Sylvia Plath (1932-1963)
Born to middle class parents in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, Sylvia Plath published her first poem when she was eight. Sensitive, intelligent, compelled toward perfection in everything she attempted, she was, on the surface, a model daughter, popular in school, earning straight A's, winning the best prizes. By the time she entered Smith College on a scholarship in 1950 she already had an impressive list of publications, and while at Smith she wrote over four hundred poems.
Although on the outside Plath seemed happy and well adjusted, she had quite a few personal problems , the main one being the death of her father (he was a college professor and an expert on bees) when she was eight. During the summer following her junior year at Smith, having returned from a stay in New York City where she had been a student "guest editor'' at Mademoiselle Magazine, Plath nearly succeeded in killing herself by swallowing sleeping pills.
She later described this experience in an autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar, published in 1963. After a period of recovery involving electroshock and psychotherapy Plath resumed her pursuit of academic and literary success, graduating from Smith with honors and winning a Fulbright scholarship to study at Cambridge, England.
In 1956 she married the English poet Ted Hughes, and in 1960, when she was 28, her first book, The Colossus, was published in England. She and Hughes settled for a while in an English country village in Devon, but less than two years after the birth of their first child the marriage broke apart, due to the fact that her husband was having an affair with a woman. This was the root of Plath's disgust and hatred towards men.
The winter of 1962-63, one of the coldest in centuries, had...