Sylvia Plath was born October 2, 1932 in Boston, Massachusetts – Deceased February 11, 1963.
Sylvia’s life was short, but full. Sylvia suffered from depression almost all her life. Her mother was aware of Sylvia’s mental illness, and protected her as best she could.
Plath began writing at an early age when her gift merged and became an art. Although she was a troubled poet, known for her “confessional style” of writing. As a young girl Sylvia kept journals of her work and began publishing her poetry in the late 1940s. Winning a scholarship to Smith College in 1950, she studied and honed her writing skills. She finished her education and moved to New York City where she took a position working at Mademoiselle Magazine as a guest editor.
Her first attempt at suicide was when she took an overdose of sleeping pills her mother had kept locked away. She was quite determined, but unsuccessful. She had swallowed a handful of pills, but not quite enough to finish the job. She crawled under the porch of her mother’s house and went to sleep. Thinking her time was coming to a close she snuggled under the porch and slept. Awakening from vomiting caused by the pills, she stumbled out of hiding and was quickly given care at an institution where she spent the next 6-months in treatment, including electric shock treatments. She later identified the sanitarium experience as something she would never want to repeat.
A Fulbright Fellowship moved Sylvia to Cambridge University in England. Receiving the Fulbright Award her career opened, and although her life was short, she was an accomplished writer and poet. It was in England that Sylvia met her husband Ted Hughes. It was love at first sight, although a tumultuous relationship to the end. They married in 1956, and in 1957 Sylvia studied with Robert Lowell and a fellow poet and student Ann Sexton. Sylvia taught English at Smith College, returning to England in 1959.
Publishing her first collection of poetry, The Colossus, in 1960, Sylvia gave birth to their first child, Freida. Just two years later, Sylvia gave birth to their second child, Nicholas. It was at this time she noted her marriage was failing terribly and with two young children, still suffering depression, she continued to write. After discovering, her husband Ted Hughes had been unfaithful to her Sylvia ended the marriage. It was in 1963 she published her novel, The Bell Jar. The Bell Jar was a book based on her life, a young woman’s mental breakdown. She published this novel under her nom de plume Victoria Lucas.
Even though her depression had taken a severe downturn, Sylvia managed to complete another poetry collection she titled Ariel. Ariel was not published until 1965, two years after her suicide.
After Sylvia’s death, Ted Hughes became her literary executor and began to edit her works and continued to publish her poetry. It was in 1982 that Sylvia Plath won the Pulitzer Prize for her Collected Poems. Although there was question as to the manner in which Ted Hughes managed her legacy, he did keep her work alive and is still recognized as a tremendously successful poet of her time.
Sylvia Plath committed suicide on February 11, 1963.
Not able to present any of her poetry or quotations as her work is still under the copyright laws. Not free to publicize for the first 100 years after publication.