Sylvia Plath’s Suicide Note: Death Knell, or Cry for Help?

It may be surprising that the iconic poet Sylvia Plath, who wrote extensively and evocatively of death and suicide in her poetry, left a note of only four words before taking her own life. A debate has stirred ever since — was Sylvia Plath’s suicide note a death knell, or a cry for help? 

Sylvia Plath’s note simply said “Please call Dr. Horder” — along with this doctor’s phone number. Could a slip of paper bearing these four words even be considered a suicide note at all? For whose eyes was  it intended?

When Sylvia Plath committed suicide in February of 1963, it wasn’t the first time she had tried to take her own life. Ten years earlier, she overdosed on pills in the cellar of her mother’s house. And the summer before she died, she drove her car into a river. Her suicide left many questions unanswered. Read More→

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Introspective Quotes by Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath (1932 – 1963) has achieved cult-like status as a major American poet. Ambitious, brilliant, and beautiful, she was cursed with a lifelong struggle with depression that led to suicide at the age of thirty.

Because most of her work was published after her untimely death, she wasn’t alive to enjoy very many of the fruits of her labors. But her place in the American literary canon is secure and well deserved.

Her poetry as well as her journals are frank and revelatory about her personal life and innermost thoughts. Passages from her journals reveal her attempts to balance nagging self-doubt with a hunger to write and create. Here are introspective quotes by Sylvia Plath from a variety of sources. Read More→

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Quotes from The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath’s only published novel, The Bell Jarwas originally published in England under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas in 1963. That was the same year in which she committed suicide. Here we’ll explore quotes from The Bell Jar, an influential modern novel that took mental illness head on in a chronicle both terrifying and tender.

Born in 1932, Plath, the gifted American poet, struggled with chronic depression and made no pretense of concealing her pain in her writings. Her poetry is considered part of the frank and revelatory “confessional movement.”

The Bell Jar wasn’t published in the U.S. until 1971, in accordance with the wishes of Ted Hughes, to whom she had been married at the time of her death (though they were separated at the time). From the 1971 Harper and Row edition: Read More→

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The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (1971)

While living in London in 1961, American poet Sylvia Plath wrote to a friend about her desire to write a novel:

“I have been wanting to do this for ten years but had a terrible block about Writing A Novel. Then suddenly in beginning negotiations with a New York Publisher for an American edition of my poems, the dykes broke and I stayed awake all night seized by fearsome excitement, saw how it should be done, started the next day & go every morning to my borrowed study as to an office & belt out more of it.”

The result was The Bell Jar. Sylvia Plath’s only published novel was originally published in England under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas in 1963, and published in the U.S. eight years later in accordance with the wishes of Ted Hughes, to whom she had been married at the time of her suicide. Read More→

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10 of Sylvia Plath’s Best Loved Poems

Sylvia Plath (1932 – 1963) took her own life at age 30, leaving behind a trove of what is considered landmark poetry. Following is a selection of Sylvia Plath’s best loved poems, a glimpse of the work of a gifted pioneer of the confessional poetry genre.

Plath’s poems observed life’s beauty, but they were also brutally honest about its pain and darker moments. Some of her work was inscrutable, allowing each reader her or his own interpretation.

Her reputation as a poet was cemented with the publication of The Colossus in 1960. The poetry in this collection was intense, personal, and delicately crafted. Ariel, another of her best-known collections, was published posthumously in 1965. The beauty of craft remains even as it reveals the fissures and anguish growing in the poet’s psyche. Read More→

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