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.
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