14 October 2019

Extra Sylvia Plath Books

In the process of unpacking all my boxes of files and books---mind you I am still not organized whatsoever---I found a box of duplicate books given to me, in some cases, by well-meaning family members, so I would like to offer them for reasonable sale! In addition, like an idiot, I accidentally ordered copies of the new the Letters of SP paperback editions and the new Plath book of essays...  So, rather than return them, my mistake may be to your benefit as I am accepting a loss. (The moral of the story is check your Amazon cart before you finalize the purchase!) "Proceeds" will go towards improving  this blog as well as my website for Sylvia Plath A celebration, this is.

Cambridge Companion to Sylvia Plath -- 2 copies -- $10 each
Cambridge Introduction to Sylvia Plath -- 2 copies -- $10 each
Representing Sylvia Plath -- 2 copies -- $30 each !!!!!1 copy left!!!!!!
Sylvia Plath in Context -- 2 copies -- $35 each  !!!!! No copies left. Soryy!!!!

Letters of Sylvia Plath, Vols I & II -- sold as a set -- 1 set available; 2 sets sold -- $40 each (I can sign/inscribe this if anyone wants. These are the Faber paperbacks with revised text and new letters.)

Because shipping international is so expensive I will only make this available to US residents.  Prices include shipping and packaging.

If you want a book, or books, it is first come, first served. You must email me at peterksteinberg@hotmail.com. Do not comment or Tweet your interest.  PayPal only. I will update quantities if and as books get claimed.

Thank you in advance!

09 October 2019

Published today: Reclaiming Assia Wevill by Julie Goodspeed-Chadwick

The LSU Press publishes today Reclaiming Assia Wevill: Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, and the Literary Imagination by Julie Goodspeed-Chadwick.

From the description:
Reclaiming Assia Wevill: Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, and the Literary Imagination reconsiders cultural representations of Assia Wevill (1927–1969), according her a more significant position than a femme fatale or scapegoat for marital discord and suicide in the lives and works of two major twentieth-century poets.

Julie Goodspeed-Chadwick’s innovative study combines feminist recovery work with discussions of the power and gendered dynamics that shape literary history. She focuses on how Wevill figures into poems by Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, showing that they often portrayed her in harsh, conflicted, even demeaning terms. Their representations of Wevill established condemnatory narratives that were perpetuated by subsequent critics and biographers and in works of popular culture. In Plath’s literary treatments, Goodspeed-Chadwick locates depictions of both desirable and undesirable femininity, conveyed in images of female bodies as beautiful but barren or as vehicles for dangerous, destructive acts. By contrast, Hughes’s portrayals illustrate the role Wevill occupied in his life as muse and abject object. His late work Capriccio constitutes a sustained meditation on trauma, in which Hughes confronts Wevill’s suicide and her killing of their daughter, Shura.

Goodspeed-Chadwick also analyzes Wevill’s self-representations by examining artifacts that she authored or on which she collaborated. Finally, she discusses portrayals of Wevill in recent works of literature, film, and television. In the end, Goodspeed-Chadwick shows that Wevill remains an object of both fascination and anger, as she was for Plath, and a figure of attraction and repulsion, as she was for Hughes.

Reclaiming Assia Wevill reconsiders its subject’s tragic life and lasting impact in regard to perceived gender roles and notions of femininity, power dynamics in heterosexual relationships, and the ways in which psychological traumas impact life, art, and literary imagination.
I have read the book. I love the book. I encourage you to buy the book. In addition to the publisher, Reclaiming Assia Wevill is available on Amazon.

All links accessed 5 October 2019.

03 October 2019

Letters of Sylvia Plath Event at NYPL

On Thursday, 17 October 2019, I will be giving a talk on my editorial work on The Letters of Sylvia Plath at the Grand Central Branch of the New York Public Library.

The library's address is: 135 East 46th Street New York, NY, 10017.

The talk will start at 6 PM. It is free, however, you must RSVP.

If you have time, please read an interview between me and Gregory Stall of the NYPL Grand Central location.

Author photograph by Kathrine Smart, taken inside 3 Chalcot Square, London. Sorry I cropped you out of the photograph, Nick.

All links accessed 7 and 14 August, and 10 September 2019.

01 October 2019

Bees: thinking of Sylvia Plath

Over the summer I was observing some bumblebees and decided to try a slow motion camera video on my mobile. These are my rather pathetic attempts, but I felt it was appropriate to share them at this time of year because who doesn't think of Sylvia Plath and bees in October?

The funny thing about the second one, "A bee", is that the bugger missed the flower!

All links accessed 4 August 2019.

25 September 2019

Corrections to The Letters of Sylvia Plath

Below is a list of the corrections that were made for the paperback editions of The Letters of Sylvia Plath. A few tweaks were made to the front matter and the Acknowledgements and they were made the same in both editions. But I have not listed them here. My thanks to those readers who sent in corrections.

