06 September 2018

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

Today, The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Volume II: 1956-1963 is published by Faber and Faber in England. The book, edited by myself and Karen V. Kukil, concludes a very long journey that was years and years in the making. Before I forget---a reminder: the HarperCollins edition is scheduled for publication on Tuesday, 30 October. If you cannot wait until then, the Faber edition ships internationally via Amazon.co.uk and Book Depository, to name two sellers.

The Full Faber Cover
Volume II picks up on 28 October 1956, the day after Plath's 24th birthday, with the following exclamation: "What a lovely birthday I had!" (3). She's living still at Whitstead at Newnham College, University of Cambridge, and shortly into the volume she is moving in with her husband Ted Hughes to 55 Eltisley Avenue. The epistolary journey covers the conclusion of Plath's Fulbright; a teaching year at Smith College in Northampton; a writing year in Boston; a cross country journey and residence at Yaddo; moving back to England, the birth of two children and a miscarriage; the publication of two books and a lot of other writings; and the breakdown of her marriage and death.

There are 575 letters in Volume II to 108 correspondents. A breakdown of some of the letters:
  • 18 letters to her parents-in-laws Edith and William Hughes (held by Frieda Hughes and previously unpublished and unknown to SP scholars); plus 8 other letters to Edith and William Hughes (also unpublished, but held in archives so possibly known);
  • 11 letters to Olwyn Hughes; 12 letters to Gerald Hughes;
  • 230 letters to Aurelia Schober Plath;
  • First publication of Plath's professional correspondence with publishers and editors, sometimes revealing authorial intention of her works: 
    • 18 letters to the BBC;
    • 19 letters to The New Yorker
    • 11 letters to the Critical Quarterly, primarily re: American Poetry Now, a pamphlet of poems edited by SP (1961) 
    • 5 letters to Heinemann 
    • And more! 
  • 14 letters to Dr. Ruth Beuscher, her psychiatrist from 1953 onwards; and 
  • 4 letters to Dido and W. S. Merwin.
There are five line drawings and many previously unpublished photographs. The images include some of the supporting documentation that was invaluable as I wrote the footnotes such as one of Plath's pocket calendars, a page of her submissions list, two pages from her Letts Diary Tablet for 1962.

The best part about having two different publishers in two different countries is there are twice as many reasons to celebrate. On 30 October 2018, when HarperCollins publishes their edition, featuring Plath's 1959 passport photo as the cover image, we can do this all over again!

All links accessed 31 July 2018.


Annika said...

Amazon has promised to deliver mine today - can't wait!

Peter K Steinberg said...

Annika! Oh! I hope this is true. Let me know one way or the other! ~pks

Unknown said...


A Piece of Plathery said...

Hurrah! Hoping it arrives soon.

Unknown said...

I'm being thrifty and patient and waiting for my US edition in October. It's difficult. I'm so excited. I read the letters alongside the Unabridged Journals and it's so satisfying. Thank you for all your hard work.

Peter K Steinberg said...

Thank you for your compliment, Elizabeth! It means a lot to me. As well, your patience is astounding! I'm very impatient for the book to come out here and hope you have your copy very soon on or shortly after publication! ~pks

Thank you, Plathery & Suzanne!

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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.