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Showing posts from July, 2021

(Not) Sylvia Plath's Tomato Soup Spice Cake

In 2017, Eva gave me a tomato soup cake that she made (frosting on the side and as I have no pride left I can admit that I ate what did not make it onto the cake directly out of the jar with a spoon. It was that good).  Plath's tomato soup spice cake is fairly legendary. Plath herself mentions it just once in her letters (15 September 1961, from Court Green;  Letters,  Vol. II , p. 649, Amazon ) and no times, that I could find, in her journals. Plath did make several references to it in her 1962 Letts tablet. On 22, 25, and 26 February and 10 May. The cake has a life of its own on the internet, frequently being written about, but always using someone else's recipe. Until now. Lot 45 of Frieda Hughes' auction of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes items includes some recipe cards and a rolling pin. One of the recipes is "her" Tomato Soup Spice Cake. I say "her", in quotes, but really the recipe is not Sylvia Plath's at all. Sotheby's did not include the

Sylvia Plath at Sotheby's: The Results

Sotheby's London offered, from 9 to 21 July 2021, a 55-lot auction of personal effects of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, entitled " Your Own Sylvia: Sylvia Plath’s letters to Ted Hughes and other items, property of Frieda Hughes ". This is a different style auction to the two recent ones hosted Bonhams in March 2018  (auction 24633) and June 2021  (auction 26773). All images from Sotheby's. The bulk of the lots--34 in total--are the 16 and 18 letters from Sylvia Plath to Ted Hughes and to his parents followed by various lots of photographs. These were first published in volumes I & II of The Letters of Sylvia Plath (2017, 2018). Included also are the couple's wedding rings, Sylvia Plath's recipe cards & rolling pin, her tarot deck, some chopsticks, other household items, a few Ted Hughes things, and more.  Here follows a brief description of the lots along with the estimate and realized prices, which will include the buyer's premium. All prices ar

Two copies of Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar

I bought recently two editions of Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar that I did not have. They have something in common: relatively hideous covers! The first one here is the 2015 Arcturus edition. And what chafes me about this one is on the back, there is a "quote", presumably from the book: "If you expect nothing from anybody, you're never disappointed". However, anyone really familiar with the novel will know it is a misquote. Esther's actual words are: "If you expect nothing from somebody you are never disappointed." These words appear in Chapter Five and funnily enough---sloppily enough---it appears correct  in the text block. So, shame on the person who wrote the text for the back of the book. The error is repeated in th3 2018 edition. The second cover here is an edition published by Robin Books, an imprint of Adarsh Books, which hails from New Dehli, India. I have no clue at all what the heck is going on with the cover, but it was a book I'

Did you know... Sylvia Plath's Typewriters!

The idea for this post came to me back in August 2012! And for no real reason other than gross negligence, it has been festering in my "Blog Drafts" folder since then. I meant to post it in 2019, but then somehow now it is 2021. Today is the day to change all that. Better now, perhaps, than never. Sylvia Plath used a number of different typewriters during her lifetime. The typewriter identified in the below 1954 photograph of Sylvia Plath at her 26 Elmwood Road house in Wellesley is the Hermes 2000. More about Hermes typewriters . When Plath was at Smith College as a student and into her time at Cambridge when she was on Fulbright, she used the Smith-Corona Sterling. The above photo on the left was simply, permanently, borrowed from an eBay listing. However, there is a photograph of Plath's own typewriter, on her desk in Lawrence House, in her Smith College Scrapbook held by the Lilly Library. In this photo (above right, cropped), the distinctive ligh

Sylvia Plath at Midyear, 2021

The first half of 2021 is in the rear view mirror. Sylvia Plath featured in every day for me, and maybe for you. In April and May, in the US and in the UK, respectively, readers were treated to the publication of Three-Martini Afternoons: The Rebellion of Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton ( publisher's website ). A  new edition  of Plath's poems is in the works for a 2024(ish) publication with Faber and Faber in London. Heather Clark's massive, commendable Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath was shortlisted for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize. This is a phenomenal accomplishment and recognition for Clark's tome ( publisher's website ). Congratulations, Heather. Red Comet is a remarkable achievement. Paulina Bren published a biography of The Barbizon Hotel ( publisher's website ). Plath features a little bit in it, I am told. On  14 June, Janet Malcolm , author of The Silent Woman: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes , passed away. Here and there I was worki