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Sylvia Plath

Birth and Childhood

Sylvia Plath was a poet, short stories and a novel writer form America. She was born in Massachusetts on 27th of 1932. Sylvia parents were Otto Emil Plath and Aurelia Schober Plath. Her parents were middle class in Jamaica plain and lived in 24 Prince Street that is in suburb of Boston. In 1935, Warren who was her brother was born and they moved to 92 Johnston avenue east of Boston (Hayman 13).  In her new home, she developed passion for the sea at her early age and really enjoyed it especially its beauty. Her mother was an American from Austria origin while the father was from Germany. Her father was a biology lecturer in Boston University while her mother was a holder of master in education from Boston University.

Sylvia was Unitarian Christian until her father's deaths that lead to her lose of faith developing hatred towards religion all her life. Her father died of diabetes mellitus in 1940 after being amputated his foot. She used to visit her father's grave in Winthrop cemetery, thus coming up with a poem called Electra on Azalea Path. In 1942, her mother moved them to 26 Elmwood Road in Wellesley Massachusetts. 

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She started writing at an early age. At the age of eight, her poem appeared in the children's section of the Boston Herald.  She was also gifted in art and in 1947, she worn The Scholastic Art and Award out of her painting. In her early childhood, she was very sharp and even repeated the firth course to learn with children of her age. There on, she became so perfect that she scored straight A's sweeping all the best prizes in her school (Kirk 21).

College Life and Studies

She won a scholarship from Higgins Prouty to Smith College in 1950. Sylvia wanted to become bright and friendly in school which she achieved both. She had a journal that she kept for inspiration purposes. She was sharp to note details others would ignore and this boosted her ambition to become. She continued perfecting her poem writing skills by checking her syllables, lines as well as stanzas length by reading other poets' work such as Dylan Thomas.

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In her first year in college, she started publishing in national periodical. In16th march 1950, her journal youth appeal for world peace appeared in Christian Science Monitor (CMS), her short story "and summer will not come again," was in August issue of Seventeen while her poem "Bitter Strawberries" appeared in CMS on 11th August (Hayman 43).

In 1953, she was writing article for local gazette like Daily Hampshire and college correspondent, Springfield Union. Her short story "Sunday at the Mintons," won the first prize in Mademoiselle Contest and the most coveted Guest Editorship in June 1953. This made her to stay in Barbizon Hotel in New York City during the event with other young women.

Her ambitions to be admitted to Harvard summer class on writing bounced thus spending her August summer at home. She was not writing nor sleeping.  One day she left a note saying that she had gone for a long journey but took a bottle of sleeping pills and took them in an attempt to commit suicide. This made her fell unconscious but was saved and admitted to Mclean Hospital in Belmont where she was treated and received electroconvulsive therapy until her recovery. She was readmitted in the Smith College for spring semester (Kirk 59).  

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She continued working very hard in college despite of her plights. In 1954, she met Richard Sassoon who became he lover. In 1955 January, Sylvia Plath submitted her English thesis, The Magic Mirror: a Study of the Double in Two of Dostoevsky's novel. She also graduated on June from Smith College. She later worn a scholarship to Newnham College in Cambridge. She became very active in poet writing and even published her work in student newspaper (Alexander 75).  .

Life at Cambridge was fantastic especially that education was not as hard as was in Smith College. She was very delighted for she would get quality education and had Richard Sassoon as a man to marry. Due to much lighter academic course, she even enrolled in Amateur Dramatic Club and got a role as an insane poet. She was still dating Sassoon, but later parted after winter holiday. She went back to Cambridge unhappy and started falling sick and suffered depression. She got sprinter in her eye and thus wrote a poem entitled The Eye Monte (Kirk 143). She had to meet a psychiatrist Dr Davy and narrated her love life. She felt very lonely at the age of 23 without a lover. Thus after seeing the doctor, she went a bought Saint Botolph's Review. She read poems written by Lucas Myers and Ted Hughes. Luckily, there was a party the same evening celebrating publication review.

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This is where she met Ted Hughes and recited some of his poem that she had memorized. From there henceforth, they started dating and her life changed completely. She even wrote him a poem called Pursuit where she referred to him as a panther. She also oversee her death by saying she will have a death of him. Hughes who was a great poet also helped her get good poetic voice.

Marriage and Career

According to Hayman 238 Plath was married to Ted Hughes on 16th June 1956. The marriage was done in St George-the-martyr church Bloomsbury. Her mother was there to witness her marriage but Hughes parent were not there. Therefore, after going for their honeymoon in France, they visited them in Yorkshire. She continued to study in Cambridge even after her marriage. They both lived together as Hughes took a job in teaching in a local boy's school. They later decided to go to America for their summer in 1957.

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After marriage, Plath had started to type Ted's poem sending them to America and England. This made Ted to win New York Poetry Center contest for his book the hawk in the rain. She continued her poem writing and in 1957, she was offered a job in Smith College to teach English. Therefore, she had to balance her study, work and house chores. After her exam, they went back to Yorkshire to have time with Ted's family. This was the end of Sylvia Plath formal education.