Volume I:

p. 106, Footnote 2 – Revise to: Mary Ventura (1932-1973), high school classmate of SP.

p. 202, Footnote 1 – Revise to: According to Plath's housemate Olive Milne Glaser, Marie was the head cook at Haven House. See SP's 'Marie'; held by Lilly Library.

p. 279, line 21: add footnote at: dodie
Priscilla Dole Peters (1930- ), B.A. 1952, Government, Smith College, SP's housemate at Haven House.

p. 327, line 24: add footnote at Rosie
Rosemary Jaicks Flinn (1929- ) B.A. 1951, American Studies, Smith College, SP's housemate at Haven House.

p. 409, Footnote 2 – Revise to: Ezra Pound, The Pisan Cantos (New York: New Directions, 1948). SP's copy held by Lilly Library.

p. 493, Footnote 1 & Footnote 2
for: 'Riverside Reveries'
read: 'Riverside Reverie'

p. 499, Footnote 2
for: Attila A. Kassay
read: Attila A. Kassay (1928-1973), Hungarian; B.A. 1955, business administration, Northeastern University; graduated Harvard Business School, 1957; dated SP in 1952.

p. 505, Footnote 2: Revise dates:(1907-72).

p. 551, Footnote 1:
for: Shirley Baldwin Norton
read: Shirley Baldwin Waring

p. 599, Footnote 5
for: 'The Perfect Set-Up' (December 1952)
read: 'The Perfect Set-Up' (October 1952)

p. 599, Footnote 5
for: 'Twelfth Night' (October 1952)
read: 'Twelfth Night' (December 1952)

p. 599, Footnote 6
for: 'Riverside Reveries'
read: 'Riverside Reverie'

p. 642, footnote 3, line 6
for: Jose A de Lavelle
read: Jose A de Lavalle

On the following pages: p. 647, Footnote 2; p. 762, footnote 3; p. 763, footnote 1 and 2; p. 768, footnote 1; and p. 780, footnote 1 for: Finnegan's
read: Finnegans

ditto in Index under following entries:
p. 1336, Campbell, Joseph;
p. 1343, Finnegan's Wake: Meeting...; and
p. 1350, Joyce, James

p. 671, line 23
for: buckling
read: bucking

p. 732, Footnote 1
for: Richard Laurence Sassoon (1934– );
read: Richard Laurence Sassoon (1934–2017)

p. 748, line 12
for: you rhythmic
read: your rhythmic

p. 1280, Footnote 1
for: Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales
read: Geoffrey Chaucer, The Book of the Duchess

p. 1333, index – revise Baldwin, Shirley
for: Baldwin, Shirley, see Norton, Shirley
read: Baldwin, Shirley, see Waring, Shirley Baldwin

p. 1333, index – insert: Benion, Katherine, SP's correspondence with,

p. 1333, index – separate Bennett, Joan into:
Bennett, Joan (actress), 553
Bennett, Joan (scholar), 1047

p. 1334, index – insert:
Bible, 31, 374, 378, 492, 500, 879, 1030, 1275, 1283, 1309, 1315

p. 1335, index – insert: Bucknell University,

p. 1336, index – remove entry ‘Callender, Marie’

p. 1338, index – under Chaucer, Geoffrey:
for: The Canterbury Tales, 1279–80, (quotation from) 1280
read: The Book of the Duchess, 1279-80, (quotation from) 1280

p. 1343, index – insert: Flinn, Rosemary Jaicks (‘Rosie’), 327

p. 1346, index – insert: Grand Forks, North Dakota,

p. 1347, index – insert: Harry Marchard’s orchestra,

p. 1347, index – insert:
Helle, Anita Plath,
Helle, June Johnson, SP's correspondence with,

p. 1350, index – insert: Johnson, Martha Plath,

p. 1351, index
for: Koestker
read: Koestler

p. 1355, index – insert: Marie, 202

p. 1356, index – insert: Milton, Pennsylvania,

p. 1359, index – insert subheading under Norton, Charles Perry:
SP's correspondence with,

p. 1359, index, revise and MOVE to W's
for: Norton, Shirley Baldwin ('Shirl')
read: Waring, Shirley Baldwin ('Shirl'),

Add subentry: SP's correspondence with

p. 1361, index – insert: Peters, Priscilla Dole (‘Dodie’), 279

p. 1370, index – insert: under Plath, Sylvia, WORKS: 'Marie', 202n

p. 1371, index – under Plath, Sylvia, WORKS:
for: 'Riverside Reveries'
read: 'Riverside Reverie'

p. 1380, index – append new subentry under Smith College,
student life: Vocational Office, 307, 318, 893,
SP's correspondence with,

p. 1382, index – insert: Susquehanna University,

p. 1382, index – insert: Swaim, Rosamund Pugh, SP's correspondence with,

p. 1385, index – insert: Wagner-Martin, Linda,

p. 1386, index – insert subentry in Wellesley College:
Alumnae Hall, ;

p. 1388, index – insert: Woodthorpe, Peter, 1013, 1025

Volume II:

p. 25, line 21
for: bill & the £ 46 tailor's
read: bill & the £46 tailor's

p. 33, line 6
for: still at Newnham,& living
read: still at Newnham, & living

p. 41, Footnote 2
for: Harvey Street
read: Harvey Road

p. 46, line 23
for: pen, socks,& ourselves
read: pen, socks, & ourselves

p. 73, line 7
for: vampires, martyrdom--- and
read: vampires, martyrdom---and

p. 76, line
for: and published poet).
read: & published poet.)

