: £8.00
Registered Unemployed: £8.00
Under 18: £8.00
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546

All links accessed 12 September 2018.

28 September 2018

Happy Anniversary: The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Volume I

Just a brief blog post today to say Happy One Year Anniversary to the Faber edition of The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Volume I: 1940-1956, published one year ago today.

All links accessed: 26 September 2018.

21 September 2018

Sylvia Plath and the Hurricane of 1938

One of the most indelible memories of Sylvia Plath's 30 years was the famous and fierce hurricane of 1938 which affected Winthrop, Massachusetts on the evening of Wednesday, 21 September 1938, eighty years ago today, when Plath was nearly six years old.

Plath wrote about the hurricane in a some of her works  but this post looks at just two. The first is her poem "The Disquieting Muses":

Typescript of Sylvia Plath's "The Disquieting Muses"

In this photo, showing the back of the 92 Johnson Avenue house in Winthrop, you can see the "study windows" Plath references in the poem. Facing the water are six, and on either side are three additional windows each. The math works out here: "twelve / Study windows..."

And another appearance of the hurricane was in her last prose piece, "Landscape of Childhood" (published as "Ocean 1212-W").

The title of Plath's prose piece comes from her grandparents phone number. Her grandparents house was 892 Shirley Street, on a thin strip of land between the Atlantic Ocean and Winthrop Bay.

892 Shirley Street, Winthrop.
Photograph ©Gail Crowther

In "Ocean 1212-W", Plath recalls:

Clips of the text from The Listener, 29 August 1963
In the above snippets, you can see Plath gets the year wrong by writing 1939; there were no hurricanes to affect Massachusetts that year. It should have been, of course, 1938.

 Below is the front page of the Boston Globe for 22 September 1938.

Winthrop was mentioned a couple of times, too.

Sylvia Plath, her brother Warren, and their friends David Freeman and Ruth (Freeman) Geissler were photographed in their neighborhood in the aftermath of the storm. These photos are supplied by Ruth and used with her kind permission.

The first one here I believe shows a felled tree across Somerset Avenue pretty near the intersection with Somerset Terrance where David and Ruth lived. I base this on the house in the background and compared to a current Google Street View image.

The second image features a dog! It has been harder to try to trace where this is from but you can clearly see a huge bit of earth behind Plath's right shoulder and it appears they are in someone's front or back yard.

All links accessed: 8 September 2018.

16 September 2018

Sylvia Plath Finding Aid at Smith College

Smith College has recently published online finding aids to two collections.

Sylvia Plath collection, ca.approximately 1930-1998
Collection number: MRBC.MS.00045

Abstract: The Sylvia Plath collection contains writings by and about the American poet, novelist, and Smith College graduate, including poems, journals, articles, and correspondence to and from Plath. The bulk of the collection is manuscript, printed, or published materials but also includes realia, and audio/visual materials.

The collection is held by the Mortimer Rare Collection in the Neilson Library. Currently the library is under construction so the collection is accessible in the Young Library, 4 Tyler Drive.

The second collection is the papers of Plath's psychiatrist, Ruth Barnhouse (a.k.a. Ruth Beuscher).

Ruth Tiffany Barnhouse papers, 1915-1999, 2008
Collection number: SSC.MS.00202

Abstract: Ruth Tiffany Barnhouse was a psychiatrist, theologian, and ordained Episcopal priest known for being poet Sylvia Plath's psychiatrist, and for her theological publications related to homosexuality, sex, and women in the Christian church. This collection contains materials reflecting both her personal and professional lives, most of it from about 1970 and later. The collection contains a small amount of materials related to Sylvia Plath, which have been put in separate series for ease of access and reference.

The Barnhouse papers are held by the Sophia Smith Collection which is also temporary located in the Tyler Library.

It's simply fantastic that this resource is now available online.

The Special Collections website should have all the information you need if planning to visit. These finding aids are now listed on the Archival Materials page of A celebration, this is.

All links accessed 12 September 2018.

12 September 2018

Sylvia Plath Collections: Letters to Ruth Beuscher

The court case Smith College brought against Harriet Rosenstein concerning the fourteen letters from Sylvia Plath to Dr. Ruth Beuscher was settled on 27 December 2017. The court case docket number is/was 1784CV00769-BLS; the case was dismissed with prejudice, the outcome of which was negotiated between the two sides. Anyone can visit the courthouse and review the records generated in the case. In the settlement, Rosenstein surrendered the letters she had been a custodian of since the early 1970s to Smith College. I have known about the fate of these letters since early January 2018 and that they would be allowed in the second volume of Plath's letters shortly thereafter.

I must, at this point, apologize to anyone and everyone who has asked me about them for I have lied my face off. But you have to understand, please, that I was expressly forbidden to discuss this matter.

However, as of 6 September 2018, when the second volume of The Letters of Sylvia Plath was published in England, these fourteen letters from Sylvia Plath to Dr. Ruth Beuscher will be open for research at Plath's alma mater, Smith College.

The Rosenstein archive, which I believe is still for sale though possibly not with the original bookseller and now without the letters, is a rich resource for the Plath scholar. It includes materials--including letters that Rosenstein denied us access to for inclusion in our volumes--that no one has ever had access to and we can only hope end up in a public archive. During the lawsuit, I was regularly going to the courthouse in Boston to review the documents that were being filed. To be honest I was hopeful that copies of the letters would be submitted as evidence. Perhaps that makes me a fool. I photographed a lot of the files in the docket and as the records are public documents, if anyone wants to see my photographs please let me know. The contents of the Rosenstein archive, though quite badly & sloppily cataloged by the original bookseller who tried to sell them, were briefly listed online. The lawsuit meant this inventory had to be removed from his website and the sale paused. Before this happened, though, I took a copy of it which will be the subject of a future blog post.

But this post is about the fourteen letters which were written between 18 February 1960 and 4 February 1963. Excerpts of them were serialized along with a hodgepodge of other letters on 27, 28, and 29 August 2018 in London's Daily Mail newspaper. The  letters are dated 18 February 1960, 2 April 1960, 7 November 1960, 4 January 1961, 27 March 1962, 11 July 1962, 20 July 1962, 30 July 1962, 4 September 1962, 22 September 1962, 29 September 1962, 9 October 1962, 21 October 1962, and 4 February 1963. They are initially rather social in nature but then naturally shift to concern over the upset in the marriage. Normally I would like to provide brief annotations on each letter but I think the wiser way to go about it in this instance is to encourage anyone interested to read the letters for themselves. And, if you can exhibit the patience of a saint, to read them as they come up in the chronological run of letters in the book. They form an integral part of Plath's epistolary life. Of course they can be made sense of on their own, but I found, having read them both ways, that reading them in the ordered narrative of the book provides much more of an understanding of the information they contain.

I am very happy that Frieda Hughes allowed the letters to be included and fully support her decision to do so. When you think about it, Plath's full journals, published in 2000, included her typed-up notes after therapy sessions, so there is a precedence for this kind of material to be made available to the public in print and at via the archive.

All links access 4 May 2018 and 29 August 2018.
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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. Forthcoming.
  • 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.