Skip to main content

Sylvia Plath Collections: Siv Arb

I am extremely grateful to Eva Stenskar for sharing the information with me presented in this blog post.

Back in November 2021, Eva wrote to me about an article she read that mentioned two letters from Plath to Siv Arb. This was news! The article, "När Sylvia Plath kom till Sverige" by Anna-Klara Bojö, was published on 8 April 2021, on the Ord & Bild website.  

The letters were dated 5 May 1962---just after Arb visited Court Green---and 21 July 1962, just as Plath's marriage was crumbling down. It appears to be a good article (such as is possible to trust the Google translation...for example, "Elm" in Swedish is "Almen" but through Google translate it displays as "General".)

The 5 May 1962 letter was written on the same day Plath wrote to Judith Jones, thanking her belatedly for the first copy she saw of the Knopf edition of The Colossus. In the letter to Arb, Plath enclosed a few poems (no longer with the letter) and mentions by title some of her recent stories. Recent in this instance is a case of semantics as the stories are from 1959. Bojö informed me that Arb's archive, which reportedly is going to the Gothenburg University, does not contain any typescripts. 



The 21 July 1962 letter, written on the same day Plath wrote to Al Alvarez and Richard Murphy, was published in 1985 in the Swedish journal Lyrikvännen. The letter was accompanied by a photograph---previously unknown to about 99.999999994% of us---of Plath in her front living room looking out of the window towards the wall of old corpses and St. Peter's Church. It captures Plath in a weird light and at a strange side angle.

Ted Hughes has several poems in this issue of Lyrikvännen, too. As well, there are some facsimiles of letters to Arb, and a photograph of him reading papers in the front garden of Court Green with his children in proximity to him. 

Did you know... Eva made a comment in one of the monthly Sylvia Plath Society research-sharing meetings (January) that was terrifically interesting. Did you know... that Plath's "Elm" appeared in print for the first time in translation (by Siv Arb) in the Autumn 1962 issue of Rondo, a Swedish journal, before it appeared in print in English (The New Yorker, 3 August 1963). In Rondo, "Elm" appeared along side "Tulips" and "The Colossus".

Thank you Eva and Anna-Klara!

All links accessed 13 February and 1 May 2022.

If you benefited from this post or any content on the Sylvia Plath Info Blog, my website for Sylvia Plath (A celebration, this is), and @sylviaplathinfo on Twitter, then please consider sending me a tip via PayPal. Thank you for at least considering! All funds will be put towards my Sylvia Plath research.

Popular posts from this blog

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

Sylvia Plath's Gravestone Vandalized

The following news story appeared online this morning: HEPTONSTALL, ENGLAND (APFS) - The small village of Heptonstall is once again in the news because of the grave site of American poet Sylvia Plath. The headstone controversy rose to a fever pitch in 1989 when Plath's grave was left unmarked for a long period of time after vandals repeatedly chiseled her married surname Hughes off the stone marker. Author Nick Hornby commented, "I like Plath, but the controversy reaching its fever pitch in the 80s had nothing to do with my book title choice." Today, however, it was discovered that the grave was defaced but in quite an unlikely fashion. This time, Plath's headstone has had slashed-off her maiden name "Plath," so the stone now reads "Sylvia Hughes." A statement posted on Twitter from @masculinistsfortedhughes (Masculinists for Ted Hughes) has claimed responsibility saying that, "We did this because as Ted Hughes' first wife, Sylvia de

(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