p. 113, line 27
for: All the Aldriches, Dot & Joe Benottis,(Miss
read: All the Aldriches, Dot & Joe Benottis, (Miss

p. 139, line 24
for: sharinghis
read: sharing his

p. 142, Footnote 1 for: 17 May 1959
read: 17 May 1957

p. 158, line 27
for: readbooks
read: read books

p. 166, Footnote 3
for: Howard's End
read: Howards End

p. 239, Footnote 1
for: 'The Fugue and the Fig Tree'
read: 'The Fugue of the Fig Tree'

p. 248, line 20
for: Our park if full
read Our park is full

p. 407, line 24
for: them ( my favorite
read: them (my favorite

p. 424, Footnote 5 for: Critical Quarterly 5
read: Critical Quarterly 2

p. 451, line 17
for: Boston Lying-in - the mother
read: Boston Lying-in ‒ the mother [en dash]

p. 451, line 20
for: her child-is completely
read: her child ‒ is completely [en dash]

p. 480, Footnote 4
for: (1922- )
read: (1922-2016)

p. 530-1, Footnote 2
Revise end of note to read '…, Dublin); Lucas Myers, and Hilda Farrar and Vicky Watling.' [remove ‘(offered for sale in 2017)’ in order that this new copy to Hilda & Vicky might fit.]

p. 552, line 16
for: hermits,(if not saints
read: hermits, (if not saints

p. 559, line 11
for: criticizing poets I!like
read: criticizing poets I! like

p. 563, line 3
for: all the years I’ve know her
read: all the years I’ve known her

p. 570, line 18
for: the light on
read: the lights on

p. 718
for: TO Mary Louise Vincent Black
read: TO Mary Louise Vincent Back

p. 848, line 9
for: seethat
read: see that

p. 904, Footnote 2
for: Since writing to Olive Higgins Prouty on 2 November,
read: Since writing to ASP on 7 November,

p. 941, line 6
for: has yellow,& white
read: has yellow, & white


p. 983, index – 2nd column, line 9
for: Howard's End
read: Howards End

Naturally each error hurts but with nearly one million words between the two volumes we did not do too badly!

Please note: The spacing "corrections" that you see largely in Volume II remove the claim of exactness in the Preface that "The transcriptions of the letters are as faithful to the author’s originals as possible" (p. xx). So when considering these, please know that in the original letters, for example, "sharinghis" on page 139 and "seethat" on page 848, appear just like that, with no space between the words. I transcribed these as they appeared because Plath herself did not mark them for separation (often her letters included some corrections in pen but ignored other mistakes which is why we stated "Plath’s final revisions are preserved" in the Preface (p. xx).

Please also keep in mind that there are nine new letters between both volumes too. I cannot, however, post those due to copyright.

All links accessed 24 September 2019.

19 September 2019

Paperback editions of The Letters of Sylvia Plath Published Today

Today, Faber issues in the United Kingdom the first paperback edition of both volumes of The Letters of Sylvia Plath. They each carry forward the original cover photographs but do not judge these books by their covers. We had the opportunity to make corrections and updates to some of the text and to footnotes based both on reader inquires as well as our own review of the hardbacks. Naturally we apologize that transcription errors that were not caught. Additionally, we have added an Appendix to each book with new letters. Here is a breakdown of them.

Volume I: 7 Letters
To June Johnson Helle, circa 21 March 1943
To June Johnson Helle, 14 June 1950
To Katherine Benion, 3 March 1951
To Perry Norton, 11 October 1952
To Perry Norton, 5 December 1952
To Shirley Baldwin Waring and Perry Norton, 8 June 1953
To Rosamund Pugh Swaim, circa 11 January 1956

Volume II: 2 Letters
To Smith Vocational Office, circa 26 August 1957
To Smith Vocational Office, circa 8 September 1958

Particularly in Volume I's Appendix, we see a small chorus of new recipients of letters.

At my begging, Julie Goodspeed-Chadwick went to the Lilly Library to look through the Wagner-Martin mss there and it was she who located the Norton/Waring letters. Thanks to Julie for that, and to David Trinidad who found the letters to Daniel and Helga Huws in that collection previously. The Benion was sold at auction. I located the rest. There was an additional letter that I had hoped could be put into Volume II, from Plath (co-written by Ted Hughes) to Elizabeth and David Sigmund from June 1962, that was part of the Harriet Rosenstein collection. However, since not all of the letter was readable from a brief appearance of it online, as well because inquiry letters to Rosenstein were ignored, the decision was made to exclude it. So perhaps it is something to look forward to reading in full in the future. Hope!

I have be contemplating posting on the blog a full list of the corrections. Would that be of interest?

A polite reminder: The Letters of Sylvia Plath will not, at the present time, be issued in paperback in the US by HarperCollins. Therefore, if you are interested in the corrected texts and the new letters, you will need to acquire the Faber paperbacks.

All links accessed 15 August and 19 September 2019.

11 September 2019

Sylvia Plath Collections: Philip Hobsbaum papers

Gail Crowther and I recently teamed up for a These Ghostly Archives-inspired archival research trip and thought we would share it with you.

