Sylvia Plath (1932 – 1963) was a writer, most famous for her marriage to Ted Hughes and her suicide at the age of 30.
Plath was born in Boston, on the 27th October 1932, to Aurelia, her mother and Otto, her father, who was a professor at Boston University. Her brother, Warren was born in 1935.
Plath was talented in art, and also had a poem published in a newspaper at the age of eight. It was also at this age, in 1940, that Plath’s father died following an operation.
In 1950 Plath graduated from high school and began Smith College.
After her third year of college Plath was affected by depression and had ECT. In August of 1953 she attempted suicide by taking an overdose of sleeping tablets, and she subsequently spent six months in a psychiatric hospital, receiving both ECT and insulin shock treatment. After this she returned to college, graduating the following year, also receiving a Fulbright Scholarship to study at Newnham College at Cambridge University.
During her time in Cambridge Plath met Ted Hughes, who she married on the 16th June 1956. The following her they moved to the USA, where Plath spent time teaching at Smith College, before moving to Boston and working as a hospital receptionist.
In 1959 Plath and Hughes moved to London, where their daughter Frieda was born on the 1st April 1960. Later that year, Plath’s first poetry collection was published, The Colossus. Following a miscarriage the following her, the family moved to Devon where a son, Nicholas, was born early in 1962.
In July 1962 Plath discovered that Hughes had been having an affair with Assia Wevill, after the latter and her husband had rented a flat from the couple. Plath and Hughes then separated, and Plath spent a great deal of time writing poems. In January 1963 The Bell Jar, Plath’s autobiographical novel, was published.
Plath, suffering from depression once again, was prescribed anti-depressants and a nurse was arranged to help her, after attempts to admit her to hospital failed. When the nurse arrived on the 11th February 1963 she found the flat locked and needed help to gain entry. Plath was in the kitchen, having committed suicide by gassing herself in the oven. To protect her children in a nearby room, she had put wet towels over the gaps in the doorways after opening the window in their room.
Plath was buried in Heptonstall, West Yorkshire, where many headstones have been damaged by people trying to remove the name ‘Hughes’, blaming her husband’s affair for her suicide.