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Showing posts from 2020

"Merciless churn": Sylvia Plath Year in Review 2020

2020 started off with an absolute Sylvia Plath bang with the news that Emory University purchased the Harriet Rosenstein papers related to Sylvia Plath. A few of us knew about it in late 2019, but when the collection would open for research was unclear. Well, they were opened up first thing . I hired Emily Banks, a graduate student at Emory, to take photographs of the papers. Throughout January and into very early February, Emily sent me daily files and it was kind of a mad flurry new information. It resulted in a streak of blog posts that I hope conveyed what it was like for me to read the files and try to process all the information. The best way to see these posts would be to look at the January and, respectively, February blog archives.  There are other blog posts in there, too. For example, I was privileged to join Janet Badia, Heather Clark, and Julie Goodspeed-Chadwick in Seattle for an MLA conference panel on Plath studies and Assia Wevill. It was great fun, though our panel

Amy C. Rea Reviews Heather Clark's Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath

Here’s a thing about me: I’m a voracious reader, but very rarely have a physically based emotional response to something I’m reading. I don’t laugh out loud, I don’t cry, both of which I do when watching movies. It’s not that I don’t find things funny or sad when I read, but apparently I need more of a visual cue. So it’s telling that when I got to the end of Dr. Heather Clark’s new biography of Sylvia Plath, Red Comet , I cried. It’s not as if I didn’t know how the story ended. But the level of detail and analysis Clark brings to her study of Plath is so detailed, and her examination of those brutal last weeks so deeply explored, that it broke my heart. Clark has done some tremendously important and much-needed work with this biography. It would be remiss of me not to note the aid she received from Peter K. Steinberg and the work he did compiling Plath’s Letters . Clark clearly spent a great deal of time studying these source materials, as well as others that were not available

Sylvia Plath's Ex-Libris at Yale

Yale University's Beinecke Library recently acquired four books from Sylvia Plath's library. Three of the books originated in that big March 2018 auction held by Bonhams . Two are by R.S. Thomas: Song at the Year's Turning (1960);  Tares (1961)  Both have birthday inscriptions by Ted Hughes from October 1961. Please note a presentation copy from R. S. Thomas to Plath and Hughes is held by Emory. The third is  The Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins  (1949). Another book now at Yale, and likely from the auction, is About Sylvia produced by Enid Mark, Plath's former classmate at Smith College. The fourth book is  The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas , formerly belonging to the late Elizabeth Sigmund. This book sold  via Bonhams auction in June 2019 . The winner was  Peter Harrington Rare Books in London , who flipped it to Yale. In sum, the Beinecke has a very strong collection of Sylvia Plath books. Each of these has been updated in Sylvia Plath's L

A View from Sylvia Plath's "Day of Success"

Sylvia Plath wrote her short story "Day of Success" sometime in 1961. Most likely between February and August. She was living at the time in 3 Chalcot Square (based on the address on a typescript held by Smith College), the building that later thirty-nine years later was awarded a special English Heritage Blue Plaque.  The seeds of the story had been fertilizing for some time as the story features a young married couple with a baby. The baby is six-months old. But it would be false, as I once did, to think that the story was composed circa October 1960 when Plath's daughter Frieda was that age. The story expertly merges events over several months, which is something Plath employed, also, in writing The Bell Jar . But it likely cannot have been written then because of a later scene in which Jacob Ross returns home very late from a business meeting with Denise Kaye to discuss a play of his. The even this may have been famously modeled from is the one where Ted Hughes return

New Book with Sylvia Plath Chapter

Susan E. Schwartz , who has published a number of essays on Sylvia Plath, has a book coming out with Routledge entitled  The Absent Father Effect on Daughters: Father Desire Father Wounds . Chapter 14 is called "Sylvia Plath's 'Daddy'". The publication date is scheduled for next Monday, 30 November 2020.  The book description, from the Routledge website, reads: The Absent Father Effect on Daughters investigates the impact of absent – physically or emotionally – and inadequate fathers on the lives and psyches of their daughters through the perspective of Jungian analytical psychology. This book tells the stories of daughters who describe the insecurity of self, the splintering and disintegration of the personality, and the silencing of voice. Issues of fathers and daughters reach to the intra-psychic depths and archetypal roots, to issues of self and culture, both personal and collective. Susan E. Schwartz illustrates the maladies and disappointments of daught