PKS: The University of Glasgow has some Sylvia Plath archival material. In October 2018, a blog post entitled Philip Hobsbaum (1932-2005): Ghosts in the archive – Sylvia Plath was published about the Philip Hobsbaum papers that are in the process of being catalogued.

GC: Philip Hobsbaum (1932 - 2005) was a teacher, poet, and critic, and a contemporary of Ted Hughes’ at Cambridge where they were both interested in the oral power of poetry. It was here that Hobsbaum worked as the editor of delta, a small poetry magazine published by the University of Cambridge throughout the 1950s and 60s. After moving to London in 1955, Hobsbaum was instrumental in setting up The Group which was a regular meeting for poets and writers to share ideas and work. In the 1950s and 60s much of literary London would attend The Group, including Ted Hughes, David Wevill, Assia Wevill, and Peter Redgrove. When PKS contacted me with the news that there were some Plath related papers in Hobsbaum’s archive in Glasgow, we felt it was worth exploring to see what was contained there.

PKS: The extent of the collection is three boxes, but it seems filled with plenty of Plath-related materials. The most interesting for us are the Plath typescripts of four poems: "Vanity Fair", "Black Rook in Rainy Weather", "The Snowman on the Moor", and "The Lady and the Earthenware Head". The poems were written between 28 October 1956 February 1957. The first poem has Plath's Whitstead address typed at the top right and the other three her Eltisley Avenue address. delta published Ted Hughes in 1955, and "Winter Words" by Plath in their Summer 1956 issue.

GC: Organising a trip to the University of Glasgow Library was fairly easy, mainly because the librarians and archivists were so friendly, helpful, and efficient. I arrived at the archive under a blackening Glasgow sky and took a lift to the twelfth floor. Entering the Reading Room I was immediately struck by the view from the floor to ceiling windows which looked out across the city and the campus. After a brief introductory talk about archive rules and data protection, I was settled at a desk and given three brown boxes to examine one at a time. Inside each box were several white thinner cardboard folders, each thematically organised, such as press cuttings, typescripts, letters etc. It became clear almost immediately that Hobsbaum had been impressed with Plath’s work during her lifetime and continued to take a serious interest after the publication of Ariel. He followed the subsequent biography controversies over the years, and Ted Hughes’ dealings with the press. He was also an enthusiastic teacher of Plath’s work and enjoyed discussing Plath with his students in Glasgow who he said every year ‘insisted’ he covered Plath in lectures and seminars. He had students who lived as far away as India coming to study Plath at Glasgow.

PKS: Hobsbaum appears to have been genuinely fond of Plath's work. While they are copies, the precious typescripts have been added to the Sylvia Plath Archival Documents Hub and it is worth noting that it was the first instance of a typescript of "Vanity Fair".* It is always interesting to me to see just what Plath's friends and acquaintances collected in the years and decades after her death. What we do not know is whether Plath posted these poems to Hobsbaum for considering in delta or if she perhaps met with Hobsbaum in Cambridge or in London. But given the addresses and dates of composition we can deduce that they were given to Hobsbaum in late winter or early Spring of 1957. Plath was in London just a couple of times that spring, most memorable for me in April when they were in the capital to accomplish business related to Ted Hughes traveling to the US in June (medical exams and Visa).

GC: One of the most interesting documents in the archive was a letter Hobsbaum wrote to Trevor Thomas thanking him for a copy of his memoir Last Encounters. Although this correspondence is one-sided, Hobsbaum shares his memories of meeting Plath and his love of teaching her work. He recalls knowing Ted Hughes at Cambridge who he describes as very rough-looking with a bad case of dandruff and greasy hair (though a fine poet ‘at that time’). He also remembers meeting Assia Wevill for the first time who he describes as the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. He ends his letter by describing Plath as a ‘legend’.

PKS: To read an acquaintance of Plath's refer to her with genuinely affection is a good thing; especially considering that some from the Cambridge period did not take to Plath (the person) very well. The Plath-related papers in Hobsbaum collection is small; however, the collection on the whole is massive and is undoubtedly is a valuable resource.

All links accessed 20 June and 4 September 2019.
*I suspect a copy of the typescript is held by Smith College in the working papers for Plath's Collected Poems.

P.S. Interested in These Ghostly Archives: The Unearthing of Sylvia Plath? Please buy a copy!

05 September 2019

Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar (Faber Liberty Edition) & Ariel (Faber 90th Anniversary Edition)

Faber & Faber in London is set to publish today a "Liberty edition" of Sylvia Plath's novel The Bell Jar. Priced at £14.99.

I was recently told that the cover incorporates period fabric chosen from the Liberty Fabric archives. Fantastic!

Who can forget Plath's own reaction to Liberty's from her recently published Letters? For example she wrote to her mother a few weeks after settling in at 3 Chalcot Square: "Eye-shopped at Liberty’s the other day: oh, the teak furniture & copper, glass & steelware! So pacifying to see & feel beautiful things" (430).

Plath also purchased greeting cards from Liberty's as well as a scarf that she gave to her mother (now held by the Lilly Library). For an image of the scarf I refer you to David Trinidad's "Collecting Sylvia Plath" published on the Poetry Foundation website).

