Sunday, October 30, 2011

Thinking about Sylvia Plath a Few Days after her Birthday...

Sylvia Plath has been on my mind.

She was born October 27, 1932 (she died at age 30, February 11, 1963).  So while playing around on Google, I found this--

Which led me to this Indiana University paper: "They Had to Call and Call": The Search for Sylvia Plath Peter K. Steinberg

As I read the paper, here are a few things that stood out to me--

Anne Stevenson suggests: "Almost every writer I know has severe depression...It's when you know you're not fulfilling yourself, when you know you're letting yourself down. To be an artist, you have to grant a certain authority to yourself'" (qtd. in Malcolm 107).

Plath chose to attempt suicide while her mother watched A Queen is Crowned at the Exeter Street Theatre in Boston the afternoon of August 24, 1953.6 She took a bottle of sleeping pills, filled the Friday before, along with a glass of water and a blanket into the basement. 

(Note from Kelli:  This was what we know as her first attempt at suicide as a 20 year old at Wellesley)

In October 1962, after completing The Bell Jar, Plath stated in an interview: "I believe that one should be able to control and manipulate experiences, even the most terrifying, like madness ... I think that personal experience is very important" (Orr 169)


What I loved about this paper was the first page, the author took many of the headlines for the missing 20-year-old Plath. It's a beautiful remember about old newspapers and their different fonts.  I also learned that the Boy Scouts and a bloodhound helped search for the young Sylvia Plath.

For me, the surprise in all of this, was how reported her first suicide attempt was, though we didn't know her as we do now.  


  1. Just FYI ... Steinberg runs a blog devoted to Sylvia Plath:


  2. Truly a tragedy. I wrote this tribute to Sylvia Plath: Curse you, Sylvia Plath


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