Fifty years on from the first publication of The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath is read and re-read by new generations fascinated by her reputation, her fragile brilliance, her marriage to Ted Hughes, and what she represents as a woman, brow-beaten by an unsympathetic society.
This Guardian Short draws on archive material from the Guardian and Observer, exploring the contemporary reception to Plath’s work, including to the posthumous publication of Ariel, the collection of poems that defines her literary heritage. It features the words of, among others, her daughter, Frieda Hughes, and of Al Alvarez, then the Observer’s poetry editor and Plath’s great friend.
These pieces are drawn together by a brand-new narrative that examines Plath’s reputation now, and sets the context for the many attempts to understand and analyse one of literature’s most compelling figures. Combined, they are a unique and eye-opening view into the life and writing of Sylvia Plath.