When I first saw the new cover for The Bell Jar I thought immediately of the 1971 limited edition Crystal Gazer and Other Poems, which was published by the Rainbow Press. Copies numbered 101-400 of the run were bound in quarter buckram with hand-made Japanese paper sides and issued with a slipcase.

The title is available from Faber & Faber directly, and also, as you might expect, from Amazon.co.uk.

Also issued today is Ariel: the Faber 90th Anniversary Edition. Also available from Faber's website and the other usual sellers.

All links accessed 30 May 2019.

01 September 2019

Sylvia Plath Books: Autumn 2019

This fall a number of books by and about Sylvia Plath will be published.

First up, the books by Plath.

On 5 September, a gorgeous hardback "Liberty" edition of The Bell Jar will be issued. (Amazon.co.uk).

The same day, Faber will issue a 90th anniversary edition of Ariel (Amazon.co.uk). (This year, 2019, is the 90th anniversary of the firm.)

Two weeks later, on the 19th, both volumes of  The Letters of Sylvia Plath will be issued for the first time in paperback.

Blessedly the same covers as for the hardback.

Now. Your attention please.

HarperCollins is not releasing paperback editions of The Letters of Sylvia Plath. So if you want the new content, which will be the subject of a separate blog post on or about the 19th, then you will have to get the Faber edition. Book Depository ships internationally for free.

If you are interested in books about Sylvia Plath this fall is for you as there are two important books coming out.

Cambridge University Press published a collection of essays edited by Tracy Brain entitled Sylvia Plath in Context on 22 August 2019 (Amazon.co.uk).

The collection contains thirty-four essays in a range of "Contexts". I am happy to say that I have two pieces in it. The first, in "Literary Contexts" was developed from a talk I gave at the 2012 Plath conference at Indiana University and is called "'Sincerely yours': Plath and The New Yorker". The second is in "Biographical Contexts" and is called "Plath's scrapbooks" and was an essay I was desperate to write for more than a decade since I first handled her scrapbooks housed now at the Lilly Library. It was such an honor to finally get to do so and for it to be included in this remarkable volume. It was also a genuine privilege to have had this blog serve as a method to solicit chapter ideas a few years ago. And I appreciate Tracy's gracious words on that in the volume.

Next, on 9 October 2019, Louisiana State University Press will publish Reclaiming Assia Wevill: Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, and the Literary Imagination by Julie Goodspeed-Chadwick (Amazon.com).

Julie's book is the first critical work on Assia Wevill and is groundbreaking. The book "reconsiders cultural representations of Assia Wevill (1927–1969), according her a more significant position than a femme fatale or scapegoat for marital discord and suicide in the lives and works of two major twentieth-century poets."

The last few years have been great for Sylvia Plath books and 2019 continues this trend.

All links accessed 30 July and 31 August 2019. Revised 2 September 2019.

24 August 2019

An Additional Article Relating to Sylvia Plath from August 1953

Yes is the answer. I am still searching for Sylvia Plath.

This year, so far, has felt slow for finding new articles on Plath's August 1953 disappearance and suicide attempt but there is one new one to report. It is "Missing Girl Found Asleep in Home" from page 1 of the Buffalo Evening News on 26 August 1953. It joins another Buffalonian article previously found from the 27th in the Buffalo Courier Express.

The article is on the First Suicide Attempt page of A celebration, this is, as well as a transcription of the text which reads much the same as all the others on this aspect of Plath's disappearance.

All links accessed 4 August 2019.

23 August 2019

Sylvia Plath's Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom

Sylvia Plath's "Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom" might be the little engine that could of short stories. Published in January 2019 by Faber and HarperCollins, the story has already been translated and issued in French and Portuguese. A Spanish edition is forthcoming.

La Table Ronde published Mary Ventura & le neuvième royaume in May.

Biblioteca Azul published Mary Ventura e o nono reino in August.

Casa de Libro will publish Mary Ventura y el noveno reino on 17 October 2019.

All links accessed 22 August 2019.

22 August 2019

Sylvia Plath In Context: Essays edited by Tracy Brain

Published today by the Cambridge University Press is Sylvia Plath In Context, edited by Tracy Brain (Amazon.co.uk).

From the book blurb on CUP's website:

Sylvia Plath in Context brings together an exciting combination of established and emerging thinkers from a range of disciplines. The book reveals Plath's responses to the writers she reads, her interventions in the literary techniques and forms she encounters, and the wide range of cultural, personal, artistic, political, historical and geographical influences that shaped her work. Many of these essays confront the specific challenges for reading Sylvia Plath today. Others evaluate her legacy to the writers who followed her. Reaching well beyond any simple equation in which biographical cause results in literary effect, all of them argue for a body of work that emerges from Plath's deep involvement in the world she inhabits. Situating Plath's writing within a wide frame of references that reach beyond any single notion of self, this book will be a vital resource for students, scholars, instructors and researchers of Sylvia Plath.

Below is a list of the essays in volume.

