28 August 2018

Letters of Sylvia Plath Serialized

The Daily Mail of London bought the rights to serialize The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Volume II: 1956-1963 (Faber, published 6 September 2018).

On Saturday, 25 August 2018, they ran the first of the serials which was an edited down version of Frieda Hughes' long, considerate, and moving Foreword to the book: "Sylvia Plath's letters from the brink".

Excerpts from many letters were selected to be printed over three days. These paint their own small narrative but naturally are not completely representative of the content(s) of the full letters from which they were taken or the general tone of the book itself.

The first excerpt appeared online on Sunday the 26th and in print on 27 August 2018. The online headline: "'I want to kill this bloody girl to whom my misery is just sauce': Newly uncovered letters from SYLVIA PLATH reveal the moment her husband Ted Hughes’s mistress called her – bringing their marriage to a shattering end."

The second excerpt appeared online on Monday the 27th and in print on 28 August 2018. The online headline: "'I still love Ted — the knowledge I am ugly to him now just kills me': Newly discovered letters by Sylvia Plath reveal her heartbreak at the monstrous betrayal by Ted Hughes."

The third excerpt appeared online on Tuesday the 28th and in print on 29 August 2018. The online headline: "'Having been so very happy makes this harder than if I'd never known love at all': Sylvia Plath's joy and torment laid bare in the last letters she ever wrote."

HarperCollins will publish The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Volume 2: 1956-1963 on 30 October 2018.

All links accessed 25 August 2018.

24 August 2018

One New Article on Sylvia Plath's First Suicide Attempt

With August on us I continue the search for Sylvia Plath. Recently I found just one new article on Sylvia Plath's first suicide attempt which brings our total now to 264 articles that appeared. And of course we know the number is far greater and perhaps in time more will be found. They all say just about the same thing, but it never ceases to astonish me how far and wide the story spread.

The new article was in the Muscatine Journal and News Tribune out of Muscatine, Iowa. It ran on 26 August 1953, page 8, under the title "College Girl Missing—". The standard photograph ran with the article. The article image and transcription have been added to the bibliography on A celebration, this is.

All links accessed 16 August 2018.

20 August 2018

Book Annoucement: The Selected Writings of Assia Wevill

Dr. Julie Goodspeed-Chadwick and I are happy to announce that we have signed a contract with the Louisiana State University Press to co-edit The Selected Writings of Assia Wevill.

I am exceedingly thrilled to work on this project with Julie who brings her tireless, inquisitive, and passionate excitement to this project, as do I.

More details should be forthcoming as we work on and submit the manuscript by the end of 2019.

In the meantime, I recommend we all look forward to reading Julie's forthcoming book, Reclaiming Assia Wevill: Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, and the Literary Imagination, when it is published next year.

All links accessed: 19 August 2018.

13 August 2018

Sylvia Plath: Inside The Bell Jar

Fifty-five years after its first publication, Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar has received a serious, respectful, and authoritative consideration in the form of Sylvia Plath: Inside The Bell Jar which features the first video interview by Frieda Hughes on her mother. And my, was she and it insightful, humble, humorous: just spectacular. The on camera reminiscences by Plath's friends: Janet Salter Rosenberg, Elinor Friedman Klein, Betsy Powley Wallingford, Laurie Glaser, Neva Nelson Sachar, Phil McCurdy, Perry Norton, and Melvin Woody were superb. Some of these friends appeared on camera, as well, for the first time ever. They offer authentic, personable, and emotional memories of their friend Sylvia Plath and what life was like in the 1950s and early 1960s. These were connected with commentary by Heather Clark, Karen V. Kukil, and Tristine Skyler.

Inside The Bell Jar was sensitivity produced. It has left me in tears (particularly Phil McCurdy and Betsy Wallingford at the end) both times I have seen it in the last 24 hours. There is very little criticize; however, there is one thing worthy mentioning in case it can be corrected. The excerpts of the letters read in the program were inconsistently identified. The one to Ann Davidow-Goodman was fully dated; the one to Aurelia Schober Plath, incompletely dated; and the letter to Eddie Cohen not dated at all.

Letter to Ann Davidow-Goodman, 18 February 1952

Letter to Aurelia Schober Plath, 13 June 1953

Letter to Eddie Cohen, 28 December 1953
It was nice they showed Neva Sachar's telegram from Mademoiselle, but I wonder why they did not show Plath's?

Telegram from Marybeth Little, Mademoiselle to Neva Nelson, 
6 May 1953

Telegram from Marybeth Little, Mademoiselle to Sylvia Plath,
6 May 1953

Plath's pseudonym, Victoria Lucas, was not mentioned at all; neither was an image of the first edition shown. These could have been mentioned during the segment when the reviews of the novel were discussed. Quite minor quibbles in an otherwise fine production.

The Bell Jarby Victoria Lucas,
Heinemann, 1963

Highest accolades to Yeti Media for the work done for this BBC Two documentary. The director, Teresa Griffiths and her crew of executive producers (Siân Price and Angus McQueen) and producers (Tim Kendall and Clive Flowers), consultant (Heather Clark), and all others deserve our praise for their work. Declan Smith provided archival research and he worked with me and a number of others in obtaining video, photograph and other material in the program. It was an honor to participate behind the scenes and particularly neat to recognize the pieces that either I supplied directly or with which I provided assistance in obtaining and am sincerely thankful to be listed in the credits.

The plaque at Wellesley High School installed  in November 2000
for the 50th anniversary of the class of 1950.
All links accessed 13 August 2018.

07 August 2018

Letters of Sylvia Plath Event in London

With the impending publication on 4 September in England of The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Volume II: 1956-1963 I was hopeful that events would pop up similar to those that took place for Volume I last year. Happily, an event is in the works for Tuesday, 23 October 2018 at the British Library featuring the book's co-editors (that's me, Peter K. Steinberg, and Karen V. Kukil) along with Heather Clark and Mark Ford.

More details should be available shortly as we are still finalizing things. But I just wanted to do a little blog post to put the information out there.

A reminder that the volume will be published in the US by HarperCollins on 30 October.

The book can be purchased in hardback or Kindle via Amazon UK, Amazon US, direct from the respective publisher, and other fine booksellers.

All links accessed 25 July 2018.

01 August 2018

David's Sylvia Plath Table

Two days ago, a piece written by poet, editor, and writer David Trinidad was published on the Poetry Foundation website. Entitled "Sylvia's Table", it recounts his rather exciting and unique experience with the Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes auction held by Bonhams in March. The story of how he came to acquire it is wonderful and I hope you all read it.

The table in the auction room.
Photograph ©Gail Crowther
The timing worked out brilliantly in the end as he received it just a few days prior to my arrival in Chicago for a talk at Columbia College, where David teaches. After checking into my hotel, walking around for a while and going over the final pages of the proof for the second volume of The Letters of Sylvia Plath I met David outside his building on S. Michigan Avenue and we drove to his place so I could see the table first hand.

Table with Plath books.
Photograph ©Peter K. Steinberg
He had it set up with Plath's Collected Poems and Ariel on top, along with the January 1963 issue of London Magazine, which published Plath's poems "The Applicant" and "Stopped Dead". We both like to imagine, I'm sure, that Plath's own copy of London Magazine rested on this very table in her living room in Fitzroy Road.

The base of the table.
Photograph ©Peter K. Steinberg
Seeing the table in person was a wonderful experience and set the few days I was in Chicago going on a strong Plathian note like a fat smartwatch.

Photograph of table from the auction house ©Gail Crowther and used with her permission. All other photographs ©Peter K. Steinberg.

All links accessed: 1 August 2018
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