American poet Sylvia Plath (1932-1963) was born in Boston, MA. Her father, Otto, died when she was eight. He had been strict with her, and both his authoritarian attitudes and his death drastically defined her relationships and her poems—most notably in her elegiac poem, “Daddy.”
After graduating from college in 1955, Sylvia moved to Cambridge, England, on a Fulbright Scholarship. In early 1956, she met the English poet, Ted Hughes and was married to him shortly thereafter.
Plath returned to MA in 1957, and began studying with Robert Lowell. Her first collection of poems, Colossus, was published in 1960 in England, and two years later in the USA. She returned to England where she gave birth to the couple’s two children in 1960 and 1962.
In 1962, Ted Hughes left Plath for another woman. That winter, in a deep depression, Plath wrote most of the poems that would comprise her most famous book, Ariel.
In 1963, Sylvia published a semi-autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar, under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. Then, on February 11, 1963, during one of the worst English winters on record, Plath committed suicide using her gas oven.
Plath’s poetry is often associated with the Confessional movement and is singled out for the intense coupling of its violent or disturbed imagery and its playful use of alliteration and rhyme.
The Collected Poems, published posthumously, was the recipient of the 1982 Pulitzer Prize. She was the first poet to win a Pulitzer Prize after death.
In the following videos, Sylvia recites three of her poems, which are amongst my favourites: Daddy, Fever 103, and Lady Lazarus.
And …. Sylvia Plath: the Tormented Poet
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