A Walk with Sylvia Plath in Cambridge

There are moments in Sylvia Plath's journals and letters, as well as her poems and stories, where she provides enough information so that you might, if curious, take a walk with her words. In the last week or so I have been reading her journals and one such entry, one of many to be honest, sent me to Google Street View for the umpteenth time to see the view she described with her eyes.

On 11 March 1957, Plath wrote her and entry about a walk down the Fen Causeway to a fish and chips shop. It  has been always an interesting one to me. A favorite, perhaps. Plath obsesses over the orange hue of the streetlights, and that color seems both ominous and ethereal in the way she uses it describing her scene. Even the color of the fried fish and chips, in one's mind, is orange-ish.  Where was she going with this idea? The presence of the gun, too, is a bit weird. 

Towards the end of the entry the speaker and her male companion pass a monastery, then Plath writes, "The glass lantern, the streetlight at the end of the street, against a brick wall, lit up the white background of the sign: "St. Elegius Street". Black letters. So neat. Always, I must remember this: the clear light in the square of iron ribs and glass. How fresh that sign shows."

This is the corner of St. Elegius Street and Pemberton Terrace and is, I believe, the place Plath writes about in the entry.  

You can see in the top picture a post going up and you can see a brick wall right behind it. That is a streetlight but the tree is blocking it from view. The second image shows the street sign and, as well, an additional light. A winter evening/night image of this view would be nice to see and feel a bit more authentic.

Here is a map showing where 55 Eltisley Avenue is and the possible route they took to the Fen Causeway. The journal entry also mentions "Russell Street" being up on the "right", which leads me to believe the people in the entry made it as far as Hills Road (A1307). 

I have not been to Cambridge since 2003. I need to remedy this as soon as it is safe to do so...


  1. This will definitely be a stop on my Plath UK pilgrimage next year!


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