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Sylvia Plath


Sylvia Plath is best-known as a poet and as the wife of English poet, Ted Hughes, but she also wrote an interesting novel. She was born in Boston in 1932. Her father, an immigrant from Poland, was a professor of zoology and of German. He died when Plath was eight. Her mother had been a teacher but her husband insisted she gave up her job when they married. Plath attended Smith College and, in her junior year, she won a five hundred dollar prize for fiction from Mademoiselle and spent the next summer on an internship in New York for the magazine, the basis for her novel The Bell Jar. When she returned home and found that she had not won a place at the Harvard short-story writing course, she became depressed and she went to a psychiatrist who gave her electric shock treatment. The treatment made her more depressed and she attempted suicide and was admitted to hospital. With the help of a woman psychiatrist, she made a recovery and returned to college. She won a Fulbright scholarship and went to Cambridge University.

In Cambridge she met Ted Hughes. They later married. The couple moved to the United States, where Plath taught at Smith College. When Plath became pregnant, the couple returned to Britain. Plath published her first collection of poems and her first child was born. However, when she became pregnant again later that year, she had a miscarriage. The following year her second child was born and she finished The Bell Jar, which was published in 1963. However, she found out that Hughes was having an affair and the couple separated. A month after The Bell Jar was published, she killed herself by putting her head in a gas oven. It has been suggested that she intended to be found. Hughes’ lover, Assia Wevill, later killed herself in the same way. While she will be best remembered for the poetry, her one novel is certainly not the potboiler she said it was but an important novel about mental illness and feminism.

Books about Sylvia Plath

Paul Alexander: Rough Magic: A Biography of Sylvia Plath
Tracy Brain: The Other Sylvia Plath
Edward Butscher: Sylvia Plath: Method and Madness: A Biography
Ronald Hayman: The Death and Life of Sylvia Plath
Janet Malcolm: The Silent Woman: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes
Diane Middlebrook: Her Husband: Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath – A Marriage
Anne Stevenson: Bitter Fame: A Life of Sylvia Plath
Linda Wagner-Martin: Sylvia Plath: A Biography

Other links

Sylvia Plath
Sylvia Plath
Sylvia Plath
Sylvia Plath
Sylvia Plath
Sylvia Plath
A Celebration This Is (all about Plath)
Sylvia Plath Forum
A Sylvia Plath blog
Sylvia Plath (1932-1963)
Sylvia Plath (1932-1963)
Sylvia Plath – Poet, Author
More on Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath
Plath in Devon
Two Views of Plath’s Life and Career
The real Sylvia Plath
Plath, Sylvia: Annotated Works
Sylvia Plath’s Library
Sylvia Plath – Online Essays and Papers
This is a Celebration: A Festschrift for The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
Plath’s grave
The Willing Domesticity of Sylvia Plath: A Rebuttal of the”Feminist” Label


1960 A Winter Ship (poetry)
1960 The Colossus and Other Poems (poetry)
1963 The Bell Jar (novel)
1965 Uncollected Poems (poetry)
1965 Ariel (poetry)
1968 Three Women: A monologue for three voices (poetry)
1970 Wreath for a Bridal (poetry)
1970 Among the Narcissi (poetry)
1971 Crossing the Water (poetry)
1971 Brasilia (poetry)
1971 Crystal Gazer and Other Poems (poetry)
1971 Lyonnesse: Poems (poetry)
1971 Million Dollar Month (poetry)
1972 Winter Trees (poetry)
1975 Letters Home
1976 The Bed Book (children’s)
1977 Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams
1981 The Collected Poems (poetry)
1982 The Journals of Sylvia Plath
1985 Selected Poems (poetry)
1989 The Magic Mirror (college thesis)
1996 The It-Doesn’t-Matter-Suit (children’s)
1998 Plath: Poems (poetry)
2000 The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
2001 Collected Children’s Stories (children’s)
2001 Mrs. Cherry’s Kitchen (children’s)
2004 Ariel: The Restored Edition (poetry)
2017 The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Volume 1
2018 The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Volume 2