Sylvia Plath (1932 – 1963) was a talented poet who seemed to have a happy family and a flourishing career, but she was actually struggling with the depression that led to her suicide at the age of thirty. As most of her works were published after her untimely death, she could not enjoy the admiration of her readers. However, Plath deserves her place in the American literary canon.
Her First Poem
One week after her eighth birthday, her father died and in the same year, she published her first poem in the children’s section of the Boston Herald.
When Sylvia Plath initially enrolled at Smith College, her first choice was studio art, but her teachers encouraged her to choose English as her major because of her undeniable talent.
Plath’s Experience as an Editor
In 1950, Plath began school at Smith College, and in the summer after her third year of college, she was given an editorial position at “Mademoiselle” magazine, spending a month in New York. Her New York experiences later became an episode of her novel “The Bell Jar” (1963), published under a pseudonym. The experience was unpleasant, and Plath had her first suicide attempt in 1953. She went home and took her mother’s sleeping pills. Fortunately, she survived this first suicide attempt.
Marriage to Ted Hughes
Plath first met the poet Ted Hughes on February 25, 1956, at a party in Cambridge, England. The couple married on June 16, 1956, and spent their honeymoon in Spain.
The Poet’s Death
In 1963, Plath committed suicide by gassing herself in the kitchen. Her suicide note simply said “Please call Dr. Horder” – along with the doctor’s phone number. Was it maybe a cry for help?
Most of her poetry was published posthumously, so in 1965, Hughes released the volume “Ariel”, a collection of poems that Plath wrote expressing her struggle with depression and the difficulties of their relationship.