Plath, Sylvia, 1932-1963

Alternative names
Birth 1932-10-27
Death 1963-02-11

Biographical notes:

Plath (1932-1963) was educated at Smith College (A.B., 1955) and Newnham College, Cambridge University (A.B., 1957). She married Ted Hughes in 1956 and taught English at Smith College, 1957-1958. Plath and Hughes returned to England in Dec. 1959 and separated in 1962. In her lifetime she published two books: The Colossus and other poems (1960) and The bell jar (1963). On Feb. 11, 1963 she committed suicide in London. Her Ariel poems were edited by Hughes and published in 1965.

From the description of Sylvia Plath collection, 1940-1981. (Smith College). WorldCat record id: 53825112

Plath was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and began writing poetry as a child. She entered Smith College in 1950 and, after an abortive suicide attempt in August of 1953, graduated in 1955. She then attended Newnham College in Cambridge for two years on a Fulbright Fellowship where late in her first year she met and shortly thereafter married poet Ted Hughes. Plath took her degree in June 1957, after which she and Hughes sailed to America for a year of teaching and a second year of writing and travel. In late 1959 they returned to England where Plath lived until her death in February 1963.

From the guide to the Plath mss. II, 1932-1977, (Lilly Library (Indiana University, Bloomington))

From the guide to the Plath mss., 1958-1961, (Lilly Library (Indiana University, Bloomington))

American poet.

From the description of Fairy wonders : autograph poem signed : place not specified, 1943 June. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 698697685

From the description of Autograph poem : place not specified, ca. 1946. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 698703920

From the description of A Hallowe'en ditty : autograph poem : place not specified, 1944 Oct. 18. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 698706858

From the description of Autograph poems : place not specified, ca. 1940-1945. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 698694797

From the description of Collection of autograph poems : place not specified, ca. 1940-1946. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 698480433

From the description of Autograph poems : place not specified, ca. 1940. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 698749547

From the description of Autograph poems : place not specified, ca. 1945-1946. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270617631

Sylvia Plath was an American poet.

From the description of Sickroom tulips : poems, 1961. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 78504026

From the guide to the Sylvia Plath papers for, Sickroom Tulips, 1961., (Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University)


From the description of Papers, 1944-1945. (Indiana University). WorldCat record id: 436464184

Plath was a Smith College graduate, Class of 1955. She was an instructor in the English Dept., 1957/1958.

From the description of Sylvia Plath Hughes papers, 1955-[ongoing]. (Smith College). WorldCat record id: 52636344

Sylvia Plath was born in Boston Massachusetts to Aurelia and Otto Plath on October 27, 1932. A talented writer, her first poem was published in the Boston Sunday Herald when she was eight years old. In 1940 her father, a professor of Biology at Boston University died after a long illness, and Plath never fully recovered from this loss. Plath lived in Wellesley, and graduated from Bradford Senior High School, and received the Olive Higgins Prouty Scholarship at Smith College, which she attended from 1950-55.

While at Smith, Plath was very active in many organizations while excelling academically and being named a first group scholar each semester. She was the Press Board Correspondent for the D aily Hampshire Gazette and the Springfield Daily News, and she was also editor of the Smith Review, the college literary magazine. She was also on the editorial board of the Campus Cat, a college humor magazine, as well as secretary of the honor board, a member of Alpha Phi- Kappa Psi, and Phi Beta Kappa. Additionally, Plath taught art at the People's Institute in Northampton and served on the sophomore PUSH committee. In her sophomore year she had several poems published by Harper's Magazine, won two Smith College Prize Awards for Poetry, and she also had several short stories and poems published in Seventeen Magazine . During the summer of 1953, Plath was named one of 20 guest editors of Mademoiselle Magazine . However, in August of that year, Plath attempted to kill herself by overdosing on sleeping pills. She spent the next six months in McLean Hospital.

During the summer of 1954, Plath received a full scholarship to study German at the Harvard Summer School, before returning to Smith that fall for her senior year. After graduating Summa Cum Laude from Smith in June of 1955, she received a Fulbright Fellowship to study in Cambridge. While she was there, she met Ted Hughes. They were married on December 7, 1956, in London. From 1957-58, Plath returned to the United States to be an instructor in English Language and Literature at Smith College, however, although she enjoyed teaching, she found no time to spend on her writing, and so she gave up teaching and settled permanently in England in 1959. In 1960, Plath published her first book of poetry, The Colossus, and in April of that year, bore her first child, Frieda. Two years later, in 1962, her son Nicholas was born. However, Plath's marriage was falling apart, and Hughes eventually left her for another woman. In January of 1963, she published a novel, The Bell Jar, under the pen name, Victoria Lucas. (Although published in England in 1963, it was not published in America until 1971.) A month later, on February 11, 1963 Plath committed suicide. She was 30 years old. A second book of poetry, Ariel, written in the last few months of her life, was published after her death.

From the guide to the Sylvia Plath Hughes Papers RG 42., 1950-2001, 1952-1963, (Smith College Archives)


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  • Insomnia--Poetry
  • Poets, American--20th century--Biography--Sources
  • Fiction
  • Poetry
  • American poetry--20th century
  • Poets, American--20th century--Correspondence
  • Children's art


  • Novelists
  • Poets


  • United States, 00, US
  • London, ENG, GB
  • Boston, MA, US