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The Letters of Sylvia Plath: Volume I

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The Letters of Sylvia Plath Volume I: 1940–1956

Sylvia Plath (1932–1963) was one of the writers that defined the course of twentieth-century poetry. Her vivid, daring and complex poetry continues to captivate new generations of readers and writers.

In the Letters, we discover the art of Plath’s correspondence, most of which has never before been published and is here presented unabridged, without revision, so that she speaks directly in her own words. Refreshingly candid and offering intimate details of her personal life, Plath is playful, too, entertaining a wide range of addressees, including family, friends and professional contacts, with inimitable wit and verve.

The letters document Plath’s extraordinary literary development: the genesis of many poems, short and long fiction, and journalism. Her endeavour to publish in a variety of genres had mixed receptions, but she was never dissuaded. Through acceptance of her work, and rejection, Plath strove to stay true to her creative vision. Well-read and curious, she offers a fascinating commentary on contemporary culture.

Leading Plath scholars Peter K. Steinberg and Karen V. Kukil, editor of The Journals of Sylvia Plath 1950–1962, provide comprehensive footnotes and an extensive index informed by their meticulous research. Alongside a selection of photographs and Plath’s own line-drawings, the editors masterfully contextualise what the pages disclose.

This selection of early correspondence marks the key moments of Plath’s adolescence, including childhood hobbies and high school boyfriends; her successful but turbulent undergraduate years at Smith College; the move to England and Cambridge University; and her meeting and marrying Ted Hughes, including a trove of unseen letters post-honeymoon, revealing their extraordinary creative partnership.

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