Skip to main content
Create interactive lessons using any digital content including wikis with our free sister product
. Get it on the
Pages and Files
All Things Sylvia (Resources)
Her Life on a Line (Timeline)
Life in the 50's (Time Period)
Moving Pictures (Videos)
Stills of Sylvia (Photos)
Sylvia's Craft (Several Works)
The Tragic Tale (Brief Bio.)
Add "All Pages"
The Tragic Tale (Brief Bio.)
A short account on the life and death of Sylvia Plath:
Sylvia Plath was a famous American poet, known for her rather dim and dark works including, "Daddy," "Lady Lazarus," and "Ariel" among many others. She was born to middle class parents in Massachusetts on October 27, 1932, and discovered her affinity for writing at a very early age, having published her first poem by the age of eight. Come her entrance to Smith College on a scholarship in 1950, she had already accumulated an impressive collection of publications, and proceeded to write over four hundred poems while there.
Driven by a desire for knowledge and perfection, she compelled toward excelling in everything she attempted. On the surface, she truly appeared to be the model daughter, progressing toward excellence, deeply focusing on her studies, achieving popularity in school, garnering straight A's, and winning the best prizes. However, this surface perfection was a facade, glossing over the uncertainty that dwelt be beneath. Her father's death (a college professor and bee enthusiast) when she was eight undoubtedly gave way to some of her personal discontinuities, many of which are reflected in her poetry. Having returned from a visit to New York where she had stayed as a student "guest editor" for Mademoiselle Magazine during the summer following her junior year at Smith, Sylvia nearly killed herself by swallowing sleeping pills. Following a period of recuperation through she returned to her track of academic success, and focused on her writing. Her autobiographical novel,
The Bell Jar
, published in 1963, describes the experience. progressing onward to her eventual graduation from Smith with summa cum laude (title of achievement) in 1995. She also won the Fulbright Scholarship to study abroad at Cambridge, England, where she would meet her husband.
Sylvia married the fellow poet, Ted Hughes in 1956 and went on to write her first book,
, in 1960. The poems composing the work demonstrate the devotion Sylvia placed on her apprenticeship, a foresight to the poems she would begin to write early in 1961. With the marriage dawned a short period of happiness, although two years after the birth of their first child, Frieda Rebecca, the marriage would break apart on account of an affair Ted was having with another woman.
As the winter of 1962-63, one of
the coldest in centuries struck, Sylvia found herself living in a small London flat, now with two children, ill and struggling to make a living. Despite the festering difficulty and ongoing struggle, Sylvia's need to write only seemed to increase, often working from in the dark hours of the night while the children slept (she suffered from insomnia), sometimes finishing a poem in a day. As the chill of the winter only drew crueler and added to her descending depression, Sylvia's poetry evolved to a new depth. Those months spent in her flat raising two infants, left without a telephone, and accompanied only by poor health and stinging depression defined the final period of her life.
On February 11, 1963, Sylvia Plath killed herself by gas inhalation at the age of 30. Two years following her death, a collection of some of her last poems, named
was published, followed by the poems "Crossing the Water," and "Winter Trees" in 1971.
The Collected Poems
, edited and introduced by Ted Hughes appeared. The book contained poems written by Sylvia from 1956 until her untimely death, and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry, making her the first poet to receive the prize posthumously. In the quarter century following her suicide Sylvia Plath became venerated as a heroine and martyr of the feminist movement, and her work also gained her a standing as a leader of the confessional poetry literary movement.
In 2012, the United States Postal Service will introduce a postage stamp featuring Sylvia Plath.
help on how to format text
Turn off "Getting Started"