The couple now decided to dedicate their live in writing and sending their poems to different publishers for contest purposes. In 1959, she became pregnant and Hughes wanted the baby to be born to his native land. They went to Yaddo where Plath wrote a poem about her father leading to a collection of poems entitled Colossus, which became very famous.

In 1960, they traveled to England. On 1st April, they got their first-born named as Frieda Rebecca. Sometime later in the same year, she became pregnant but miscarried. She also had surgery that made her change to writing novel. Therefore, she wrote a novel The Bell of Jar from March 1961. By the end of that year, she also completed 22 novels (Kirk 27). On 17th January 1962, she got a son called Nicholas. With two children, she developed good writing of and very powerful poems. In the same year, she suspected her husband had affairs outside the wedlock and wrote poems about it.

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This forced them to go to Ireland to make up for their relationship in September 1962but after two days Hughes disappeared.  Plath returned alone and wrote so any poems. She went back to look for apartment in Primrose hill in London where she moved in December (Alexander 131). In January, she wrote lots of out burst poems about their relationship. This continued up to 11th February when she was found dead. 

The works of Sylvia Plath and prizes won

It is worth noting from the onset that Sylvia Plath who lived between 1932 and 1963 clearly depicted her prowess in the filed of poetry, short stories, writing novels, children books. Additionally, she depicted early signs and very high promise in literary world. At the age of 8 just before the death of her father, she published her first poem (Biblio 12).  Later, in a seminar in Boston, this is marked as the turning point of her desire to be in the world of literature.

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After realization that she was pregnant, together with her husband they moved back to London where she published what was her first collections of poems, termed The Colossus that was back in 1960. Later, she miscarriage, this was also part of what was heavily reflected in her poems. Before her success in literature and especially in poetry, it is documented that she tried her hands in writing short stories in women's magazines and journals as well as other influential magazines of the years 1950s

It was in 1950 that her writings appeared in national periodicals. One notable article was titled 'Youth's Appeal for World Peace being published in 1950 16 March, it appeared in the Christian Science Monitor. A series of her work then started streaming in the periodicals these included the following short stories; 'And Summer Will Not Come Again', the poem 'Bitter Strawberries'

Three years down the line, in 1953 Plath wrote articles that appeared in the local newspaper for instance the Daily Hemisphere Gazette and the Springfield Union (Hayman 164).  

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Her short story titled 'Sunday at the Minton' her first prize in one of the contest dubbed Mademoiselle. In addition she also won a Guest Editorship at Mademoiselle from the same short story. One of her well known novel, The Bell Jar reflects the life she had with other women in 63 Street and Lexington Avenue

As suggested by Kirk 97 after being treated from the pains of taking an overdose of sleeping pill, she went to Smith, where she submitted her thesis that earned her honor, 'The magic Mirror: The Double in Dostoevsky'. She won scholarship to study in Cambridge University. While in London, she meet with Ted Hughes to whom she wrote a poem' Pursuit' this was her expression to him in which he referred to him as a panther. It is worth noting that her works were influenced by such people as Yeats W, Dylan Thomas, Lawrence, D among others.  Hughes did played a major role in trying to make Plath what we presently see her.











Although it can be said that Hughes won a prize in New York Poetry Center contest, the architect of all these was Plath who sent Hughes works. During this same period while living with Hughes, she wrote some more poems such as 'Soe', 'Hard castle Crags' and 'The Thin People' (Hayman 273). 

Her work, Mussel Hunter at Rock Harbor' was accepted by New Yorker. Later she took part-time job at a hospital; these experiences are echoed in her work, 'This Earth Our Hospital'. In 1959 she wrote other poems which were a reflection of what she saw while she was with her husband in various national parks, the poems included, 'Dark Wood, Dark Water' and 'The Manor Garden. By 1961 after being hospitalized as a result of miscarriage, she wrote 'Tulips and 'In Plaster'. At the same time she began writing a novel, The Bell Jar. In 1961 and 1962, she wrote slightly over 50 poems (Biblio 12)

In 1963, the kind of poems she wrote have been describes as being soft as if she new she was nearing the end of her literary works. Among the poems she wrote are 'Sheep in Fog', 'Kindness', 'mystic', 'Words', 'Edge' to mention but a few. She is a well celebrated artist due to her writing skills in poetry and novel as well as short stories.

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Plath attempted to commit suicide several times during her life time. It is worth mentioning that immediately she separated from her husband Hughes due to marital problems her life became difficult. She decided to end this by killing her self. It is documented that in the early day of February 11 1963 Plath locked her self in a room and sealed every where using wet clothing. After leaving a note for Mr. Trevor, she then place her head in a gas oven and opened it, she died from carbon monoxide poisoning.  She was later buried within a week since her death (Alexander 231). 


From the review of the life of Sylvia Plath is evident that she went through a lot especially in her quest to being a well known poet, novelist, and short story writer among others. She lived between the years 1932 and 1963 having accomplished a lot in the field of poetry as well as other literacy work within such a short span of time. In total over one hundred poems are among her works. She died in 1963 after committing suicide.  Her work can be divided into poetry collections, children books and collected prose and novels.

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