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Showing posts from June, 2022

Did you know:... Caution: Sylvia Plath's "Three Women" in Winter Trees

In November 2010 I visited for a day the Hornbake Library at the University of Maryland, College Park, to work with the Frances McCullough papers. Recently browsing through the notes made there, I was reminded about a "Did you know..." post that I wanted to write. So it only took me 12 years... The UK edition of Plath's Winter Trees  was published on 27 September 1971. The American edition was issued 51 weeks later on 20 September 1972.  In working with the proofs of the book that are there, I noticed some additional text in the preliminary pages of one of these editions. Did you know... the US edition prints a caution opposite the "Note" by Ted Hughes which is absent from the Faber counterpart? Faber Harper & Row CAUTION Lawless Americans!

Sylvia Plath in Smith College newspapers

One way to add context to Sylvia Plath's letters and journals---that is, to her autobiographical life---during her years at Smith College is to read what was written about her by her classmates and/or other peers in the Smith College Associated News ( SCAN ) or The Sophian .  Plath mentioned SCAN in a letter from her first days at Smith (26 September 1950). But even though mentions in her own writings are scant, Plath was familiar with the newspapers and likely read them eagerly. It can be both enjoyable and illustrative to read the very words Plath read about herself in a way that feels more direct and immediate than through the transformation or translation of events by biographers. Here are some of the articles that appeared where Plath's name was mentioned. The article below appeared in The Sophian when Plath returned to teach at Smith and is about her prose work "Cambridge Vistas", which was first published in March 1956 as "Leaves from a Cambridge Notebo

Reprinting Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath meticulously kept track of her publication endeavors. She made submissions lists from around the time she a junior in High School (1948-1949) to within days of her death in February 1963. She was assuredly the consummate professional. If a work was published she usually kept a copy of its appearance for herself, though there are some instances were poems or works in prose were not retained by her (or her estate)--- see this post on her "Class Poem", for example . However, her poetry was reprinted periodically in publications (newspapers mostly) about which she likely never knew. That is the subject of this blog post. Stephen Tabor's seminal Analytical Bibliography did not have the advantage of so much text-searchable digital content. But even if it had, some of these publications that will be mentioned today may not have appeared in the pages of his cherished book. His book tended not to include second publications of Plath's works. Which is absolutely f

New Articles on Sylvia Plath's First Suicide Attempt

Normally this kind of update appears in August, but for various reasons it is appearing today. Since I wrote last year , a number of new articles on Sylvia Plath's first suicide attempt have been digitized. Each was transcribed and was added to the full bibliography of articles on Plath's first suicide attempt on my website, A celebration, this is . The ten new articles appear below. "Missing Student." Birmingham Post-Herald . 26 August 1953: 23. "Missing Poetess Hunted 3 Days Found in Cellar."  Birmingham Post-Herald . 27 August 1953: 11. "Student Disappears." The Macon News . 26 August 1953: 1. "Student Found." The Macon News . 27 August 1963: 25. "100 Hunt Smith Girl in Mass. Woods." The Lewiston Daily Sun . 26 August 1953: 1. "Find Smith Girl Under House Porch." The Lewiston Daily Sun . 27 August 1953: 1. "Missing Mass. Girl is Found." The Lewiston Evening Journal. 26 August 1953: 2. "Brilliant Stud

Sylvia Plath's Toll House Cookies

On 5 July 1943, Sylvia Plath wrote to her mother from Camp Weetamoe in New Hampshire that she consumed "5 Tollhouse cookies" ( Letters Vol I , 10). From Smith College seven years later, Plath casually mentioned that if her mother wanted to send her something that "Toll house cookies will be most welcome. I’m too hungry to share many, so will eat them with my before-bed glass of milk" (202). By summer 1951 when she was living with the Mayo family in their Swampscott house, Plath was making them herself (350). Her love of Toll House cookies is rather legendary. (What Plath called Toll House cookies are, largely, to us, the simple chocolate chip cookie). There are about sixteen references to these cookies between the two volumes of letters and just one in her journals.  When the batch of Plath's recipes cards (and rolling pin) hit the auction house last summer ( Lot 45 ), many were excited about the Tomato Soup Cake recipe . Being a lover a chocolate myself, I want

