Sylvia Plath Letters at the British Library

Sylvia Plath Letters at the British Library

23rd October 2018

Triple-Threat Woman: The Letters of Sylvia Plath

Insights into the life and work of a great writer

Poet and novelist Sylvia Plath was a great letter writer, and a newly published collection (The Letters of Sylvia Plath Volume II: 1956–1963, Faber and Faber) gathers letters from the period when she wrote her best-known works Ariel and The Bell Jar. Join the editors Karen V Kukil and Peter K Steinberg, and leading Plath scholars Heather Clark and Mark Ford, to explore the insights that they provide into her life and work.

Alternating reflections on literature with quotidian episodes, the letters offer insights about her life as an American woman in England in the late 1950s and 60s, and her experience with writing, her marriage to Ted Hughes and motherhood.

‘If I want to keep on being a triple-threat woman: writer, wife and teacher…I can’t be a drudge’. From a letter to Marcia B Stern, 9 April 1957

Heather Clark is the author of two award-winning books on 20th-century poetry: The Ulster Renaissance: Poetry in Belfast 1962-1972 and The Grief of Influence: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes (2011) both published by Oxford University Press. Her biography of Sylvia Plath will be published by in 2019.

Mark Ford is a poet, critic and Head of the Department of English Language and Literature at University College London. He has written four collections of poetry: Landlocked (1992), Soft Sift (2001), Six Children (2011), and Enter, Fleeing (2018).

Karen V Kukil curates literary manuscripts at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, including the papers of Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf. She is the editor of the Journals of Sylvia Plath (2000) and Woolf in the Real World: Selected Papers from the Thirteenth International Conference on Virginia Woolf (2005) and co-editor of the Letters of Sylvia Plath (2 vols. 2017-2018). Kukil’s exhibitions include ‘No Other Appetite’: Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, and the Blood Jet of Poetry (Grolier Club, 2005) and One Life: Sylvia Plath (National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C, 2018).

Archivist Peter K Steinberg is co-editor the Letters of Sylvia Plath (Faber) and co-author of These Ghostly Archives: The Unearthing of Sylvia Plath (2017). He authored the biography Sylvia Plath(2004), the introductions to The Spoken Word: Sylvia Plath (2010) and Sylvia Plath in Devon: A Year’s Turning by Elizabeth Sigmund and Gail Crowther (2015), and articles on Plath have appeared in Fine Books & Collections, Notes & Queries, and Plath Profiles.

In association with Faber and Faber and supported by the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library

Tickets: £12/£10/£8