Part I. Literary Contexts:
1. Plath and the American poetry scene by Jonathan Ellis
2. The dominant trends in British poetry of the 1950s and early 1960s by Eleanor Spencer
3. Plath and the classics by Holly Ranger
4. Plath and the radio drama by Andrew Walker
5. 'Sincerely yours': Plath and The New Yorker by Peter K. Steinberg

Part II. Literary Technique and Influence:
6. Plath in the context of Stevie Smith by Noreen Masud
7. Plath's whimsy by Will May
8. Sylvia Plath and you by Tracy Brain
9. Plath and the lyric by Lucy Tunstall
10. Plath and the pastoral by Iain Twiddy

Part III. Cultural Contexts:
11. Plath and food by Gerard Woodward
12. Plath and fashion by Rebecca C. Tuite
13. Experimental bravery: Plath's poetry and auteur cinema by Lynda Bundtzen
14. Plath and television by Nicola Presley
15. Plath and art by Jane Hedley

Part IV. Sexual and Gender Contexts:
16. 'Minor scandal': queer writing contexts for The Bell Jar by Beatrice Hitchman
17. 'Woman-haters were like gods': The Bell Jar and violence against women in 1950s America by Kate Harding
18. Sylvia Plath and the culture of hygiene by Laura Perry

Part V. Political and Religious Contexts:
19. The Bell Jar, the Rosenbergs and the problem of the enemy within by Robin Peel
20. Religious contexts for Sylvia Plath's work by Gail Crowther
21. Plath and nature by Richard Kerridge
22. Plath and war by Cornelia Pearsall

Part VI. Biographical Contexts:
23. Sylvia Plath's journals by Sally Bayley
24. Plath's teaching and the shaping of her work by Amanda Golden
25. Electroshock therapy and Plath's convulsive poetics by Anita Helle
26. Plath's scrapbooks by Peter K. Steinberg
27. Beyond letters home: Plath's unabridged correspondence by Karen V. Kukil

Part VII. Plath and Place:
28. 'A certain minor light': Sylvia Plath in Brontë country by Sarah Corbett
29. Plath in London by Elaine Feinstein
30. Plath in Devon: growing words out of isolation by Maeve O'Brien

Part VIII. The Creative Afterlife:
31. An alternative afterlife: Plath's experimental poetics by Gareth Farmer
32. British and American editions of Ariel and The Bell Jar by Elena Rebollo-Cortés
33. After Plath: the legacy of influence by Fiona Sampson
34. P(l)athography: Sylvia Plath and her biographers by Heather Clark

The book is expensive, coming in at £85.00. The ISBN is 978-1108470131. It will be available in the US on 30 September 2019 for $110 (Amazon.com).

All links accessed 14 and 22 August 2019.

15 August 2019

Update on The Selected Writings of Assia Wevill

Recently I received a comment on The Selected Writings of Assia Wevill book announcement post  asking for an update on the book that I am fortunate enough to be co-editing with Julie Goodspeed-Chadwick, author of the forthcoming Reclaiming Assia Wevill: Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, and the Literary Imagination (LSU Press). Julie and I are happy to provide this, however briefly.

We have compiled the first draft of the manuscript which consists of four parts: Letters, Journals, Poems, and Miscellaneous texts. All sections have been annotated with contextual footnotes. In addition, we are presently working on our introduction and the selection of images and illustrations. In the coming months we'll continue read and proof the text, try to add more information to the footnotes if we can, and try to locate more documents to include. This autumn I am going to work on building an index, because I enjoy punishing myself in nerdtastic ways.

Happily, we are on schedule to have the manuscript to our publisher, the Louisiana State University Press, by our deadline of 31 December 2019.

All links accessed 12 August 2019.

P.S. Because I have not so far—and cannot fathom posting something here without typing it—Sylvia Plath.

10 August 2019

Sylvia Plath's fireflies

Sylvia Plath's first published poem appeared on 10 August 1941, seventy-eight years ago today. It appeared on the "Good Sport" page of the Boston Herald, page 8.

The printed poem is brief: just four lines. The subject of the poem is what the young poet heard and saw in summer evenings: crickets and fireflies which "Twinkle as they pass." I am presenting KICKING myself because this should have been in Volume 1 of The Letters of Sylvia Plath. I am seriously the most rubbish editor ever. See this blog post for more information on the poem and the letter.

Earlier this summer, or was it spring?, I was visiting some family and noticed a number of fireflies, aka lightning bugs. Of course, I thought of Plath immediately and so I immediately captured a short video of them as it had been a number of years since I had seen such a preponderance of the lovely bugs. When I was growing up we used to run around in the evening collecting them in mason jars. (We made air holes so they did not die.) We would keep them for a night and let them illuminate our bedroom and then set the free the next day.

I do recommend watching several times, in dark room, to see the fireflies flick and flash.

 All links accessed 4 August 2019.

01 August 2019

Faber reissues Sylvia Plath The Bell Jar

On 26 July 2019, Faber and Faber tweeted out a lovely photograph featuring a person holding a copy of The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath seated on some grass.

And then today, they tweeted out that the novel is officially reissued.

However, I have not seen the book listed either on their website or on Amazon.co.uk, but it is a beautiful looking cover which pays homage to their original 1966 edition.

A gallery of historical Bell Jar covers can be seen over on my website.

All links accessed 30 July 2019 and 1 August 2019.

