24 October 2020

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 with limited abilities, Emory is offering online access to these recordings. Contact the Rose Library for access instructions. 

The medium of the cassette tape is fairly stable, but the quality of the recordings takes some getting used to what with muffled voices, background noises, dogs, tea cups, cars honking, etc. In fact the recording of Al Alvarez appears to be literally have been conducted in the flight path of Heathrow Airport. One of the more amazing things about this is hearing the younger voices of Plath's friends and acquaintances like Elizabeth Sigmund, Winifred Davies, Nancy Axworthy, Lorna and David Secker-Walker, Elinor Klein, Perry Norton, Marcia Stern, and many, many more.

I have listened to most of the tapes at this point and have sent a list of corrections---which I am sure is annoying---to Emory that I hope they make to the finding aid. There are about 76 hours or so.

If you do take advantage of this opportunity, I recommend considering sending Emory's Rose Library a financial donation of appreciation.  

All links accessed 24 October 2020.


20 October 2020

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", "Fever 103°", and "Purdah".

2. Ted Hughes to Henry Rago, circa late January/early February 1963: Written at 110 Cleveland Street, sending corrections to "Heatwave" and "Era of Giant Lizards" and submitting additional poems. Published in December 1963 Poetry along with "Poem to Robert Graves Perhaps", "On Westminster Bridge", "After Lorca", and "Small Hours".

3. Henry Rago to Ted Hughes, 12 February 1963: Thanking TH for sending new poems and saying they'll publish them with some other poems already accepted.

4. Julie McLauchlin to J A McLaren, 23 April 1963: Providing biographical and bibliographical information about Sylvia Plath.

5. Waddell Austin to Elizabeth Wright, 6 May 1963: Asking permission to reprint poems in the Borestone annual volume, including SP's "Face Lift".

6. Elizabeth Wright to Waddell Austin, 8 May 1963: Granting permission.

7. Julie McLauchlin to Ted Hughes, 24 June 1963: Enclosing proofs of SP's three poems for the August 1963 issue of Poetry. Sent to 110 Cleveland Street.

8. Sherman Conrad to Henry Rago, 3 September 1963: Commenting favorably about SP's poems in the August issue of Poetry as well as The New Yorker.

9. Ted Hughes to Henry Rago, circa November 1963: Asking about payment for SP's poems from the August issue and sending in some corrected proofs. Sent from Court Green.

10. Henry Rago to Ted Hughes, 20 November 1963: Replying to TH's undated letter above confirming they had sent a check for SP's poems on 6 August 1963. Asking that TH check very carefully for this check, sent to Court Green.

11. Charles Cox to Henry Rago, 10 August 1964: Asking about permission to print Hughes' "After Lorca" in a Critical Quarterly shilling anthology.


The typescripts are Plath's original poem submissions with editorial markups throughout: "Face Lift", "Heavy Women", "Love Letter", "Stars Over the Dordogne", and "Widow" and then "Eavesdropper", "Fever 103°", and "Purdah".

The proofs take various forms and shapes and are for Plath's poems in the March 1962 and August 1963 issues, and for Hughes' December 1963 appearance. Included are Plath's author's proof corrections for the March 1962 issue with her corrections and signature.

All links accessed 4 and 21 May 2018 and 19 October 2020.

18 October 2020

'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 format limited edition books by writer, and former Haçienda DJ, Dave Haslam. Book four in the series explores three intense and life-defining visits to Paris made by Sylvia Plath.

Published on 20 October 2020 by the Manchester-based independent publishers, Confingo. ISBN: 978-0-9955966-7-2. £7 in UK, £9.50 outside UK (inc. p&p).

All links accessed 4 October 2020

15 October 2020

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 Amazon.com'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 Plath's work as if her every act, from childhood on, was a harbinger of her tragic fate, Clark evokes a culture in transition, in the shadow of the atom bomb and the Holocaust, as she explores Plath's world: her early relationships and determination not to become a conventional woman and wife; her conflicted ties to her well-meaning, widowed mother; her troubles at the hands of an unenlightened mental-health industry; her Cambridge years and thunderclap meeting with Ted Hughes, a marriage of true minds that would change the course of poetry in English; and much more. Clark's clear-eyed portraits of Hughes, his lover Assia Wevill, and other demonized players in the arena of Plath's suicide promotes a deeper understanding of her final days, with their outpouring of first-rate poems. Along with illuminating readings of the poems themselves, Clark's meticulous, compassionate research brings us closer than ever to the spirited woman and visionary artist who blazed a trail that still lights the way for women poets the world over.

Heather and I will be discussing Red Comet (and more?!) on Friday, 23 October 2020 at a virtual event hosted by Politics & Prose. Please join us if you can!


Red Comet
 will be published in the US on the 27th by Knopf. The ISBN is 978-0307961167. 

All links accessed: 20 September 2020.  

12 October 2020

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.  

10 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.

05 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.

01 October 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.

 



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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.

Interviews