Sylvia Plath

(1932 - 1963)

Sylvia Plath demonstrated a talent for words when she began speaking at a much earlier age than most children and was writing complete poems by the age of five. Her parents, Otto Plath and Aurelia Schober had met when Otto was the professor for one of Aurelia's courses at Boston University. Aurelia had graduated second in her high school class, was valedictorian of her Boston University undergraduate class, and was a teacher of English and German studying for her master's degree. Otto was a professor of German and Biology (his specialty was bees) who was married, but separated thirteen years, when he met Aurelia.

Sylvia was born on October 27, 1932 in Boston after her parents had married on January 4 of that year. Her younger brother Warren was born a few years later in April of 1935. During the latter half of the 1930's Otto became increasingly ill and was convinced of his self-diagnosis of lung cancer. He refused to seek medical care due to the lack of a cure or effective treatment at that time. In 1940 after suffering ill health for years, Otto was forced to see a doctor for an infection in his foot. The doctor diagnosed the illness Otto had been suffering from as not cancer, but diabetes -- now so advanced that it threatened his life. Otto's leg had to be amputated in October after he developed gangrene, and he spent the rest of his days in the hospital declining rapidly. Otto Plath died on the night of November 5, 1940, and when the eight-year-old Sylvia was informed of her father's death, she proclaimed "I'll never speak to God again."

In 1941 Sylvia's "Poem" was printed in the children's section of the Boston Herald. It was a short poem, "about what I see and hear on hot summer nights," but it was her first publication, at the age of eight. The next year, after the United States' entrance into World War II had darkened the mood of the nation, Sylvia's mother accepted a position at Boston University and the family, including Sylvia's maternal grandparents who now lived with them, moved inland from Winthrop, Massachusetts to Wellesley.

Aurelia re-enrolled Sylvia in the 5th grade in her new school, feeling that studying already-familiar topics and being with children closer to her own age (Sylvia had started school nearly two years early) would help lessen the stress of the recent changes in her life. Sylvia was still confused and angry about her father's death -- she sometimes felt that, in a way, he had committed suicide because he could have prevented his own death. Her strong and conflicting emotions of love, hate, anger and grief at the loss of her father were to affect Sylvia for the rest of her life.

In junior high, she continued to write and would publish her poems and drawings in the school newspaper. In high school she enrolled in the class of a tough English professor who challenged her abilities in the best of ways. In 1949, Plath and another student from the English class co-authored a published response to an article in The Atlantic Monthly titled "A Reasonable Life in a Mad World". The original article stated that modern man must rely on the ability to reason in order to further society. Plath's response argued that, beyond reason, one needed to connect with and embrace inner divinity and spirituality to fully live.

Finishing out her high school career, Plath consistently received good grades and earned recognition and publication as a writer, artist and editor. In her senior year, her story "And Summer Will Not Come Again" was accepted for publication in Seventeen magazine, and she also saw the first national publication of one of her poems when "Bitter Strawberries" appeared in The Christian Science Monitor just after her graduation in 1950 -- where Plath graduated first in her class.

These successes in publication came after much hard work and persistence in submitting her writing to numerous periodicals. Time after time the rejection slips would come -- sometimes causing Plath to begin doubting her abilities and fearing she had lost her talent. She developed a pattern where, throughout her life, stress would often lead to bouts of illness, which would cause depression and more stress, each feeding upon the other to lead her spiralling down. Slowly, though, she would seem to recover -- her successes and achievements helping to buoy her spirit.

In the Fall of 1950 Sylvia entered Smith College in Northhampton, Massachusetts. She continued to build her writing career as she wrote and published in both the college newspaper and in large-circulation magazines like Seventeen, Harper's and The Christian Science Monitor. In 1952 she won Mademoiselle's college fiction contest with her story "Sunday At The Mintons". Throughout college she also dated many boys; the most serious relationship was with Dick Norton, a Wellesley neighbor. However, she also developed periodic bouts of depression, insomnia and also thoughts of suicide, as evidenced in her journals:

"To annihilate the world by annihilation of one's self is the deluded height of desperate egoism. The simple way out of all the little brick dead ends we scratch our nails against.... I want to kill myself, to escape from responsibility, to crawl back abjectly into the womb."

