Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Plath mss. II, 1932-1977, consist of the correspondence, writings and memorabilia of poet Sylvia Plath, 1932-1963, and her family. Plath was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and began writing poetry as a child. She entered Smith College in 1950 and, after an abortive suicide attempt in August of 1953, graduated in 1955. She then attended Newnham College in Cambridge for two years on a Fulbright Fellowship where late in her first year she met and shortly thereafter married poet Ted Hughes. Plath took her degree in June 1957, after which she and Hughes sailed to America for a year of teaching and a second year of writing and travel. In late 1959 they returned to England where Plath lived until her death in February 1963.

Plath's poetry, short stories, and articles were published by various newspapers and magazines, including the Christian Science Monitor, Harper's, Mademoiselle, The New Yorker, Poetry, and Seventeen. Before her death, one book of poetry, The Colossus, appeared in both Great Britain and the United States and her novel, The Bell Jar, was published in Great Britain under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. Another book of poetry, Ariel, appeared posthumously in 1965 and other poetry has since been published.

Correspondents in the collection include Elizabeth Bowen, Peter Davison, Paul Hamilton Engle, Ted Hughes, Lynne Lawner, Russell Lynes, Olive Higgins Prouty, Henry Rago, Bryna Ivens Untermeyer, Edward Augustus Weeks, William Carlos Williams.

The writings consist of some 200 poems, 60 works of fiction, and 15 pieces of non-fiction. The compilations for The Bell Jar and Ariel are not present in this collection.

Memorabilia runs the range of a baby book, Smith College papers, artwork, swatches of hair, photographs, and scrapbooks.

A finding aid is available.

Also see the Guide to the Sylvia Plath Materials in the Lilly Library

Collection size: 3,311 items

Related manuscripts: Plath mss. X, Plath mss., Plath mss. III, Plath mss. IV, Plath mss. V, Plath mss. XI, Plath mss. VI, Plath mss. VII, Plath mss. VIII, Plath mss. IX

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.