Sylvia Plath, 1932-1963

  • Sylvia-Plath-WWP

Woman Category: Literature & PoetryWoman Tags: Greater Boston Women, Poet, and Pulitzer Prize

  • HerStory

    Pulitzer Prize winning poet.

    Boston-born Sylvia published her first poem at the age of nine. She continued her studies at Smith College on scholarship, publishing her poetry in magazines and winning awards. She later received a grant to study at Cambridge University in England. There she met her future husband, poet Ted Hughes.
    At the age of 30, in her London home, Plath killed herself by resting her head in the oven and inhaling the gas. She left milk and bread for her two children, who were sleeping upstairs.
    Her greatness as a poet was acknowledged mainly after her death: with her second collection of poetry selling more than 500,000 copies, and her novel more than 1 million copies. In 1982, Plath became the first poet to win a Pulitzer Prize posthumously.

    “I could never be a complete scholar or a complete housewife or a complete writer: I must combine a little of all, and thereby be imperfect in all”

    “I could never be a complete scholar or a complete housewife or a complete writer: I must combine a little of all, and thereby be imperfect in all”


    More Interesting Anecdotes:

    • Her writing focused on her struggles with depression and included critical thoughts on society. In her poem “The Applicant”, for example, she portrays marriage as a sales pitch.
    • She was also a visual artist. In 2017 Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery hosted an exhibition of her works.
    • During her studies, she spent one month in New York City as a guest editor of Mademoiselle Magazine. The experience has inspired her semi-autobiographical novel “The Bell Jar”.
    • Her suicide note had four words: “Please call Dr. Horder”.
  • More About Her Legacy
    Creations By and About Her:

    * Books she wrote


    * Pulitzer Prize (1982)

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  • One of Her Landmarks

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  • Sylvia Plath reading her poems 1958

    Sylvia Plath, reading her poems in Springfield, MA on April, 18 1958

    Sylvia Plath (October 27, 1932 – February 11, 1963) was an American poet, novelist, and short-story writer. Born in Boston, she studied at Smith College and Newnham College at the University of Cambridge before receiving acclaim as a poet and writer. She married fellow poet Ted Hughes in 1956, and they lived together in the United States and then in England. They had two children, Frieda and Nicholas, before separating in 1962. Plath was clinically depressed for most of her adult life, and was treated multiple times with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). She took her own life in 1963.

    Plath is credited with advancing the genre of confessional poetry 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. In 1982, she won a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for The Collected Poems.

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  • Photo of Plath in July 1961. Photo credit - Wikipedia.