Sylvia spent most of June 1953 as one of twenty "guest editors" with Mademoiselle magazine in New York City. Having earned the position through an application process started the previous Fall, the experiences of this month were to mark a turning point for Plath. On one particular day, she missed an unplanned lunch her editing manager spent with Dylan Thomas. She was so upset over missing this chance to meet Thomas that she became obsessed with attempting to meet him another way. For days she would hang out at his favorite New York taverns and she even spent time waiting in the hallway of his hotel. Another girl described Plath's increasingly strange behavior just before their time in the program ended. Sylvia came into her room one night asking to borrow a dress because, she claimed, she had thrown all of hers off of the roof of the hotel.

At the end of the month, Plath returned to Wellesley. Mademoiselle's August issue featured several articles by and about Plath, and her poem "Mad Girl's Love Song". Despite the seeming success, the month in Manhattan had exhausted and disillusioned Sylvia. The stress of June, and the disappointment of learning that she had not been accepted to a particularly desired course at Harvard Summer School led her to believe she was a disappointment to everyone around her. As time progressed she began to lose the ability to concentrate, to the point where she could not write. She also developed severe insomnia, not sleeping for days at a time.

If I rest, if I think inward, I go mad ~ From Plath's journals ~

One day when her mother noticed healing scars on her legs, Sylvia said she just "wanted to see if I had the guts" and admitted that "I want to die!" She was immediately taken to see a psychiatrist. After several sessions and a diagnosis of severe depression, Plath was prescribed what was thought at that time to be the best therapy for emotional problems: electroshock therapy. Her first session began July 29, and eventually she developed an acute insomnia where she did not sleep for three weeks and became immune to sleeping pills.

On August 24, 1953 Sylvia waited until she was alone in the house, then broke into the family lockbox to steal the sleeping pills that had been locked away. After leaving a note that she had gone for a long walk, she entered a crawl space under the porch through the cellar and swallowed about forty of the pills. When her family discovered her missing, an all-out search was launched, with friends, family and local officials searching as far away as Boston.

By the next morning, the story of Plath's disappearance was in the front pages of several major newspapers. Her mother grew more distraught when she discovered the pried-open lockbox and missing pills. Two days later the story continued to run in the papers, including the information about the missing sleeping pills. Aurelia explained that her daughter had been upset over her inability to write as of late. Sylvia was finally discovered on the 26th after someone heard moaning in the cellar. She was covered in her own vomit and, dazed but alive, was rushed to the hospital in a semi-comatose state.

To aid Sylvia's recovery the writer Olive Higgins Prouty, her sponsor at Smith who had herself suffered a nervous breakdown twenty-five years before, gave both financial and emotional help to the family at this time. When she was physically well enough, Plath was admitted to McClean Hospital's mental institution at Belmont where she worked with a female psychiatrist on her problems. Another round of electroshock treatments just before Christmas seemed to be effective in lifting her ever-present depression. By January she was released from the hospital to resume her studies at Smith.

It was April of 1954 before Plath attempted to write poetry again. She also began bleaching her hair platinum blonde in a proclamation of her "new persona". Many things went well for her during the spring: she was awarded a $1,200 scholarship for the next year at Smith and also one to Harvard Summer School. She won a poetry prize and earned excellent grades yet again. During the summer in Boston at Harvard, however, she had an odd affair with a much older man whom she continued to date even after a frightening incident where she claimed he had raped her and she had nearly bled to death from a hemorrhage. These were only the beginning indications of a dark predilection Plath possessed for abusive men.

During the 1954 - 1955 school year, Sylvia's "Go Get The Goodly Squab" was published in Harper's and her "Parallax" earned an honorable mention in Mademoiselle's "Dylan Thomas Poetry Contest". In February she learned of her acceptance to both Oxford and Cambridge Universities in England and in April tied for first place in the Glascock Poetry Contest along with winning several other poetry prizes. As graduation neared there came heaps of honors and awards, as well as other prizes and publication news. "Circus In Three Rings" was her first poem to finally be published in The Atlantic Monthly. Sylvia Plath graduated summa cum laude in June, with a Fulbright scholarship that would send her to Cambridge to study literature in the fall.

After sailing to England, she spent time in London and at her new college in Cambridge making friends, dating and touring. The stressful schedule she kept eventually caused chronic illnesses and sinus infections she could not seem to avoid. Plath wrote in her journal that she felt most British men were "pallid, neurotic homosexuals" whom she didn't find appealing. Sylvia spent Christmas and New Year's in France and Italy with an old American boyfriend. Though she wanted to intensify their relationship, he now told her he wanted quite the opposite -- and was even seriously dating another woman. It was only too easy for the loss of a serious relationship like this to bring back the memories and pain of the loss of her father, and once again Sylvia fell into depression.

