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.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

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.

Interviews