14 July 2019

Guest Blog Post: Cornucopia, Wisconsin

The following is a guest blog post by Amy C. Rea about her recent visit to Cornucopia, Wisconsin. All text and photographs are copyright to her. Thank you, Amy! ~pks

60 years ago, Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes undertook a road trip circling America with visits to Canada and Mexico tucked into the northern and southern ends of the expedition. (For a wonderfully detailed and researched overview of this trip, see David Trinidad's On the Road with Sylvia and Ted: Plath and Hughes’s 1959 Trip Across America.)

They began their trek on July 7, and a week later, found themselves in a small north-central Wisconsin town called Cornucopia. There they found a farm on the shores of Lake Superior owned by Andrew and Helen Nozel, who graciously agreed to let them camp on their property for two nights.

Recently my husband and I took a road trip from our home in Minnesota to Bayfield, a charming small town on Wisconsin's Lake Superior shore (called the South Shore, as opposed to Minnesota's North Shore), with access to the Apostle Islands and Madeline Island. While plotting the driving route, I noticed that Cornucopia was right on the way. Obviously we would have to stop.

Ehlers Store, Cornucopia
Peter K. Steinberg provided me the name of the farmers, and some very helpful people at the Bayfield County Land Records Office helped me narrow down my search, getting to a legal property description that seemed to have two potential lots that were likely to be where Plath and Hughes camped: a stretch of road cornered by Spirit Point and Birch Hill roads and Lake Superior itself.

Cornucopia had to wait until the day we returned, as the first day we ran into torrential rains. But driving through the rain made me wonder if this was the same highway they took (in reverse). I knew from Trinidad that they left Brimley, MI the morning of July 14 and arrived in Cornucopia that night. A Google map search has the most direct route cutting inland before getting to Bayfield, but Trinidad’s article reports that they drove all day without leaving the lake. That seems to imply they would have gone through Bayfield, which is a charming, New England seaside-y village right on the lake. That means they traveled on what is now WI-13, the road we took. It's hard to imagine Plath not enjoying the view; Lake Superior is the largest of the Great Lakes, and at points, you can barely see land across it, leading many locals to refer to it as the "northern ocean."

It's a beautiful drive, densely forested with little pockets of farm land carved out of the trees here and there. You can drive for miles and not see another car or house; today, rural fire address signs are at the foot of every driveway, but those mostly came into being in the 1970s-80s, so they wouldn't have been there when Plath and Hughes came through. Traveling in early July, the trees were fully leafed out and densely green: aspen, sugar maple, birch, oak, hickory, and basswood, combined with a wide variety of pine trees (jack, red, and white pine; black and white spruce; balsam fir; and tamarack). The ditches on either side of the highway were full of white, purple, and yellow wildflowers. If that's what Plath saw too, her acute appreciation of the visual must have made the drive beautiful.

Spirit Road from Highway 13
The spot where they likely camped isn't hard to find. Spirit Point Road turns directly off Highway 13, and only a mile down Spirit Point is Birch Hill Road. Spirit Point is currently paved for the first half mile, then becomes a dirt road, well packed down. Birch Hill is a dirt road that tapers down to the lake and today ends in two rutted tire track lanes. Trinidad notes that Plath and Hughes camped on a "hayfield hilltop." Current survey photos don't show any open farmland here; it appears to have been allowed to revert back to forest. But the land does slope sharply up from the lake.

Birch Hill Road
Birch Hill Road, Lake Superior behind Amy
Birch Hill Road with view of Lake Superior
Clearly I was on private property and didn't wish to be the awful tourist who can't respect boundaries. The Nozel family no longer owns the property, so the likelihood of finding someone who remembered their visit seemed beyond small. Driving toward the end of Birch Hill Road, which dead-ends at the lake, I could see some older buildings, including a decrepit shed, and felt that was as far as I could go without being intrusive. Still, I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel cautiously excited at this proximity to a spot Plath was at and which, according to Hughes, was his favorite stop of the trip.
Former Nozel property off Birch Hill Road

Of course, such a trip ends up asking more questions than it answers. Bayfield is located on Lake Superior's Chequamegon Bay. The Bay contains the Apostle Islands, which are now mostly part of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, overseen by the National Park Service. But in 1959, they were still mostly private, some still having residents and remnants of logging and sandstone mining companies. Surely Plath would have been fascinated with the stories of the sea caves, especially the large ones found around Devils Island.

However, Madeline Island was already a popular day-trip tourist destination with regular summer ferry service. Did Plath and Hughes know that? Did they consider taking a jaunt across the big lake to the beautiful island, full of intriguing history, flora and fauna?

Or when leaving Bayfield and driving through Red Cliff, did they know that they were on the reservation of the Red Cliff Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa, or that Chief Buffalo was instrumental in allowing the tribe to stay there rather than be forced west, as the government of the early 1800s wanted them to do? Given their interest in history, mythology, and other cultures, it seems like this would have been a good stopping point for them.

But we don't know how much they knew about the area they were traveling through. Trinidad doesn't detail their departure from Wisconsin, which occurred on the 16th, other than to say they drove through Minnesota to camp in North Dakota. Our route took us through the twin ports of Superior, WI and Duluth, MN, courtesy of a bridge that opened in 1961 and allowed us to quickly cross the lake between the two towns. In 1959, they could have crossed via the now-historic Aerial Lift Bridge.

