27 November 2018

HarperCollins to Publish Sylvia Plath's Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom

A recent listing on HarperCollins website (and Amazon.com) confirms that they will publish Sylvia Plath's short story Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom, first written in December 1952 and revised in January 1953, under the Harper Perennial imprint.

HarperCollins is offering a paperback (ISBN: 978-0062940834) on sale on 15 January) and hardback (ISBN: 978-0062940858) on 5 February. Visit HarperCollins' Sylvia Plath page for books and deals.

In addition to paperback and hardback, it appears the HarperCollins edition of the book will be published in Kindle, too:

1) Kindle for $6.99 on 15 January;
2) Paperback for $9.99 on 15 January (Amazon); and
3) Hardback for $15.99 on 5 February (Amazon).

Faber paperback cover

Faber, in England, will publish a paperback edition for £3.50 on 3 January 2019 (ISBN: 978-0571351732). News of the story's publication was first made in The Guardian. It is the first new Plath fictional prose (that is not a work for children) to be published commercially since Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams was released in 1977. For those as mathematically challenged as I am that's 2019-1977=42 years. This is major.

All links accessed 25 November 2018.

24 November 2018

Sylvia Plath Archival Documents Hub

Sylvia Plath archives are rather dispersed and so it can make locating documents tricky. So, in an effort to aid in locating typescripts and manuscripts of Plath's creative works, I have collated a spreadsheet called the Sylvia Plath Archival Documents Hub. There are four worksheets: Poetry, Prose, Correspondence, and Photographs.

In the first two, Poetry and Prose, I am tracking only the manuscripts and typescripts.

The largest worksheet consists of correspondence. This was developed as part of my tracking spreadsheet of Plath's letters for The Letters of Sylvia Plath project but I've included letters she received that survive, as well as letters that may relate to her in some fashion. There is a clear division at 11 February 1963 to indicate to you this is after Plath's life. It is not by any means complete in the latter category (post-11 February 1963). Now that Letters project is over, I felt the information was worth sharing.

The fourth worksheet compiles all the known photographs of Plath held in archives and published in books. I have done what I think is my best to describe the photograph in hopes of helping you picture each respective one.

The spreadsheet is a Google document and will be View only access. The creative works are sorted alphabetically by title. I can do nothing about how slow it loads, so please be patient with this cloud-shared document.

If you notice errors or omissions, please do let me know. Over on my website, A celebration, this is, is a list of all the known, public-accessible Plath archives. In addition to this blog post and that Archival Materials page, the document will be linked on the Bibliography page, and of course it can be bookmarked.

I truly hope you are able to make use of it.

All links accessed 16 and 24 November 2018.

21 November 2018

Letters of Sylvia Plath, Volume 2: BBC Radio 4's Book of the Week

Novelist and biographer Andrew Wilson reports, in the 24-30 November 2018 Radio Times, that The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Volume 2: 1956-1963 has been selected, like it's predecessor Volume 1, as Radio 4's Book of the Week.
The letters, which many of you have now read, will be serialized on Radio 4 twice a day next week from Monday to Friday at 9:45 am and 12:30 pm. This is a thrill and honor, and is wonderful exposure both for Plath and for the book.

All links accessed: 20 November 2018.

19 November 2018

Sylvia Plath at the Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair

What a weekend in Boston! It was the annual Boston International Antiquarian Book Fiar and as usual I browsed through booksellers stock looking specifically for Sylvia Plath books. But this fair had particular targets in view... I was particularly keen to see some of the volumes for sale that were part of the big Sylvia Plath/Ted Hughes auction at Bonhams of the property of Frieda Hughes. As such, I spent some time at a few booths. Apologies in advance for all the super dodgy cell phone photographs.

But before I get to those, the primary reason for my attendance this year was to promote, sell, and sign (if wanted) some copies of both volumes of The Letters of Sylvia Plath. I was in Jett Whitehead's book for a good few hours promoting this book, talking to Jett and to many customers that stopped by. To my happiness some books sold and even some of the book dealers were buying copies. Sometimes it is hard to really consider just how many people are interested in these books. I just feel so genuinely happy to see copies walking away. I was really happy, too, to meet Rebecca Rego Barry, the editor of the excellent magazine Fine Books & Collections. It is always lovely to meet the real person behind the emails.

Jett is the current owner of a unique manuscript version of Sylvia Plath's poem "The Snowflake Star" and so to be near it for so many hours was a righteous privilege.

