Sylvia Plath

Photograph of Sylvia Plath, by Rollie McKenna

Sylvia Plath was an American poet, short story author and novelist, credited for the advancement of confessional poetry, a genre that emerged in America during the 1950’s. She is best known for her works, The Colossus and Other Poems, and Ariel. Born 27 October 1932 in Jamaica Plains, Boston, Massachusetts to a second-generation American mother of Austrian heritage, and a German born father, Plath published her first poem in the Boston Herald, aged 8.


1950: aged 18, Sylvia Plath began her college career at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, where she excelled academically. During the summer of her third year, she was awarded a position of guest editor at Mademoiselle, and spent one month in New York City. The experience was inspiration for her semi-autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar; like Esther, the book’s main character, Plath suffered with depression, and made multiple attempts at suicide.


11 February 1963, Plath placed her head in the oven at her London home, and turned on the gas after sealing off the rooms between her and her two sleeping children. Aged 30, she left behind a daughter, son, and husband, English poet Ted Hughes. Sylvia Plath was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1982, and remains one of the highest regarded writers in the literary world.