Described by Joyce Carol Oates as ‘one of the most celebrated and controversial of postwar poets writing in English’, American writer Sylvia Plath is one of the most widely recognised, culturally significant and influential voices of the twentieth century. Her work drew heavily on her own life, in particular her troubled marriage to the poet Ted Hughes, her experiences with depression and attempted suicide and her struggles to have her work recognised as a woman writer in the climate of the late 1950's and early 1960's.
Fiction and poetry by Sylvia Plath
Autobiographical works and notable biographies
Sylvia Plath Biography
Born in 1932 in Boston, Massachusetts, Sylvia Plath had already published poems in regional journals and newspapers before leaving school. After graduating from Smith College, Plath moved to Cambridge, England on a Fulbright scholarship where she met and married Ted Hughes. Plath’s first collection of poetry, The Colossus, was first published in 1960. In 1962, after her separation from Hughes, Plath wrote and published her most famous poetry collection, Ariel. Her only novel, The Bell Jar, was published in 1963, a month before Plath took her own life at the age of 30. After her death, Hughes went on to published three further volumes of Plath’s unpublished verse including including The Collected Poems, which was the recipient of the 1982 Pulitzer Prize, making Plath the first poet to posthumously win the award.
Critics have compared Plath’s work to that of other American so-called ‘confessional’ poets including Anne Sexton and Robert Lowell and her life and work have made her a major cult figure for writers and readers alike. There have been various – often contested and contradictory – biographies of Plath since her death as well as much of her own autobiographical work including two volumes of her letters (the third volume is published in September 2018) and her journals.