An undated, untitled prose work of Sylvia Plath

A friend recently let me know about a typescript page of some unidentified, untitled prose of Plath's wondered if I had seen it before. The answer was no, not really. However, after reading said typescript and Googling a random phrase, I learned that it was in fact published in the 1982 abridged edition of The Journals of Sylvia Plath (published in the US only).  Said text was printed in the Cambridge years section (1955-1957) under the heading of "Novel" on pages 150-51 of the abridged edition. It followed a subsection entitled "All the Dead Dears" and a "Poem" idea on page 149. The interlude from Plath's actual journals continues with the rather famous 25 February 1956 entry "Hello, hello. It is about time I sat down and described some things: Cambridge, people, ideas..." (151). For those with the unabridged Journals, the "All the Dead Dears" notes appears in an appendix on page 579; and the "Poem" idea a bit latae

Sylvia Plath: Did you know...

In early 1998, for those of us who were alive, the poetry world was abuzz with Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath, and, sad to say, Jewel. The first two because of Birthday Letters . The third name, because...well, it was a dark time... In March 1998, Robert Haas was recently replaced as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress by Robert Pinksy, but he was a the author of a weekly "Poet's Choice" column in The Washington Post 's Sunday insert Book World . He would feature a poem and discuss it. It was must-read reading for me at the time; the column stopped in 2000. Did you know... Haas' "Poet's Choice" selection for Sunday 15 March 1998 was Sylvia Plath's "By Candlelight". The following week was a poem by Ted Hughes ("Crow's Nerve Fails").  I found the above clipping mixed in with some of my files as I was going through them recently.  Haas published a collection of his "Poet's Choice" essays in 2

Sylvia Plath Collections: A Missing Letter

Because I had a rare moment of prescience in 2017, I saved all the web material related to Ken Lopez's failed attempt to sell Harriet Rosenstein's archive . Having access to the shoddy inventory proved useful. In fact, it was a source of hours of conversation and speculation with David Trinidad between 2017 and the archives opening at Emory in January 2020. In particular, the folder of Elizabeth Sigmund's papers were of interest. On the day the photographer I hired took pictures of the Sigmund folder , the much dreamed about and discussed files became a reality. That is, until the syncing up problems happened.  This is what Lopez wrote: Elizabeth Compton-Sigmund - large file, including correspondence, notes from over Sylvia’s desk, SP drawing (copies) Original Ted Hughes/Sylvia Plath letter - 7/62, 3 pp. holograph by Ted Hughes, one page holograph by Sylvia Plath copy of a letter from Assia Wevill to Sylvia Plath, 1 pg. re tapestry 2 pp. holograph notes; 3 pp. ALS; I

"let the people...take on the aura...of Cambridge"

On Thursday morning, 20 February 1958, in Northampton, Massachusetts, Sylvia Plath wrote the following in her journals: "let the people: Jane Baltzell (whom I have just written to, come & take my place) and Barry Fudger & Chris Levenson & Ildiko Hayes & Judy Linton & Dan Massey & Ben Nash - let all their names - Gary Haupt - Mallory Wober - John Lythgoe - Keith Middlemass - Luke Meyers - take on the aura, magnetic & radiant, of sacred objects & move solid in the time & space of Cambridge" (334). She was looking forward to the end of her teaching year, toward her "year of writing." She planned to "create people, slimy & funny & noble, & give it a year of my life: the poems also: The Earthenware Head & Falcon Yard " (334). Wait… that previous sentence. Does that mean that Plath had a poem called "Falcon Yard"? She certainly had one called "The Earthenware Head". Curious. (The letter Pla