In early 1956 Plath learned that her grandmother in America had stomach cancer, and she herself suffered with insomnia and sinus infections as her writing was rejected from publication after publication while what was published was receiving poor reviews. One night, she attended a party held to celebrate the launch of a new Cambridge literary magazine, St. Botolph's Review. Among the poetry she most admired in it was that of a poet named Ted Hughes. After arriving at the party quite drunk she gazed across the room at a "big, dark hunky boy, the only one... huge enough for me," and wanted to know who he was immediately.

After meeting Hughes in person, she proceeded to quote one of his poems to him. In a side room into which he had guided her, he ripped her hairband and earrings off when she pulled away as he tried to kiss her. Soon after, she bit his cheek when he went to kiss her. Each of them, it seemed, had met their match. Walking back to her college later, a male friend warned her that Ted Hughes was "the biggest seducer in Cambridge."

Ted Hughes had earlier published a poem about a "Jaguar" -- so over the next few days, Plath composed the poem "Pursuit" in which a woman is stalked by a panther. On her way to a spring vacation in Europe, she spent a night with Hughes and his friend in a London flat. The attraction between Sylvia and Ted was even greater at this meeting -- she found Hughes' power and strength irresistible. Sylvia spent even more time with him after she returned and throughout the spring. By the time a couple of months had passed, the two were discussing marriage.

The couple decided to get married, but secretly, so that it would not jeopardize Sylvia's academic career or fellowship grant. So on June 16, 1956 while her mother was visiting, Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes were married in the Church of Saint George the Martyr in London. Sylvia wore a pink suit and held a pink rose which Ted had given her. The newlyweds spent time that summer in Paris, Madrid and finally Benindorm, Spain on the coast, where "every evening at dusk the lights of the sardine boats dip and shine out at sea like floating stars." They spent their days writing, studying, swimming and enjoying the quiet town. Some of the poems Sylvia wrote during this newlywed summer of writing include "Fiesta Melons", "Alicante Lullaby", "The Goring", "The Beggars", "Spider", "Rhyme", "Dream With Clam Diggers", and "Epitaph For Fire And Flower". There was one alleged episode which darkened the otherwise idyllic days of their summer. Years later Sylvia told a friend that one afternoon as they sat on a hill Ted was overcome by such rage that he started choking her, and she resigned herself to die. The episode made her question her somewhat hasty decision to marry him.

In August, after returning to England, the couple travelled north to Yorkshire where Sylvia met her in-laws for the first time. The Hughes family, like Ted himself, was interested in things like horoscopes, hypnosis and the occult. Plath was enthralled by the moors and she continued to write stories, articles, and poems, like "November Graveyard".

There is some mystery over her whereabouts in September 1956. One likely story claims that having become pregnant, yet still believing she needed to keep the marriage secret, she had travelled to the States to have an abortion. A first-year Fulbright student and aspiring poet Sylvia met and became friends with on the ship back to England told of a strange remark Sylvia made one night in London. When he asked her if she would like to go see the new movie War and Peace, her cryptic reply was "Listen, some day I'll marry a poet like you and kill myself."

If neurotic is wanting two mutually exclusive things at one and the same time, then I'm neurotic as hell. I'll be flying back and forth between one mutually exclusive thing and another for the rest of my days. ~ From 'The Bell Jar' ~

By October she was back in Cambridge, not only writing and submitting her own work, but acting as Ted's literary agent as well by submitting his work to both English and American publishers. By now Plath had learned that the marriage was no threat to her fellowship, and so Mr. and Mrs. Ted Hughes lived openly married in Cambridge. Both of them were so into astrology and the occult -- believing they would be just like Mr. and Mrs. W. B. Yeats -- that they created a Ouija board which they came to believe would bring them money by predicting the football results.

In February of 1957 they learned that Ted's book The Hawk In The Rain won a prestigious first-book award and would be published in America. In May, the book was accepted for publication in England as well. Also during May, Sylvia was offered a teaching position at Smith College which she had been encouraged to apply for and accepted immediately. On their first wedding anniversary on June 16, Ted brought a huge vase of pink roses into their room.

The couple arrived in America in late June, where Aurelia held a catered reception to celebrate both their arrival and their marriage. While staying on Cape Cod from July to August, Plath worked on a novel she had begun in Cambridge but experienced only frustration with its slow progress. She started her teaching position at Smith in September but soon found the work to be both tedious and overwhelming. She struggled, not feeling adequate enough for the task. Under the increasing emotional stress, she also lost the desire to write.