Sylvia Plath Collections: The Rosenstein Tapes

The Rosenstein tapes are getting use which is wonderful. I hope everyone accessing them is enjoying them and learning new information about Sylvia Plath and her life, times, experiences, and acquaintances.  Many of the tapes are showing, right now in Emory's The Keep, as undated. This blog post addresses that by presenting the dates listed on Rosenstein's typed interview notes. Email the Rose Library if you want to eavesdrop, too.  I am offering the interview date information two ways, first is alphabetical by last name of the interviewee. The second way is in date order. If so chosen, the latter way allows you to learn information in just the same fashion that Rosenstein did. It is interesting to see revelations, corrections of errors, and the like.  Alphabetical Alvarez, Al: 1970 August 8 Avery, John: 1970 August 3 Axworthy, Nancy:  1973 December 5 Bailey, Norman: circa 1975 February 1 Baskin, Leonard: 1971 December 16 Beuscher, Ruth: 1970 June 16 Blackwell, Connie Taylor: 19

Sylvia Plath's Mutual of Omaha Insurance Card

One of the items in the Big Bonhams auction back in 2018 was a wallet containing seven membership cards (Lot 330) to various organizations such as the Boston Public Library, her drivers license, the Poetry Society of America, and an insurance card with Mutual of Omaha ( see this post, if interested ). The winner of the lot has been selling the cards off one by one. They have appeared in various auction houses ( Nate Sanders  last December for $1500), Barneby's  for $7,500!, and ebay) and formats since that time. At one point some where being offered for obscenely unrealistic prices. Most have sold, I believe.  Minutes ago, Plath's insurance card with Mutual of Omaha was offered for sale via Heritage Auctions. It is signed "Sylvia P. Hughes" and Plath has also filled in her husband's name. The back of the card was filled out by Aurelia Schober Plath as the emergency contact person and includes Sylvia Plath's religious affiliation and blood type which was O. As

Sylvia Plath Collections: The Rosenstein Tapes

A few weeks back, Gail Crowther and I discussed a bit the Rosenstein audio tapes which have been digitized by Emory and are available to listen to from the comfort of your home or office. It was mentioned, as well, in my talk with Heather Clark and in this blog post .  All one needs to do is write to the Rose Library , sign a waiver, and you will receive a login to access the materials in The Keep. The tapes are really interesting but must be listened to with the volume on high, but beware that occasional shouts and laughter and other noises (phones, babies, toddlers, airplanes, cars, motorcycles, sirens, matches being struck) frequently appear and thus you could blow out your eardrums. Please note there is Ted Hughes material in this as well. And, bonus material is digitized home video from Gerald Hughes' Christmas 1964 visit to England. There are two: one is centered in London and features, very briefly, Ted Hughes and Assia Wevill. Another one is from North Tawton, Yorkshire, a

Sylvia Plath in TLS

Sylvia Plath published two poems in the 6 November 1959 issue of TLS ( Times Literary Supplement ). They appeared just at the end of her time at Yaddo, and mere weeks before she sailed from New York back to England, for good. The TLS is a large format periodical printed on newspaper paper. Back in 1959 the issues were very big, certainly much bigger than it is today. This title is harder to come by, and indeed I believe its format also makes it more difficult to find in the original. But I was able to locate and acquire a copy recently with the help of some "tip" money a few kind people sent. See, I told you I would use it for Plath stuff! How I am going to store it is a question since it is a bigger item and the paper rather more fragile (acidic, brittle) than the kind used in magazines and journals. The two poems were "The Hermit at Outermost House" and "Two Views of a Cadaver Room". Plath submitted them sometime in 1959; just when is not known. Th

Collected Writings of Assia Wevill manuscript submitted

  Julie Goodspeed-Chadwick and I are very happy to say we submitted our manuscript for The Collected Writings of Assia Wevill  to the published, LSU Press, last Monday, 26 October. We are very excited to see it in their hands.  The manuscript, including more than twenty photographs and scans of documents we will use for illustrations, stretches to 298 pages. In it, you will read Assia Wevill's life and experiences in her own words with contextual annotations that bring color and information to her texts. We began this project with a vision to assemble Selected Writings back in the spring of 2018 and it is so thrilling to see it to this point, where we of necessity had to elevate it to something as comprehensive as a Collected Writings .  It was an honor and a privilege to work on this project---Julie's third book; my fifth book (the sixth is done, nearly, too)---with Julie, and our contacts at the Press have been marvelous. Thank you, Julie! And, as well, thank you to any who

