01 January 2020

Who's Who at Sylvia Plath's Smith College

Sylvia Plath mentions a lot of people in letters and journals that she studied under and worked with at Smith College. Our friend Tim, known on Twitter as @ProjectPlath, sent me a 1957 Smith College Hamper, their yearbook. This is the year before Plath began teaching there. As I was looking through it, a new world opened; faces attaching themselves to names familiar.

So, here are some close-ups of people Plath knew. I do not have the Hamper's for the years Plath was a student there, so undoubtedly there are more people that could be shown. But I hope this is a good start. The names identified are those Plath had as teachers or advisers (or otherwise knew) and mentioned in letters, journals, calendars, etc. either when she was a student or a teacher, or both!

Alice N. Davis (standing, I think), Director of the Vocational Office

Benjamin Wright, President

Charles Jarvis Hill, English Department and Assistant to the President

Dr. Marion Booth (standing, center), College Physician and Professor of Bacteriology and Public Health

Eleanor Terry Lincoln (seated, hands together), Class Dean (1959) and English Department

Helen Whitcomb Randall, English Department, Dean of the college, and director of Honor Board

Mary Mensell, Director of Scholarships

William Bodden, Treasurer and Controller -- Plath liked him because he paid her award and prize money.

Here are the departments for the 1956-1957 year.

Art: Priscilla Paine Van der Poel (seated, second from left), Mervin M. Jules (standing third from left), and Mr. H. George Cohen (not pictured)

Botany (left image): Kenneth E. Wright (left image, man in the middle), also her adviser Freshman year.
Psychology (right image): Elsa Margareeta Siipola (seated, by window).

Chemistry: Kenneth Wayne Sherk (seated, hand on paper).

Classics: Edward Washburn Spofford
Not in 1956-1957 yearbook

English: Plath had and mentioned a ton of them. She replaced Betty Isobelle Bandeen as English 11 and shared an office with Katherine Gee Hornbeak. Anthony Hecht is rocking that beard.

French: Madeleine Guilleton (standing, far left).

German: Marie Schnieders (seated, left) and Marion Sonnenfeld (standing, right).


History: Elisabeth Ahlgrimm Koffka (seated, third from right) and Klemens Van Klemperer (standing, second from left, just his head is visible), Sidney Monas (standing, second from right).

Physics William Taussig Scott (standing second from left, with bow tie)


Religion: Virginia Corwin (seated, middle) and Stephen Trowbridge Crary (standing, second from left).


Russian: George Gibian (seated, left)

Sociology: Neal Breaule DeNood (bottom right photo, seated second from left, with mustache)

Spanish: Manuel E. DurĂ¡n (seated, left, with pipe)


All links accessed 18 December 2019.

1 comment :

Mark Mabberley said...

I have the Hamper's for 1951 to 1955.
Sylvia is mentioned and/or pictured in the 1952 to 1955 editions.

The 1953 to 1955 editions came from the same owner, who signed her copies and I've identified her within. She was in a different house to Sylvia. The two earlier editions came from two separate owners.
As with the 1957 edition there are many staff photographs that someone with an encyclopaedic memory or hours to spare could likely tie in with mentions in Sylvia's correspondence, journals, etc.

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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.

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