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Home / Books / Remembering Sylvia Plath: Here’s all you need to know about the riveting writer of Bell Jar and other works

Remembering Sylvia Plath: Here’s all you need to know about the riveting writer of Bell Jar and other works

The American poet, novelist and short-story writer is best known for her published collections The Colossus and Other Poems, Ariel and The Bell Jar.

books Updated: Feb 11, 2020 13:11 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Delhi
Here’s all you need to know about the riveting writer of Bell Jar and other works.
Here’s all you need to know about the riveting writer of Bell Jar and other works.(File Photo)

On August 24, 1953, Sylvia Plath, one of the most celebrated poets of the 20th Century, overdosed on pills but survived. She drove her car off the road into a river on June 1962 but survived again.

On February 11, 1963, a nurse who helped Plath take care of her children, could not get into the flat and upon eventual entry found her dead of carbon monoxide poisoning.

The renowned poet and author had placed her own head in the oven with the gas turned on, having sealed the rooms between her and her sleeping children. She was 30 years old.

Born on October 27, 1932, the American poet, novelist and short-story writer is best known for her published collections The Colossus and Other Poems, Ariel and The Bell Jar.

She is credited with advancing the genre of confessional poetry.

Here are some of the beautiful lines written by the gifted writer: 

“If you expect nothing from somebody you are never disappointed.”

“I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.”

“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”

“Kiss me, and you will see how important I am.”

“We should meet in another life, we should meet in air, me and you.”

 

A few facts about Sylvia Plath

-- She published her first poem in the Boston Herald’s children’s section when she was eight years old and at age 11 started keeping a journal. By the time Plath enrolled in Smith College, she had already written over 50 short stories.

-- Her father died when she was eight. His death deeply impacted Plath, leading to many memorable verses, including Daddy.

-- Plath originally majored in studio art before switching to English. After her third year of college, she became a guest editor at Mademoiselle magazine.

-- She was a huge fan of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas and unfruitfully hung around the White Horse Tavern and the Chelsea Hotel for two days, hoping to meet him. This was followed by perhaps her first attempt at suicide when she slashed her legs. She had to later undergo therapy for depression and tried to kill herself by overdosing on sleeping pills.

-- Sylvia Plath met Ted Hughes on February 25, 1956, and got married to him on June 16. They had their honeymoon in Paris and both became interested in astrology and the supernatural.

-- On April 1, 1960, she gave birth to their first child, a daughter Freida and in October, published her first collection of poetry, The Colossus. However, her second pregnancy ended in miscarriage in February 1961, with Plath writing to her therapist that she had been beaten up by Hughes two days before the miscarriage. On January 1962, she gave birth to her son Nicholas.

-- Plath finished her semi-autobiographical novel The Bell Jar, while she was still married to Hughes. The novel was published under the pen name Victoria Lucas. It was only three years after her death that the book was republished in the UK under her original name.

-- She wrote at least 26 of her most creative poems a few months before her suicide, published posthumously in her collection Ariel.

-- She had discovered that Hughes had been having an affair with Assia Wevill and separated from him. She rented a flat at 23 Fitzroy Road, London, that was once inhabited by the poet William Butler Yeats.

-- Plath’s gravestone bears the inscription “Even amidst fierce flames the golden lotus can be planted.” The epitaph was chosen by Hughes.

-- Freida Hughes, the daughter of Plath and Hughes, is a writer and an artist. Nicholas, their son, hanged himself in 2009 after a history of fighting depression.

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