Heather Clark's Sylvia Plath Biography Red Comet Published in the US

Heather Clark's  Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath is published officially in the US today by Knopf.  The ISBN is 978-0307961167. The cover price is $36.The book is an outstanding 1,152 pages, with a comprehensive index and exhaustive, not to be missed notes. The reviews have been appearing since the summer. Due to delays in printing because of the world situation, the publication was pushed back several times. But now the book is officially out and readers will now get up to date with the most current life details on Sylvia Plath.  Here is a list of reviews: Kirkus Review , 1 July 2020 Michelle Renee Kidwell, Medium , 25 July 2020 Publisher's Weekly , 14 August 2020 Anna Spydell, Book Page , October 2020 Hamilton Cain, Oprah Magazine , October 2020 Andrew Wilson, Evening Standard , 8 October 2020 Lyndon Gordon, Daily Telegraph , 10 October 2020 J.P. O'Malley, Irish Independent , 11 October 2020 Laura Freeman, The Times , 15 October 2020 Anna Les

Last Night's Sylvia Plath event with Heather Clark

Last night I was privileged to have a conversation with Heather Clark, author of the imminently published (in the US) Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath hosted by Washington D.C. independent bookstore Politics and Prose .  The event was recorded and broadcast live on YouTube and is available now for consumption . Hope that you enjoy the hour long program. I really lovely every moment of it. I did not have the chance (or concentration ability) to see the full list of attendees but thank you to all who attended, and, as well, to all who watch it now. Buy the book from Politics and Prose ! One of the topics we discussed was the Harriet Rosenstein archive which is held by Emory University. You may remember in January and February this blog featured a lot of posts about the recently opened collection. Between then and maybe the summer, sometime, Emory was digitizing the audio cassette tapes that came with it. Due to the times, with a lot of places being closed or wit

Sylvia Plath Collections: Poetry at the Lilly Library

The following post was drafted in 2018! As October is American Archives Month is seems rather appropriate to dust and thus polish this post off in the middle of it.  The Poetry archive is split between the University of Chicago and the Lilly Library. At the same time, the journal's headquarters in Chicago maintains an archive itself of documents and books that are likely very valuable resources. This post is specifically about the holdings at the Lilly Library, which I received copies of as part of some of the last minute and tangential work I was doing on The Letters of Sylvia Plath . The post from 2013 about the holdings at the University of Chicago can be read here . The Poetry materials at the Lilly Library can be broadly classed into three categories: correspondence, typescripts, and proofs. First up, the correspondence, with brief annotations about the content of each letter: 1. Henry Rago to Sylvia Plath, 27 December 1962: accepting three poems "Eavesdropper&qu

'My Second Home': Sylvia Plath in Paris, 1956 by Dave Halsam

This post is about a new book by author and DJ Dave Haslam:  'My Second Home': Sylvia Plath in Paris, 1956 . Sylvia Plath was in Paris during Easter 1956, alone in a hotel near Notre Dame. She’d grown to love the city after spending Christmas there with Richard Sassoon and she’d hoped he‘d be with her for Easter too, but he hadn’t answered her letters. She’d met Ted Hughes a month earlier; Ted was also in her head, and within ten weeks they’d be married. In 'My Second Home': Sylvia Plath in Paris, 1956 , Dave Haslam explores this key period in Sylvia Plath’s life. We discover how she filled those Paris days, including dinner with an Italian communist, embracing the idea of drunken afternoon sex with a friend of a friend, sketching in the park, and lying on her yellow bed in an attic room listening to the sound of the rain as she considered decisions and future plans: in her phrase, ‘the fatal dance’ of choices and alternatives. Art Decades is a series of small form

Heather Clark's Red Comet Biography of Sylvia Plath Published Today

Heather Clark's long-anticipated biography Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath is published as of today in the UK. Order from Amazon or support your local bookshops to get your copy. The book is published by Jonathan Cape. It is a behemoth: 1,152 pages. The ISBN is 978-1787332539. From's description: The highly anticipated new biography of Sylvia Plath that focuses on her remarkable literary and intellectual achievements, while restoring the woman behind the long-held myths about her life and art. With a wealth of never-before-accessed materials--including unpublished letters and manuscripts; court, police, and psychiatric records; and new interviews--Heather Clark brings to life the brilliant daughter of Wellesley, Massachusetts who had poetic ambition from a very young age and was an accomplished, published writer of poems and stories even before she became a star English student at Smith College in the early 1950s. Determined not to read Pl

Elizabeth Jennings' copy of Sylvia Plath's The Colossus

On the 1st of the month , I blogged about an auction taking place on the 8th. Because I am nice. Because I am thoughtful, I wanted to briefly follow-up to report that the copy of Sylvia Plath's The Colossus  (Heinemann, 1960) that was owned by Elizabeth Jennings (and which was accompanied by a first Knopf edition, 1962). The book was in Lot 187 and it sold for a very handsome $3,500 (including buyer's premium). This was $2,000 over the high estimate of $1,500. Bravo. All links accessed 12 October 2020.  

