Sylvia Plath Life And Works

Sylvia plath is an important topic to be corvered for the students of BA English Semester 3 of BBMKU and VBU University. This note is helpful for exam papers. Important Points in details are covered here.

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Plath’s Early Life

Sylvia Plath is one of the most famous American confessional poets and novelists born in Boston, Massachusetts, on the 27th of October, 1932. Aurelia Schober Plath was her mother, and her father was Otto Plath, an entomologist and a professor of Biology at Boston University. In 1936, the Plath family moved to Johnson Avenue, Winthrop, Massachusetts, from Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. When Sylvia Plath was eight years old, she published her first poem in the Boston herald’s Children’s Section; at that time, she lived with her mother and her maternal grandparents in Winthrop. And the following five years, Plath published many poems in regional magazines and newspapers. She kept a journal at the age of 11. She was an artist also, and for her paintings, she won awards from the “academic Art and Writing Awards in 1947. She had an IQ of around 160.

Sylvia Plath Life And Works
Sylvia Plath Life And Works

In November 1940, Plath’s father, Otto Plath, died. At that time, she was only eight years old. Sylvia lost faith in God after her father’s death. She wrote a poem, ‘Electra on Azalea Plath,’ after visiting her father’s grave. Otto Plath was buried in Winthrop Cemetery. After the death of Otto Plath in 1942, the Plath family moved toward Wellesley, Massachusetts.

Plath’s Education And Career

Sylvia plath went to Bradford Senior High School, now known as Wellesley High School, in Wellesley. She graduated in 1950 and after graduation she had a national publication for the first time in her life in the Christian Science Monitor.

In 1950, Sylvia went to Smith College. It was a private Women’s liberal art college in Massachusetts. It was Plath’s third year of graduation when she got a coveted position as a guest editor at Mademoiselle magazine. she was also a member of the Phi Beta Kappa academic honor society. Moreover, she got Fulbright Scholarship for study at Newnham College, the University of Cambridge in England. In this college, she continued writing poetry and published her works in the student newspaper, Varsity. She had visited Europe too.

Plath’s Depression Era

Doyal Thomas was a writer whom Sylvia loved. She had tried many times to meet him, but when she failed, she slashed her legs to see if she had enough courage to kill herself.
Sylvia was depressed in her life, and she had attempted many times to commit suicide. Her first suicidal attempt was on August 24, 1953, when she had taken her mother’s sleeping pills, but she survived somehow. The following six months, Sylvia had to spend under the care of a psychiatrist, and she received more and more electric and insulin shock treatment.

Plath’s Married Life

Sylvia married Ted Hughes on June 16, 1956, in London. Ted Hughes was a poet like Sylvia, whom she met on February 25, 1956. They spent their honeymoon in Paris and Benidorm. The couple went to the United States in 1957, and there Sylvia started teaching at Smith College. It was difficult for her to manage teaching and writing, so in 1958, they went to Boston. Sylvia got a job as a receptionist in the psychiatric department of Massachusetts General Hospital. And the evening time, she spent on creative writing seminars given by the popular poet Robert Lowell. Sylvia started writing from her own experience. She openly wrote about her depression and suicide attempts.

The couple had visited Canada and the United States. Sylvia Plath admitted that she had learned ”to be true to my weirdness”. In December 1959, Sylvia and Ted went back to England. They had a daughter Frieda, born on April 1, 1960. And in the same year, on October 1960, she published her first poetry collection, ‘The Colossus’. She had written a semi-autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar, which was completed on August 1961.

It is said when Sylvia was second time pregnant, she had to face a miscarriage. A fact came to know from the latter Sylvia to the therapist that Plath’s husband Hughes had beaten her two days after the miscarriage. Hughes had an attraction to the other girl, Assia. Sylvia Plath faced a car accident in 1962, which is described as another suicidal attempt. In 1962 Sylvia found that her husband had an affair with Assia Wevill, so they separated in September 1962.

Plath’s Death

On February 11, 1963, Sylvia Plath was found dead at her home. Her head was in the oven. May be it was a suicide. At that time, she was only 30 years old.

Plath’s Works

Sylvia had started writing poems at the age of eight. Her most popular works are: Mirror, Daddy, The Bell jar etc. Her other works are written bellow:

  • Letters Home: Correspondence 19501963
  • The Magic Mirror
  • The Journals of Sylvia Plath
  • The Bell Jar

Path’s Poetry collections:

  • The Colossus and Other Poems 1960
  • Ariel, 1965
  • Three Women: A Monologue for Three Voices, 1968
  • Crossing the Water, 1971
  • Winter Trees, 1971

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