Sylvia Plath


The American poet and novelist Sylvia Plath was born of Austrian and German parents in Boston, Massachusetts.

She attended Smith College, and in 1955 – when she had already published poems and stories in various prestigious journals – she was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study at Newnham College, Cambridge.

She had shown signs of mental instability and had tried to commit suicide – as described in the highly-autobiographical novel The Bell Jar which she published in 1963 under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas.

At Cambridge, she met the poet Ted Hughes, whom she married in London in 1956. After a summer of writing in Spain, the newly-weds returned to England.

Their daughter Frieda was born in 1960, and a son, Nicholas Farrar, was born in January 1962. The marriage showed signs of strain, Ted left Sylvia for another woman, and in 1962 the couple separated and Sylvia returned with the children to London to start divorce proceedings.

On 11th February 1963, depressed and ill during the worst winter for many years, she committed suicide. After laying out food for her 2 children who were asleep upstairs, she put her head in the gas oven

During the 1960s and 1970s, some of her work was published posthumously, including a collection of poems, Ariel.

She was buried at Halifax Parish Church Her grave is in the newest part of the churchyard across Back Lane. Her fans have made the grave a very tacky sight, including a plastic bucket filled with cheap ball pens on the grave. The gravestone bears the inscription:



Ted Hughes said he chose the line from Sanskrit because he used to repeat it in order to cheer Sylvia up when she was feeling sad.

On several occasions, vandals have defaced the word Hughes on the headstone

© Malcolm Bull 2021
Revised 09:45 / 27th May 2021 / 4136

Page Ref: MMP77

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