After my time in Jett's booth on Saturday I went to Peter Harrington's booth and also Jonker's, to see their wonderful items. In Peter Harrington's, I got to see the copies of RS Thomas that Hughes gave to Plath for her birthday in October 1961, her first in Devon. Some of books were copies that Hughes signed and inscribed to his sister, Olwyn, too. And these were also excellent and interesting to see as the inscriptions were in some ways more original and personal than those he signed to his wife.

According to the books' catalog/sale slip, the copy of Tares includes to scraps of Ted Hughes handwriting. It appears to be for some prose, possibly a draft of a review or a broadcast?

Jonker's was a particular delight because in addition to purchasing Plath's proof copy of The Bell Jar and displaying it at the Book Fair, they had some exceedingly recent acquisitions on show, too. So I was fairly taken aback whilst talking to Tom about these new books. The first is a signed and inscribed copy of The Colossus (Heinemann, 1960) to Hilda and Vicky Farrar. Dated 1 January 1961, it is an additional copy of the book that we now know about (and, yes, I've already amended the footnote about known signed copies of The Colossus on pages 530-1 in The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Volume 2, so look for this update in the paperback!). Plath's Colossus was reviewed on the BBC on 18 December 1960 when Plath and Hughes were in Yorkshire. It is possible the whole extended family heard the broadcast. And it could be that Hilda and Vicky requested a copy.  Plath and Hughes returned to London from Yorkshire on 31 December 1960, so it seems the first thing she did in London on New Year's Day 1961 was sign this book. Currently priced fairly at $40,000, I am quite grateful to whomever purchases it for me.

And then there is the following, which found me suddenly cotton-mouthed, weak-kneed, and with a fuzzy, stumbling brain. A copy of the anthology Light Blue, Dark Blue, inscribed to Hilda and Vicky and signed by BOTH SYLVIA PLATH AND TED HUGHES. At just $10,000, this is priced to sell and would be considered, by me, to be an absolute steal.

In addition to the above, from Vicky Farrar Watling, Jonkers has lovely copies of Ariel (1965), Three Women (1968), and some Ted Hughes books. Amazing.

Lucius Books of York was on hand and they have some rather extraordinary books including a Victoria Lucas edition of The Bell Jar which I saw in their case. They also have the copy of the Knopf edition of The Colossus that Plath signed to Winifred and Garnett Davies, too.

In general, it's an excellent time to be a reader and fan and collector of Sylvia Plath. The variety of books available, if one has the means (I do not, which is mean), makes for exciting times.

Sunday was the Big Day! I got to the fair early and was permitted the opportunity by Jonkers to go through the proof of The Bell Jar page by page comparing my paper from a few years ago on the "Textual Variations in The Bell Jar Publications". This was awesome because it proved my earlier paper crap. I joke, I got a lot of them right, but learned that I missed a few for which I am grateful. But what I was really surprised by was learning that some corrections from the proof to the first edition were the publishers, Heinemann, and not, evidently, by Plath. I am exceedingly grateful and like an idiot did not take pictures of the book. But it is, however, indelibly stained in my mind. At any rate, I need to revise that paper but do not plan to re-publish it until after Jonkers' copy sells. So, someone buy it!

But time was ticking on to my talk at 3 on "Sylvia Plath's Letters & Traces" which is the same title as previous talks but did contain very different content. I do not like to give the same talk twice and generally find revision keeps it fresh. It was a nice group of people who came to the talk, and there was a good batch of questions afterwards. I really cherish the opportunity to talk Plath and talk about the process of editing the Letters and other Plathian things. And even more, I covet meeting like-minded, passionate people such as L, E, and H; and even ran into an old co-worker from my previous life which was really cool. It was all quite special.

This was my favorite Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair yet and I did not even walk away with a book (or books) wrapped in brown paper bag with an orange SOLD sticker on it.

All links accessed 17 November 2018.

16 November 2018

Reviews of The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Volume 2

This blog post was modified, to add links, on 12 December 2018.--pks

The immediacy of Twitter has often inadvertently led to the absence of some information on Sylvia Plath appearing on this blog. For example, the reviews of the Letters of Sylvia Plath, Volume 2 have been tweeted and recorded on my bibliography of reviews of Plath's work on my website, but not here. So I thought I might do a little blog post to post the reviews and include links to however many that I can which appear online. Linking to reviews is presently a feature on my website that I do not take the time to do. Perhaps I should? Probably not, I still fear the breaking of links as it what so often happened earlier in this century.

