Sylvia Plath was an American poet, novelist, and short story writer. Credited with advancing the genre of Confessionalism, she is best known for two of her published collections, The Colossus and Other Poems and Ariel, and The Bell Jar, a semi-autobiographical novel published shortly before her death. Check out some chilling facts about her tragic life and death.
1.She was born on October 27, 1932.
2. She was born in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood.
3. She studied at Smith College and Newnham College at the University of Cambridge before receiving acclaim as a poet and writer.
4. She married fellow poet Ted Hughes in 1956.
5. Τhey lived together in the United States and then in England.
6. They had two children, Frieda and Nicholas, before separating in 1962.
7. She was clinically depressed for most of her adult life.
8. She was treated multiple times with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).
9. Plath ended her life in 1963.
10. Plath is credited with advancing the genre of Confessionalism and is best known for two of her published collections, The Colossus and Other Poems and Ariel, and The Bell Jar, a semi-autobiographical novel published shortly before her death.
11. In 1982, she won a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for The Collected Poems.
12. Her father, Otto Plath, died on November 5, 1940, a week and a half after Plath’s eighth birthday, due to complications following the amputation of a foot due to untreated diabetes.
13. Following electroconvulsive therapy for depression, Plath made her first medically documented suicide attempt in late August 1953 by crawling under her house and taking her mother’s sleeping pills.
14. She survived this first suicide attempt after lying unfound in a crawl space for three days, later writing that she “blissfully succumbed to the whirling blackness that I honestly believed was eternal oblivion”.
15. She spent the next six months in psychiatric care, receiving more electric and insulin shock treatment under the care of Dr. Ruth Beuscher.
16. After recovering from that, she returned to college In January 1955, she submitted her thesis, The Magic Mirror: A Study of the Double in Two of Dostoyevsky’s Novels, and in June graduated from Smith with highest honors.
17. Plath first met her husband, poet Ted Hughes on February 25, 1956, at a party in Cambridge.
18. Plath described Hughes as “a singer, story-teller, lion and world-wanderer” with “a voice like the thunder of God”.
19. On August 24, 1953, she overdosed on pills in the cellar of her mother’s home.
20. In June 1962, Plath drove her car off the side of the road, into a river. When questioned about the incident by police, she admitted to trying to take her own life.
21. She struggled with insomnia, taking medication at night to induce sleep, and frequently woke up early. By that time, she lost 20 pounds.
22. Her close frend and psychiatrist Dr. John Horder arranged for a live-in nurse to help take care of her children.
23. The nurse was due to arrive at 9:00 the morning of February 11, 1963, but couldn’t get in so she got help from a worker named Charles Langridge.
24. She walked in to find Plath dead from carbon monoxide poisoning with her head in the oven.
25. More specifically, at approximately 4:30 am, Plath had placed her head in the oven, with the gas turned on. She was 30 years old.
26. She had sealed the rooms between her and her sleeping children with tape, towels and cloths.
27. Plath’s gravestone, in Heptonstall’s parish churchyard of St Thomas the Apostle, bears the inscription that Hughes chose for her: “Even amidst fierce flames the golden lotus can be planted.” which is a reference to the Hindu text Bhagavad Gita.
29. The gravestone has been repeatedly vandalized by those aggrieved that “Hughes” is written on the stone; they have attempted to chisel it off, leaving only the name “Sylvia Plath.
30. According to newly found letters, Sylvia Plath alleged Ted Hughes beat her two days before she miscarried their second child and that Hughes wanted her dead.
31. Hughes’ mistress Assia Wevill killed herself and their four-year-old daughter Shura in 1969.
32. Written between 18 February 1960 and 4 February 1963, a week before her death, the letters cover a period in Plath’s life that has remained elusive to readers and scholars alike.
33. Nine letters written after Plath discovered her husband’s infidelity with their friend Assia Wevill in July 1962, form the core of the collection.
34. Also included in the collection are medical records from 1954, correspondence with Plath’s friends and interviews with Barnhouse about her therapy sessions with the poet.
35. The archive came to light after an antiquarian bookseller put it up for sale for $875,000 (£695,000).