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Showing posts from March, 2021

Sylvia Plath and her Amherst Men

When Sylvia Plath was at Smith College, she spent her fair share of free time going out on dates and socializing with Amherst College boys/young men. Some of them she knew from her high school days in Wellesley, too. One of the pleasures of editing her letters was identifying these young men but until recently I really only knew what one of these people looked like: Gordon Lameyer.  Due to the wonders of archives and digitization projects, and even resources like, more and more "information" (however you wish to define it) is becoming available. This post presents "information" on the young men Plath mentions in her letter. Information as in: what they looked like.  The Amherst College Olio has been digitized and is online for anyone to see. Thank you, Amherst! Using Plath's letters, I then went to each respective yearbook and simply saved an image of the page with the person's senior photograph. I have edited the jpgs to cover up faces and bio

Esther Greenwood's episode with Marco

There were two books that came out in 2013 that presented some of Sylvia Plath's month in June 1953 in very different ways. Those books were Andrew Wilson's partial Plath biography  Mad Girl's Love Song  and Elizabeth Winder's look at what's been termed as Plath's Bell Jar  summer,  Pain, Parties, Work . In Plath's final journal entry before her suicide attempt in August, 1953, she wrote: "New York: pain, parties, work. And Gary and ptomaine - and Jose the cruel Peruvian and Carol vomiting outside the door all over the floor - and interviews for TV shows, & competition, and beautiful models and Miss Abels:" (capable, and heaven knows what else.) And now this: shock. Utter nihilistic shock." Wilson's book is really very good but Winder seems to have gotten a fuller idea of what went on, having the benefit of interviewing many of Plath's fellow guest editors. In particular, Wilson and Winder disagree on the episode in The Bell Jar w

The passing of Sylvia Plath's family and friends

The recent news that Sylvia Plath's brother, Warren Joseph Plath, passed away was sad news to receive. I am grateful to JulieMcC for alerting me via Twitter.  One of the things I am trying to keep track of is when family and friends of Plath's pass away so that we can update their life dates in footnotes to The Letters of Sylvia Plath . You would not be incorrect to believe that one should spend their time in better ways, but keeping up-to-date on this is, I feel, important.  So after I learned of Warren Plath's passing, I went through both volumes of the Letters and searched for obituaries and death notices for anyone with an open-ended life span. Some of the people even passed away before 2017 when Volume 1 came out, but I either missed them or did not search deep enough or, in fact, the information may not have been as readily accessible as it is now. So here is a list of those who have passed away along with links to pages about their lives. May they all rest in pe

Whose Story Is It Anyway?

I am grateful that author Connie Palmen sent me a copy of her recently translated  Your Story, My Story , published by "Amazon Crossing". I had no intention of reading it, but found myself in need of a book and this was the only unread one on my bookshelf and I could not get to a library.  Not being a fan of fictionalizations of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, I entered it with perhaps an unfair bias, which I must be upfront about. And ultimately, was disappointed with this simple book. Or, maybe I should say that I was satisfied that in reading it, Your Story, My Story lived up to my expectations of being a bad book.  Your Story, My Story  is essentially just a summarizing and regurgitation of Hughes' Birthday Letters , and a few other texts. It is nowhere near as good or as authentic as the originals it basically plagiarizes. And it reminds me yet again that the REAL story of lives and experiences of Plath and Hughes, and the REAL poetry they wrote, is simply just far mor

Guest Pictures Blog Post: Photographs of Sylvia Plath's Cambridge Flat

Sylvia Plath lived at 55 Eltisley Avenue, Cambridge from approximately 7 December 1956 to 5 June 1957 when, on that day, they left Cambridge to convalesce in Heptonstall prior to sailing to the US. Ted Hughes lived there slightly longer as Plath was tied to Whitstead for the fall term.  Plath wrote to her mother, "On Dec. 7th a new life will begin" ( Letters V2 , 17). She wrote that at their new address they had a "livingroom, bedroom, kitchen & pantry" ( Letters V2 , 12).  To Marcia (then Plumer) Stern, she detailed that the living room was painted a pale blue and was furnished with a "dingy blue sofa, yellow lampshades & pillows, dark brown woodwork & furniture" ( Letters V2 , 37). She continued: "We painted myriads of fire bricks to match the walls & got good pine boards & built a 5-shelved bookcase 6 & ½ feet long, on which our growing book collection is stocked---very fine, our one wealth" ( Letters V2 , 37). When Pla