As I left Wisconsin, I had to wonder what it would take to get the Wisconsin Historical Society to consider putting up a plaque in Cornucopia. How many other times has Wisconsin had a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and a Poet Laureate camping in the state?

All links accessed 10-11 July 2019.

10 July 2019

Sylvia Plath Email Query

In June I received an email asking about something that was said back in 2017 during the Q & A of a talk that I gave with Heather Clark and Karen V. Kukil at the Grolier Club. If I knew it, I had forgotten, that a video was available online of the Symposium which was done in conjunction with the exhibit from the collections of Judith Raymo.

At the start of the Q & A, Richard Larschan, who was a great friend of Aurelia Plath's in Wellesley, asked if we had gotten access to sealed letters at the Lilly Library. He had asked this of me a few times but I never really did much investigating about it.

But later, as we were in the throes of preparing Volume II of The Letters of Sylvia Plath, I did write to the Lilly to ask if they have or had any sealed materials. I was informed that they do not presently have any sealed Plath materials. However, I learned after the good archivists did some digging, that when Aurelia Plath sold the collection to the Library in 1977 that there were in fact two sealed letters. But, fortunately for many Plath scholars, they had been unsealed a long, long time ago and thus were available for researcher use. And they were included in the volume.

The two lettersdated 23 September 1962 and 22 November 1962were from Plath to her mother. Both have footnotes that acknowledge their shared history. See pages 832 and 918 of Volume II. Both letters are famous for the fact that they have heavy black pen redactions made by Aurelia Plath. I transcribed as much as I could but a few words and lines were impossible. I selected these letters to include in the plate section of Volume II so that readers could see what I was up against in transcribing and editing them.

It was fun to re-live the event at the Grolier Club. Ah, times were so much simpler then... While I answered the query of the correspondent directly to her, she had asked originally if I would do a blog post about it. So, this is that!

All links accessed 15 June 2019.

01 July 2019

Sylvia Plath: The Living Poet

One of the most remarkable aspects that the British Library Spoken Word: Sylvia Plath CD—published in 2010 and lamentably out of print—captures and presents can be found in tracks 8-16, or, those from "The Living Poet" broadcast on the B.B.C.'s Third Programme. "The Living Poet" aired just about monthly and featured other Americans in 1961: Richard Wilbur, Theodore Roethke, Robert Lowell, Randall Jarrell, and Stanley Kunitz. Plath was the first female that year and shared the reading of her work with the American actor Marvin Kane. He read five poems and she read four.

The introduction to that broadcast, written and spoken by Plath, is very clearly by the author of the poems of The Colossus. What I mean by this is it is eloquent, yet kind of floral. The poems, as they were recorded, are:

"The Disquieting Muses" (read by SP);
"Sleep in the Mojave Desert" (read by Kane);
"Suicide Off Egg Rock" (read by Kane);
"Spinster" (read by SP);
"Parliament Hill Fields" (read by SP);
"You’re" (read by Kane);
"Magi" (read by Kane);
"Medallion" (read by Kane); and
"The Stones" (read by SP).

Though the poems are not read strictly in chronological order from their dates of composition, there is a progression evident.

Much has been written on the voices of Sylvia Plath, and how there are really distinctive phases in her poetic development. That is one definition of voice; the other is her literal voice which was captured by recording equipment. Al Alvarez has perhaps most famously described the Sylvia Plath he knew between 1960 and 1962/3 as being several women and he would have been exposed to both definitions of Plath's voice. When he first met her she was in the shadow of her husbands fame. He writes, "the poet taking a back seat to the young mother and housewife" (Savage God, 22). Then the tables turned and she was very much her own woman. In June 1962, Alvarez said "Sylvia had changed. No longer quiet and withheld, a housewifely appendage to a powerful husband, she seemed made solid and complete, her own woman again" (Savage God, 28). By Christmas Eve 1962, the last time they met, she was "a priestess emptied out by the rites of her cult" (Where Did It All Go Right?, 232). In many respects you can hear this transformation throughout the broadcast of "The Living Poet".

Plath was in France with Ted Hughes at the Merwin's farm when the program aired on Saturday 8 July 1961. In her 2 July 1961 postcard to her mother she included a postscript about listening to the performance. I would love to know if Mrs. Plath listened to it and what she thought of it.

The British Library holds the full recording of "The Living Poet". Of the poems read by Kane, however, I wish most of all that Plath, not he, had read "Suicide Off Egg Rock," particularly as I would like nothing more than to hear Plath speak:
"Sun struck the water like a damnation.
No pit of shadow to crawl into,
And his blood beating the old tattoo
I am, I am, I am..."
If you are ever able to hear the full recording I strongly suggest that you do. Recordings preserve the archive of the voice. Sometimes they revivify the speaker in ways that truly blur the past with the present. For example, sometimes one can hear both the intake and exhalation of breath. What is more affirming of life than that! Another is that the microphone picks up dexterous sound executed by hands and fingers in the act of shuffling paper or turning the page.

All links accessed 28 June 2019.
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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.