Sylvia Plath was born on October 27, 1932 in Boston, Massachusetts. She is best known for her dramatic, confessional poetry and her tumultuous life, which was reflected by her work.
From the age of eight, Plath published her first poem in the Boston Herald’s children’s section and was known to keep a journal from the age of eleven. When she was eight years old, Plath’s father, Otto, passed away from complications of diabetes. Her father’s overwhelmingly strict and authoritative nature, as well as his death influenced her future relationships and poetry—especially her sorrowful poem “Daddy.”
After publishing several literature, Plath earned a scholarship to Smith College in 1950. In the summer of 1953, Plath’s excellency in academia landed her the coveted position as a guest editor at Mademoiselle Magazine in New York City. Her experience at Mademoiselle proved to be disappointing. She spent six months in a mental health facility to receive treatment after attempting suicide.
She returned to school to finish her degree and managed to graduate summa cum laude in 1955. After graduation, she moved to Cambridge, England, on a Fulbright Scholarship. She met English poet, Ted Hughes at a party. They married on June 16, 1956.
During one of her darkest times she wrote her most famous book, Ariel, which rose her to fame after her death. In 1963, she published The Bell Jar under her pseudonym, Victoria Lucas. The Bell Jar is a semi-autobiographical novel, which reflects the experience she had working at Mademoiselle. Plath told her mother The Bell Jar was ”an autobiographical apprentice work which I had to write in order to free myself from the past.” Fellow confessional poet, Anne Sexton revealed:
"Sylvia and I would talk at length about our first suicide, in detail and in depth—between the free potato chips. Suicide is, after all, the opposite of the poem. Sylvia and I often talked opposites. We talked death with burned-up intensity, both of us drawn to it like moths to an electric lightbulb, sucking on it. She told the story of her first suicide in sweet and loving detail, and her description in ‘The Bell Jar’ is just that same story."
On February 11, 1963, Plath was found dead at the age of 30 from carbon monoxide poisoning in her kitchen. She placed her head in the oven and turned on the gas. She sealed her children’s room with wet towels and cloths to protect them.
After her death, Hughes became owner of her estate and published three volumes of her work. Much controversy surrounded his inheritance of Plath’s work. He has been accused of burning her last journal, by revealing that, “he did not want her children to have read it.” Plath was the first poet to posthumously earn a Pulitzer Prize.
Sylvia Plath’s life has become as significant as her work. She is credited to be one of the pioneers of confessional poetry. Plath’s poetry holds strong, violent and sharp imagery. Plath’s literature awakened many women in the 1970s with her use of domestic surrealism. She turned details from her everyday life into the nightmare she experienced inside. Her history is ferociously linked with her literature; her life was raw material for her art. It is unjust to separate the two. Plath has become a voice for women who have felt repressed. She has liberated women by abruptly expressing her dissatisfaction with her domestic life. Her courage to be authentic in the most disturbing way makes her the fiercest female author.
«I stopped believing in love when I was 11 years old. At the same time that I first saw my fathers hand go across my mothers face reality did the same to me and I realized none of it was real. I once read a story about a man who loved a blind woman so dearly that he gave one of his own eyes so that she could see. Once the woman could see, she left this man because he was ugly. I keep telling myself that maybe one day I will believe in love yet again. It is because of this that I have ripped myself open to so many people and now there is nothing left. I am completely empty. I have given entirely too much of myself to boys who only touched my body because their body was intoxicated with the thought of fucking my brains out. No one will ever fill me. Here I stand, with gashes leaving every part of me completely open. No matter how many human beings come by and pour themselves into me it will pour right back out. So ask me again why don’t I believe in love. I don’t believe in love because love is not calling you at 3am begging for you to fuck me just because I need to feel something. Love is not my fathers hand across my mothers face. Love is not giving your eye to a charming blind woman and being left because you are undesirable. Love does not exist, people only let themselves believe that because they are entirely lonesome and need to feel the fire of another’s fingertips burning against their skin. Love is none of these things, because love does not exist.»
- I realize that I am bitter, and I plan on keeping it that way (via afwul)
«I think the problem is that I’m stuck waiting for him to do something, to make a move, to say the perfect thing. And the problem is that I shouldn’t be that girl, the one who sits and waits for him. I should be independent. I should think clearly and consistently without having my mind jump straight back to him. Yeah, falling for someone like that is the hardest thing to do. And the stupidest thing is that the thing standing in my way is fear of losing him, the fear of rejection, the fear that I might lose a friend that means everything to me. I want to be everything to him, but I’m not. I’m not the kind of girl he needs, and I’ll never be that girl.»
«I like cancelled plans. And empty bookstores. I like rainy days and thunderstorms. And quiet coffee shops. I like messy beds and over-worn pajamas. Most of all, I like the small joys that a simple life brings.»