Sylvia Plath

= Subscribers only. Sign in here. Subscribe here.

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Sylvia Plath was born three weeks prematurely, on October 27, 1932. At the age of four, she started elementary school, and learned to swim by necessity, after accidentally wading too far into the ocean. When she was eight, her poem, “Poem,” was published in the children’s section of the Boston Herald. Her father died the same year. “I’ll never speak to God again,” she said.

In 1953, Russell Lynes, then managing editor of Harper’s Magazine, bought three poems by Plath, who was a junior at Smith College, for $100. The same year, Plath was appointed editor of the Smith Review; received a guest editorship at Mademoiselle; attempted suicide for the first time; and underwent electroconvulsive therapy. She recalled the period in 1957 while reading Virginia Woolf’s diaries: “I felt I was reduplicating [Woolf’s suicide] in that black summer of 1953,” she wrote. “Only I couldn’t drown.” Of Woolf, Plath also noted that “she works off her depression over rejections from Harper’s (no less!—and I can hardly believe that the Big Ones get rejected, too!) by cleaning out the kitchen.”

Plath’s poems were published in two subsequent issues of Harper’s Magazine before she graduated college. In 1956, while on a Fulbright scholarship at Cambridge University, she met Ted Hughes, and married him the same year. She submitted forty of his poems to a Harper’s contest in 1957; Hughes was awarded the prize, and his first collection was published soon after. “We will publish a bookshelf of books between us before we perish!” Plath wrote in her diary. “And a batch of brilliant healthy children.”

Plath’s first poetry collection, The Colossus and Other Poems, was published in 1960. Her semi-autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar, was published under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas, shortly before her death on February 11, 1963. The Collected Poems (1981) won the Pulitzer Prize, making Plath the first to receive that award posthumously. Since Plath’s death, vandals have scratched Hughes’s name off her tombstone in West Yorkshire several times; each time, the tombstone has been re-engraved.

Wraparound — From the October 1975 issue

Wraparound

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Poetry — From the December 1962 issue

Leaving early

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Poetry — From the August 1962 issue

Private ground

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Poetry — From the February 1962 issue

Sleep in the Mojave Desert

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Poetry — From the June 1961 issue

You’re

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

After hours — From the July 1960 issue

Mushrooms

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

May 2016

Unhackable

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

American Imperium

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Fighting Chance

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Front Runner

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Habits of Highly Cynical People

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Post
Elisabeth Zerofsky on Marine Le Pen, Paul Wachter on the quest for an unhackable email, Rebecca Solnit on cynical people, Andrew J. Bacevich on truth and fiction in the age of war, Samuel James photographs E.P.L. soccer, a story by Vince Passaro, and more

I sat in a taxi with Emma and her son, Stak, all three bodies muscled into the rear seat, and the boy checked the driver’s I.D. and immediately began to speak to the man in an unrecognizable language.

I conferred quietly with Emma, who said he was studying Pashto, privately, in his spare time. Afghani, she said, to enlighten me further.

Illustration by Taylor Callery
Article
Front Runner·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"The F.N. asked to be sent to an institution whose legitimacy it did not accept, and French voters rewarded the party with first place in the election."
Illustration (detail) by Matthew Richardson
Memoir
I Am Your Conscious, I Am Love·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

A paean 2 Prince
"And one thinks, Looking into Prince's eyes must be like looking at the world."
Photo ©© PeterTea
Article
Stop Hillary!·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"As wacky as it sometimes appears on the surface, American politics has an amazing stability and continuity about it."
Article
Plexiglass·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

I sat in a taxi with Emma and her son, Stak, all three bodies muscled into the rear seat, and the boy checked the driver’s I.D. and immediately began to speak to the man in an unrecognizable language.

I conferred quietly with Emma, who said he was studying Pashto, privately, in his spare time. Afghani, she said, to enlighten me further.

Photograph (detail) by Karine Laval

Age at death last March of the sturgeon Nikita, Khrushchev’s gift to Norway, after an accidental immersion in salt water:

38

There were new reports of cannibalism in North Korea.

The Finnish postal service announced it will begin mowing lawns on Tuesdays.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Mississippi Drift

By

Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'

Subscribe Today