Meanwhile, Ted was achieving great successes in his writing and publishing -- with his The Hawk In The Rain receiving critical acclaim all around. For the first time, Sylvia felt jealous of her husband. By the end of the semester, having declined the option to return to teaching the next year, Plath's stress caused yet another illness as she contracted a fever and viral pneumonia before Christmas.

During spring vacation of 1958 Plath broke her writer's block by writing eight poems in eight days. She felt this latest batch of poems was in a different style and represented a break-through. Throughout the spring the number of arguments and friction between her and Ted grew. He felt she was nagging -- she felt he exhibited poor manners. One day near the end of the term Sylvia confronted Ted as she caught him spending time with a young co-ed. Days later they got into a physical fight where Sylvia was hit and Ted ended up with fingernail marks on his face.

After deciding to spend the next year writing, the two found an apartment in Boston during the summer. Plath was elated when, after ten years of trying, her poems "Mussel Hunter at Rock Harbor" and "Nocturne" were accepted by the prestigious and well-paying The New Yorker. During the Fall, Sylvia worked part-time as a secretary in the same psychiatric ward she had been admitted to after her suicide attempt. Having trouble writing and trying to become pregnant made her irritated and depressed, and she began seeing the same female psychiatrist who had helped her after her breakdown.

In early 1959 Ted and Sylvia were featured in a Mademoiselle article about "Four Young Poets". Around this time, Plath decided to try to write in a more "inward" style, looking inside the self and facing the issues found there. For the first time ever, she visited her father's grave along the "Azalea Path" in the Winthrop Cemetery, inspiring her poem "Electra on Azalea Path." Sylvia also enrolled in a writing class taught by Robert Lowell, where she met a young chain smoker named Anne Sexton who used her own shoe for an ashtray.

Ted and Sylvia spent July and August travelling around America. On their drive to visit Sylvia's Aunt Frieda in California they stopped in Michigan, Montana and Utah. In Yellowstone Park the couple was awakened by a bear that broke through their car window and ransacked the food inside. This later inspired Plath's story "The Fifty-ninth Bear" -- in which the bear happens to maul the woman's husband to death. The couple then spent September through November in Yaddo artists' colony in New York where Plath completed her poems "The Manor Garden", "The Stones" and "The Colossus", among others. In December, after Plath's suspicions that she was pregnant were confirmed, she and Ted sailed once again for England.

After staying with Ted's family, Plath and Hughes moved into a tiny flat in London in February 1960. Also during that month, Sylvia signed a contract with the British publisher Heinemann for the publication of her first book of poems: The Colossus and Other Poems. In March Ted's second collection of poems was released and, like the first, received good reviews. Early on the morning of April 1, with the help of a midwife, Sylvia gave birth to a 7 pound 4 ounce baby girl at home. The baby was named Frieda, after Plath's paternal aunt.

The highlight of May was an evening of dining and socializing with T.S. Eliot, his wife, and some friends. Then in June at a cocktail party Ted was compared to the company of Eliot, Auden, Spender and Louis MacNeice. Some of the poems Plath completed during this period include "You're", "The Hanging Man", "Sleep in the Mojave Desert", "On Deck" and "Two Campers in Cloud Country". Yet as her third submitted manuscript in as many years was turned down by the Yale Series of Younger Poets, Sylvia had to wonder why she apparently could not achieve success in publishing in her own country, though her English husband could.

The Colossus was published in October and though the reviews it received were good, there were few of them. In Heptonstall at New Year's, Ted's sister Olwyn fought with Sylvia and she and Ted ended up returning to London several days early. In January of 1961 Plath learned she was pregnant again, and her work on the editing and layout for the children's section of the spring issue of The Bookseller had already inspired her to pick out names. She was therefore devastated when she miscarried on February 2. During February she wrote seven poems: "Parliament Hill Fields", "Whitsun", "Zoo Keeper's Wife", "Face Lift", "Morning Song", "Heavy Women" and "Barren Woman", the last of which was directed at childless women like her sister-in-law Olwyn.

Also in February, Plath was offered a contract with The New Yorker stipulating that she submit all completed poems to them first -- since this was something she did already, she signed with no questions. At the end of the month she underwent surgery to have her appendix removed, and her hospital stay inspired the poem "Tulips". In March she completed "I Am Vertical", and her "Magi" appeared in The New Statesman on the same page as one of Roethke's poems. She also began work on an obviously semi-autobiographical novel about a young college co-ed who suffers a nervous breakdown.

