Readersforum's Blog

February 3, 2013

Sylvia Plath in New York: ‘pain, parties and work’

 Mad Girl's Love Song: Sylvia Plath and Life Before Tedby Andrew Wilson

Mad Girl’s Love Song: Sylvia Plath and Life Before Ted
by Andrew Wilson

Sylvia Plath travelled to New York City in June 1953 full of excitement and ambition about a guest editorship at Mademoiselle magazine. But soon her anticipation turned to suffering. She was to return home a changed person…

While studying at Smith College in Massachusetts, Sylvia Plath had been submitting assignments to Mademoiselle magazine and secured one of 20 month-long placements starting in June 1953. She knew winning the guest editorship was an important step towards fulfilling her literary aspirations. So far, success had come easily: Sylvia had published many short stories and not only won two poetry prizes from Smith – the Ethel Olin Corbin prize and the Elizabeth Babcock award, which netted her $120 – but she had also been commissioned by Mademoiselle to interview Elizabeth Bowen in Cambridge. She just hoped, as she wrote to [her brother] Warren, that the world wasn’t destroyed by war before both of them were able to enjoy the fruits of their labours. An implosion – rather than an explosion – was indeed on the horizon. Sylvia’s world was about to be nearly destroyed, not by an external enemy but by forces much closer to home.

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