Here are the reviews, including some pieces which are more coverage of the book, of Letters of Sylvia Plath, Volume 2 that have been published to date (or will be shortly--Rollyson and Schoerke). Some are behind paywalls and one just is not online. Some were printed in the newspaper on a date different to when it appeared online and often with a different title...which makes bibliography in the 21st-century really difficult. For some, like the Financial Times, I have not see the printed version so page numbers are missing. Lastly, some reviews, like Paul Alexander's, appeared in several subsequent newspapers but I have only listed the first appearance.

Adams, Alexander. "The poetry and the pain." Spiked. November 13, 2018.

Alexander, Paul, "Plath's Joy and Desolation." The Washington Post. November 4, 2018: E10.

Bate, Jonathan. "I now see the man I loved is dead." The Times. September 8, 2018: 13.

Bayley, Sally. "Plath's Passions." Literary Review. October 2018: 22-23.

Biggs, Joanna. "I'm an intelligence." London Review of Books. December 20, 2018: 9-15.

Carey, John. "Dispatches from a heart in agony." Sunday Times. September 9, 2018: 36.

Chiasson, Dan. "'The Girl That Things Happen To'." The New Yorker. November 5, 2018: 62-7.

Clark, Alex. "Who was the real Sylvia Plath?" Financial Times. October 5, 2018.

Cooke, Rachael. "Sylvia's Plath and other torments." The Observer. September 9, 2018: 44-5.

Ferri, Jessica. "Revealed: Sylvia Plath's Last Desperate Letters." The Daily Beast. November 9, 2018.

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

Lowry, Elizabeth. "Marriage as religion...Plath's correspondence captures life with Ted Hughes in all its joys and agonies." The Guardian. September 19, 2018: 16-17.

Lowry, Elizabet. "Books of the Year 2018." TLS. November 20, 2018.

Marriott, James. "Books of the Year 2018." The Times. November 23, 2018.

Meyers, Jeffrey. "Plath has the last wounding word." Standpoint. November 2018: 50-2.

Parker, James. "The Haunting Last Letters of Sylvia Plath." The Atlantic. January/February 2019.

Pierre, Summer. "Sylvia Plath's Last Plan." The New Yorker.

Raine, Craig. "'Ted is liar. Ted beats me up. Ted wishes me dead': Sylvia Plath descends into madness and misery." The Spectator. September 15, 2018: 31-2.

Renolds, Gillian. "Radio Review." The Sunday Times. December 2, 2018.

Roiphe, Katie, "Mad Girl's Love Song." The New York Times Book Review. November 10, 2018: 39.

Rollyson, Carl. "Sylvia out in the cold." The New Criterion. December 2018: 78-82.

Schoerke, Meg. "'I know the bottom, she says': Sylvia Plath's Correspondence 2." The Hudson Review. Autumn 2018: 629-39.

Seaman, Donna. "The Letters of Sylvia Plath." Booklist. October 1, 2018.

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.

Sullivan, Hannah. "Revealing Sylvia Plath." TLS. November 2, 2018: 3-4.

"The Letters of Sylvia Plath." [Starred Review] Kirkus Reviews. August 1, 2018.

"The Letters of Sylvia Plath." [Starred Review] Publishers Weekly. August 6, 2018.

Thomson, Ian. "The suffering poet who sighed for lost Edens." Catholic Herald. November 22, 2018.

Wagner, Erica. "In sorrow and in anger." New Statesman. September 19, 2017: 67.

Weatherby, Lonnie. "The Letters of Sylvia Plath." Library Journal. October 1, 2018: 59.

"A well-worn Plath." Private Eye. September 21-October 4, 2018: 34.

Wilson, Andrew. "The darkness that claimed Sylvia Plath." Evening Standard. September 20, 2018: 40.

Wilson, Andrew. "Chaos & Creativity." Radio Times. November 24-30, 2018: 146-47.

Wood, Gaby. "'Now, I shall grow out of his shadow...' — Sylvia Plath's last letter." The Telegraph. September 15, 2018: 8-9.

Yandava, Ramya. "The Last Letters of Sylvia Plath." Cornell Daily Sun. November 13, 2018.

All links accessed 15 and 16 November and 12 December 2018.

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 Kingdom!

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.
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