In June Aurelia travelled to London to meet her granddaughter and watch Frieda while Ted and Sylvia took a short holiday to France. Staying until August, Sylvia's mother also met and visited with the Hughes family and helped Ted and Sylvia look for a house in Devon. The London flat was sub-let to a woman named Assia Gutmann and her third husband David Wevill. Just before the move to Devon in September, Sylvia discovered that she was pregnant again, and due around the first of the year. From the Spring to the Fall Plath wrote many more poems, including "Insomniac", "Widow", "The Rival", "Stars over the Dordogne", "Wuthering Heights", "The Moon and the Yew Tree", and "Blackberrying". In October she submitted the manuscript of her novel, titled The Bell Jar, to her British publisher Heinemann.

On January 17, 1962 Sylvia gave birth to a 9 pound 11 ounce boy whom she named Nicholas. She became distressed, however, when she noticed that Ted seemed somehow disappointed that the new baby was a boy and that he was increasingly standoffish to the child in the weeks that followed. Plath soon developed a habit of using the quiet morning hours to write. During the spring she produced "Little Fugue", "An Appearance", "Crossing the Water", "Among the Narcissi", "Pheasant", "Elm", "Event and The Rabbit Catcher". The latter two poems were written directly after a visit from David and Assia, the couple that was sub-letting the London apartment. During the visit Ted and Assia seemed to flirt with each other openly. Sylvia said nothing, but instead wrote these poems.

Though Plath's The Colossus and Other Poems was finally published in America in May of 1962, it met with a poor reception and few reviews. Despite this, Sylvia wrote to her mother in June that "this is the richest and happiest time of my life". She had started writing a sequel to The Bell Jar which told the story of a young American girl in England who fell in love and married. Her plan was to present Ted with the rough draft for his birthday in August. Yet despite her cheerful talk of how she had everything she could want in life while her mother visited again in June, Aurelia could not help but notice a tension between her daughter and Ted. Her suspicions of an underlying problem were, unfortunately, confirmed in early July.

Returning from a morning outing with her mother one day, Sylvia heard the phone ring as they walked into the house and rushed to answer it. Obviously surprised by their early return, Ted fell down the stairs in his haste to try to reach the phone first. When Sylvia answered, she heard a woman disguising her voice, but she realized it was Assia. After Ted finished speaking a few words and hung up, Plath jerked the phone wire from its socket. She realized what the call meant, and that it helped explain Ted's increasingly odd behavior over the past two months. Since David and Assia's visit, the quarrels were growing in frequency, and Sylvia did not always know where Ted was on his frequent trips away from home.

After days of torment and anguish, anger set in. One day Plath built a rubbish fire in the backyard, tore up the only manuscript of the novel she had been working on, the sequel to The Bell Jar, and threw the pieces into the fire. She later burnt the over one thousand letters from her mother that she had kept through the years, and boxes full of Ted's letters and drafts of poems. During this turbulent time Plath wrote such poems as "Words Heard, by Accident over the Phone", "Poppies in July", and "Burning the Letters". Before Aurelia left in early August she wanted to have photographs taken with her daughter and grandchildren. The pictures were snapped by Ted, and in the series of photos the uneasiness in Plath's eyes is evident.

Hughes continued to see Assia, returning to the house in Devon only on the weekends. In September Sylvia and Ted went to Ireland in an attempt to reconcile the marriage, but it ended disastrously when Ted suddenly packed up and left three days before the end of the trip. Friends were telling Plath that Ted would not grow out of this selfish immaturity and accept responsibility -- and that she should file for divorce immediately. Later in September Sylvia wrote to her mother that Ted had stated he never wanted children, but didn't have the courage to tell her. She said that she could not move back to the States right now because she didn't want to run away, and could not face her mother until she had a "new life".

In the first week of October, Plath began to write. The month before, she had written her poems "For A Fatherless Son" and "A Birthday Present". In a week she wrote "The Detective", "The Courage of Shutting Up" and a series of poems collectively called "Bees" - "The Bee Meeting", "The Arrival of the Bee Box", "Stings", "The Swarm", and "Wintering". Ted arrived one day to pack his things and stayed for a week, during which he told Sylvia that he and Assia had speculated that she might have already killed herself. At least if she was dead, he said, he could sell the house and take Frieda. After all, David Wevill had tried to kill himself when Assia left him for Ted. Just before leaving, he told Plath he had hated living with her and had wanted to leave her for years.

