Black and white photograph of American poet and novelist Sylvia Plath.

Sylvia Plath

(1932 - 1963)

Described as a “dangerously brainy” child, Sylvia Plath published her first poem at the age of eight. She later wrote in her journals of a need “to be true to my own weirdnesses” and to convey in her poetry “real situations, behind which the great gods play the drama of blood, lust, and death.” After attempting suicide with sleeping pills in 1953 and undergoing shock treatment at McLean Hospital, Plath wrote her honors thesis on Fyodor Dostoevsky and graduated from Smith College in 1955. She published her first collection of poetry, The Colossus, in 1960 and her novel, The Bell Jar, under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas, in 1963. Less than a month after the novel appeared, she died by suicide at the age of thirty.

All Writing

Is there no way out of the mind?

—Sylvia Plath, 1962

There must be quite a few things a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them.

—Sylvia Plath, 1963


In 1963, having left bread, butter, and milk for her sleeping children, Sylvia Plath stuck her head inside an oven. In 1974, having turned on her car in a closed garage, waiting for the carbon monoxide to kill her, Anne Sexton sat and drank vodka.

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