Sylvia Plath Society to Host Zoom Party

The Sylvia Plath Society will host a Zoom Birthday party on Saturday, 24 October 2020. The event starts at 13:00 New York Time; or 18:00 London time. Registration is required . Four panels comprise the event: I. Plathoween: Occultism, Tarot, and Witches Speakers: Giulia Listo, Julia Bramer, Dorka Tamás Chair: Sarah Corbett II. Plath and Menstruation Speakers: Emily Van Dyne, Maria Rovito, Eilish Mulholland Chair: Nick Smart III. Writing about Plath: Challenges and Pleasures Speakers: Peter K. Steinberg, Gail Crowther, Dave Haslam Chair: Kitty Shaw IV. Plath and Parties: Celebrating Plath, Plath and Celebrations Speakers: Julie Irigaray, Trish Grisafi, Jenna Finan Chair: Dorka Tamás For more information, please visit the program page . All links accessed 8 October 2020.

Event with Sylvia Plath's newest biographer Heather Clark

On Friday, 23 October 2020, at 8 PM, Heather Clark, author of the new biography Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath , and I will have a conversation about her book courtesy of Politics and Prose, a Washington, D.C. based independent bookstore.  The event is free, you just simply have to register .  All links accessed 28 September 2020.

Two Sylvia Plath Auctions

On 8 October 2020, Elizabeth Jennings' copy of Sylvia Plath's The Colossus (Heinemann) will be offered for sale (along with a Knopf, 1962 edition) via Hindman Auctions out of Chicago, Illinois .  It is sale number 759, lot number 187. Starting bid is $500 and it does not take much imagination to realize that is low for a gorgeous looking copy of the book with this poetical association.  And catching up on a missed auction from 7 November 2017, in Lot 197  Doyle sold an extremely rare copy of A Winter Ship , which was published by the Tragara Press in 1960. The This was initialed by Plath "sph" and included a note/inscription. It was sent to Ruth Geissler. The final price including buyer's premium was a very reasonable $6.875. I had the pleasure of seeing this gorgeous item in person when I met Ruth in November 2015. Image sources: Hindman Auctions (top); Doyle (bottom).  All links accessed 28 September 2020.  

Organizing my Sylvia Plath Periodicals

This has been a strange year, no? I took advantage of the extended period that I at home in the spring and spent some time organizing some of my Sylvia Plath stuff. In particular, the magazines in which Plath published her verse and prose. These were largely in order to begin with but the folders were unlabeled. Which made finding anything pretty frustrating. Now, they are labeled and in proper date order, with title of magazine, date, title of Plath's work, and page number. So I should be able to find anything I need in a jiffy. Above are larger format magazines; below are the smaller format journals. If you are interested in seeing a more or less complete bibliography of Plath's publications , just go to A celebration, this is ! Thanks and have a nice day. If you benefited from this post or any content on the Sylvia Plath Info Blog, my website for Sylvia Plath ( A celebration, this is ), and @sylviaplathinfo on Twitter , then please consider sending me a ti

Sylvia Plath's copy of Samuel Beckett's Waiting For Godot

Sylvia Plath's copy of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot (London, Faber and Faber, 1956) is another of the books from her personal library held by Smith College and open for research. Her copy was the second impression, February 1956. Her ownership inscription on the front free endpaper reads, "Sylvia Plath, 1956". The play debuted in London at the Arts Theatre on 3 August 1955 and shortly thereafter transferred to the Criterion Theatre, which is where Plath saw in on 20 September 1955, mere hours after landing at Southampton earlier in the day. Her pocket calendar, held by the Lilly Library that likely no seconds were wasted in exploring her new city and country: Breakfast at 7 on board the ship; photographed in a group by Evening Standard ; customs; train to London (Waterloo); bus to Regents Park; attended speeches and teas; dinner with Carl Shakin, her "shipboard romance"; and then Waiting for Godot . In her 25 September 1955 letter to her mot