Poetry of this order is a murderous art. ~ A. Alvarez, about 'Ariel' ~

Despite a severe case of flu in mid-October, Plath seemed to be coping with the immense stress of the breakup of her marriage by writing poetry at a phenomenal pace. From October 11 through November 4 she produced over twenty-five poems, most of which would eventually be considered the best of her career. These poems, in approximate order of their creation, include: "A Secret", "The Applicant", "Daddy", "Medusa", "The Jailer", "Lesbos", "Stopped Dead", "Fever 103", "Amnesiac", "Lyonesse", "Cut", "By Candlelight", "The Tour", "Poppies In October", "Ariel", "Purdah", "Nick And The Candlestick", "Lady Lazarus", "The Couriers", "Getting There", "The Night Dances", "Gulliver", "Thalidomide", "Letter In Nov", and "Death & Co". "Daddy" is an intensely emotional verse, obviously written about her own father. On her birthday -- October 27th -- Plath had composed both "Poppies In October" and "Ariel", one of her most well-known and self-identifying poems.

In November she arranged most of these poems, and some others into a manuscript: Ariel and Other Poems. When she started submitting the poems to publishers, however, they surprisingly met mostly with rejection. Later in November she also wrote "Years", "The Fearful", "Mary's Song" and "Winter Trees".

In December Plath moved herself and the children back to London, to a flat once occupied by W. B. Yeats, whom she admired. Deciding that the best way to get back at Ted was through her writing, Plath had begun work on a new novel titled Doubletake (and later, Double Exposure) in which the heroine's seemingly perfect husband turns out to be an adulterer. She also wrote the poems "Brasilia", "Childless Woman" and "Eavesdropper". Facing her first Christmas without Ted since they had met was difficult. Friends and family started to feel that despite the brave face Sylvia put on and her claims that she was happy to be rid of him, she secretly hoped for a reunion with Ted. They suspected she was undergoing a severe emotional crisis, not unlike those feelings of rage, fear and abandonment that she underwent at the death of her father twenty-two years earlier.

In mid-January The Bell Jar was published in England under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. It met with positive reviews such as that of one critic who wrote: "There are criticisms of American society that the neurotic can make as well as anyone, perhaps better, and Miss Lucas makes them triumphantly.... This is a brilliant and moving book." From January to February she continued to write poetry: "Sheep in Fog", "Child", "Totem", "The Munich Mannequins", "Paralytic", "Gigolo", "Mystic", "Kindness", "Words", "Contusion", "Balloons" and "Edge". The last, about a dead woman, being perhaps the last complete poem she wrote.

The January weather was horrible in London, and it only added to Plath's worsening depression, as her friends and physician witnessed. Her doctor attempted to find her a bed in the over-full psychiatric hospitals for weeks. In the early morning of February 11, 1963, however, Plath set some bread and milk in the children's room then cracked their window and sealed their door off with tape. She went downstairs and, after sealing herself in the kitchen, knelt in front of the open oven and turned the gas on. Her body was discovered that morning by a nurse scheduled to visit and the construction worker who helped the nurse get into the house.

Plath's world had become too much for her to take. The depression had overcome. Just six months before her death she wrote of feeling

"outcast on a cold star, unable to feel anything but an awful helpless numbness. I look down into the warm, earthy world. Into a nest of lovers' beds, baby cribs, meal tables, all the solid commerce of life in this earth, and feel apart, enclosed in a wall of glass."

She was buried February 16 in the Hughes family cemetery in Heptonstall. It was in her posthumous life that Plath was to become more famous than she had been while alive. The circumstances of her life and her death helped add to the "mythos" of the Plath story. Since they were still married at the time, and she died without a will, Ted became the heir to her estate. After rearranging poems from her last complete manuscript and adding some of those written in her very last days, Ariel and Other Poems was published in 1965.

Ted moved back to the Devon house with the children, and Aurelia visited them every summer. Assia moved in with them, but not until 1966. Though she had never legally divorced David Wevill, she and Ted had a daughter, Alexandra, in 1967. Tragically, in March of 1969, realizing she would never escape from living in Plath's shadow, Assia killed herself and Alexandra in the same way Sylvia had committed her suicide.

Ted Hughes later remarried, and served as the Poet Laureate of Britain from 1984 until his death in 1998. The much-anticipated "Collected Poems" of Sylvia Plath was finally released in 1981 -- and in 1982 won a rarely posthumously-awarded Pulitzer Prize. Of which, no doubt, Sylvia would have been extremely proud.