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Some final photographs of Sylvia Plath

Susan O'Neill-Roe took a series of photographs of Sylvia Plath and her children from October to late November (or maybe early December) 1962 while she was a day nanny/mother's help at Court Green. From nearby Belstone, it was a short drive to North Tawton and the aid she provided enabled Plath to complete the masterful October and November poems and also to make day or overnight trips to London for poetry business and other business. 

Some of O'Neill-Roe's photographs are well-known. 

However, a cache of photographs formed a part of the papers of failed biographer Harriet Rosenstein. They were sold separately from the rest of her papers that went to Emory. I was fortunate enough to see low resolution scans of them a while back so please note these are being posted today as mere reference quality images. 

There are two series here. The first of the children with Plath dressed in red and black. (This should be referred to in the future, please, as Plath's Stendhal-chic phase.)




And a second series is of Plath in a camel colored suit: her dijon mustard it-doesn't-matter suit. Plath referred to this outfit in her 19 November 1962 letter to her mother: "I took Mrs. Prouty’s first check, as she said to, & went to the Jaeger shop in Exeter. It is my shop. I got an absolutely gorgeous camel suit (out of Vogue) & matching camel sweater, a black sweater, . . ." (Letters Volume II, 904).



Yes, Sylvia Plath popped her collar.  I am not a fashionista, but it may be this suit?

The chair depicted in these photographs sold at the Bonhams auction in March 2018 in Lot 348.

There are likely more photographs that belong to the Plath family as Plath mentioned an additional photograph experience in a 21 December 1962 letter: "Frieda & I are having a December picnic in St. Ives, Cornwall!" (Letters Volume II, 939). However, their whereabouts are presently not widely known.


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All links accessed 5 June and 3 July 2022.

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