Sylvia Plath

The life and death of poet Sylvia Plath.

Sylvia Plath had beauty, smarts, a family, and talent. So what lead this Pulitzer Prize winning poet to commit suicide at the age of 30, leaving behind two young children?

Plath was born on October 27th, 1932, in Jamaica Plains, Massachusetts. Her parents were both scholarly and intelligent. Her father, Otto, was a professor at Boston University. Her mother Aurelia Schober, was a teacher who met Mr. Plath while she was his pupil.

When Sylvia was the tender age of eight, Otto Plath died. This event left his widow alone to care for two children, and left Sylvia with a lifetime's worth of grief. This grief and heartache would eventually become the source of some of Sylvia's best writings.

With her father gone from her life, Sylvia gave herself completely to her education. Even in high school she would not settle for anything other than straight A's. Aside from her school work, she wrote continuously. She submitted story after story to magazines, who in turn noticed her talent and published her writings. When it came time to go to college, Sylvia was bestowed with two scholarships, which let her attend the prestigious women's college in Massachusetts, Smith College.

Sylvia's grades in college were just the same as the ones she worked for in high school. She also continued to write and submit her writings. It was on the merit of these writings that Sylvia was rewarded with the chance of a lifetime. It was also an event that would inspire her only novel, entitled, The Bell Jar.

In the summer of 1953, Sylvia was part of a select group of young women, all of whom were chosen to be guest editors for the magazine Mademoiselle. While working and living in New York City that summer, Sylvia nose-dived into a deep depression, a depression that climaxed at the end of the summer after returning home. Sylvia nearly killed herself by swallowing nearly 20 sleeping pills. She wasn't discovered for days and had lapsed into a coma. After fully recovering from her coma, she was sent to McLean's Hospital in Massachusetts, a hospital long known for its treatment of the mentally ill.

After her treatment at McLean's, Sylvia returned to Smith College in the fall of 1954, all the while never letting her mental health affect her school work. She continued to excel and won the Fulbright scholarship and an oppurtunity to study at Newnham College in Cambridge, England. It was there in Cambridge that Sylvia met the man that would become her husband, English poet Ted Hughes. After a four month courtship, Ted and Sylvia were wed in June of 1956.

After spending some time in America, where Sylvia took a job as an instructor at Smith College, the couple moved to England in 1959. It was there that their family grew, with Sylvia giving birth to two children, Frieda in 1960 followed by Nicholas in 1962.

While living and working in England, Sylvia's work received more attention and critical acclaim.

However, Sylvia's family life was falling apart. After learning that Ted was in love with another woman, Sylvia took the children and moved out. With yet another man gone from her life she once again turned to her work to deter her. She continued working on her novel, The Bell Jar, as well as writing poem after poem.

The seperation sent Sylvia into another depression, this one with a worse fate then any other she had encountered. On the morning of February 11, 1963, Sylvia gased herself in her kitchen, leaving her two young children motherless.

In June of 1963 The Bell Jar was finally published. In 1981 The Collected Poems was published and in 1982 the collection won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

From the time of her death until today, Sylvia's work has been extensivly read and enjoyed. Sylvia Plath had the ability to transform any emotion or event into the most beautiful of verse. However, the weight of her actual life was too much for her to handle, and so as so many other genuises have done, she left the world much too early.

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