Sylvia Plath is considered a pioneer of the confessional poetry style. She was not well known till she committed suicide in 1963 at the age of 30 because of her lifelong struggle with depression. She didn’t enjoy the much deserved limelight since all of her poetic work was published after her death.
Here are some facts about this fascinating poet.
Just a week after her eighth birthday, she lost her father and then in the same year she published her first poem ‘Poem’ in Boston Herald’s children’s section and after that she continued to publish multiple poems in regional magazines and newspaper.
In 1950, when Plath began attending Smith College, she made her first suicide attempt in 1953 by crawling under her house and taking sleeping pills of her mother. And she survived after her first attempt and was found lying in a crawl space after three days.
Plath’s husband was Ted Hughes, who is considered one of the greatest poets of his generation and was also a Poet Laureate of U.K. for the last 14 days of his life.
Plath married Ted Hughes on June 16, 1956 four months after meeting him at a party in Cambridge, England on February 25, 1956. Her relationship with Hughes was unstable as she wrote to her therapist about it saying, she had a miscarriage as Hughes has beaten her up and also cheated on her. It is also believed that Hughes mistress was pregnant at the time of Plath’s suicide and the mistress was said to abort the baby soon after.
For the last five months of Plath’s life, she and Hughes were separated, and she was living in London with their two young children and also used to write there. As both of them were not divorced at the time Plath died, Hughes inherited Plath’s estate- including all her unpublished work.
Plath’s suicide note consisted only of four words – “Please call Dr. Horder”, along with the doctor’s number written on it. This four lettered suicide note stirred the debate ever since – was her suicide intentional or a cry for help?
Plath’s novel, “The Bell Jar” was published in England just before her suicide in 1963. It is her only novel that is a semi-autobiographical portraying her struggle with the mental illness that she was suffering from.
Plath committed suicide in the same house W. B. Yeats, an Irish Poet had once lived. She and her two children lived in that same flat and she considered it a good omen for her own writing. This was the same place where she committed suicide by locking herself in kitchen and gassing herself up while her children were sleeping soundly in a room.