12 Fascinating Facts About Sylvia Plath

--v, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Though she's considered a pioneer of the confessional poetry style, Sylvia Plath was not widely famous when she died by suicide in 1963 at age 30. But her legacy has long outgrown her untimely death: Her collections of poetry and one novel, most published posthumously, are still read, debated, and quoted reverently.

1. Sylvia Plath published her first poem at 8 years old.

Entitled "Poem," Plath's first foray into poetry was featured in the Boston Herald's children's section in 1941.

"Hear the crickets chirping
In the dewy grass.
Bright little fireflies
Twinkle as they pass."

Plath, of course, would later have poems published in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, and Harper's Bazaar.

2. Sylvia Plath's father was a prestigious bee expert, inspiring her "Bee Poems."

Sylvia's father, Otto Plath, emigrated to the United States from Germany as a teenager, and he grew up to become a professor of entomology at Boston University and an authority on bumble bees—his 1934 book Bumblebees and Their Ways analyzed bee colonies and the power of the queen in them. Otto was a huge influence on Sylvia's work—one of her most famous poems is entitled "Daddy," and it and others suggest she fell into the marry-your-father type of trope as well.

Otto died unexpectedly of complications from late-diagnosed diabetes when Sylvia was 8, and she would grapple with that loss for the rest of her life. At the height of her creative output, the fall of 1962, she wrote a sequence of five poems, "the bee poems," in less than a week. They are hopeful and life-affirming works that were originally intended to end her collection Ariel, but were instead posthumously displaced with the darker, more depressive poems like "Edge" and "Words" that she wrote in her final days. The Bee Poems, which were unceremoniously dumped in the middle of the published version of Ariel, are so different from what Plath is known for—self-destruction, casual violence—that they have often been overlooked as part of her creative canon.

3. Sylvia Plath also wrote children's books.

Illustration by Rotraut Susanne Berner, for Sylvia Plath's The It-Doesn't-Matter Suit. Amazon

All published posthumously, Plath had a small collection of children's stories that were found amongst her journals and papers. One, The It-Doesn't-Matter-Suit, tells a sweet story about Max Nix and his mustard yellow suit. In the story, 7-year-old Max is the youngest of seven brothers. Two of those brothers were Otto and Emil—her father's names.

4. Sylvia Plath's early life has been described as "accomplished."

Although Plath is most often referred to as a tragic figure, she is described as a driven high achiever in adolescence and young adulthood. She had straight As, a full ride to Smith College, and was a Fulbright scholar studying in Cambridge, England. She also won various writing prizes while in college.

5. Sylvia Plath was an intern at Mademoiselle Magazine.

A mural of Sylvia Plath, created by Jane Brewster, in Portland, Oregon.Photo © 2009 by Todd Mecklem via Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

While at Smith College, Plath won a contest to become one of a few "guest editors" at Mademoiselle magazine during the summer of 1953. The experience marked a turning point in Plath's work and life; her novel, The Bell Jar, is a thinly veiled fictionalization of her time in New York City. She described the experience as "pain, parties, work," and one of the book's scenes detailed an attempted rape—an event Plath's personal journals from that summer seem to corroborate. After returning home to Boston, Plath spiraled into depression and survived an attempted suicide; she was briefly institutionalized, but returned to school and graduated with honors.

6. Colossus is the only larger work published in Sylvia Plath's name while she was alive.

In 1960, Plath published this collection of poems first in England, where she lived with her husband, to positive critical reviews (if not massive sales). Technically The Bell Jar was published in England just a month before her death, but it was under the pen name Victoria Lucas, due to publisher concerns of getting sued for libel. The Bell Jar, with Plath rightfully named as author, didn't arrive in the U.S. until 1971—but when it did, it became a surprise bestseller.

7. Sylvia Plath's husband was a famous poet, too.

summonedbyfells, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Plath met English poet Ted Hughes—who is considered one of the greatest poets of his generation and was Poet Laureate of the U.K. for the last 14 years of his life—while she was at Cambridge on scholarship in 1956, and the two married within four months. They chose the date June 16 in honor of Bloomsday, the annual celebration of the life and work of James Joyce. The two were young—she was 23, he 25—and they read, critiqued, and supported each other's work. "I am writing poetry as I never have before," Plath wrote to her brother in 1956, "and it is the best, because I am strong in myself and in love with the only man in the world who is my match."

Their relationship was charged but unstable—by the 1960s, Plath wrote her therapist saying Hughes beat her before she suffered a miscarriage; he cheated on her, and many scholars say his mistress was pregnant at the time of Plath's suicide (the mistress was said to have gotten an abortion soon after). For the last five months of Plath's life, they were separated, and she was living and writing in London with their two young children. Because they were not yet divorced at the time of her death, Hughes inherited Plath's estate—including her unpublished works. Hughes made plans to publish Ariel, but he removed some of her chosen poems, added in new poems, and reordered the rest differently from Plath's original manuscript, some say to maximize the narrative of an increasingly depressed woman doomed to take her own life.

8. Sylvia Plath wrote the poems that would make her an icon just before she died.

Plath died by suicide on the morning of February 11, 1963, the culmination of months of turmoil, severe depression, and an astonishing output of writing. Plath and her husband had recently separated, and she had two young children at home, so she would feverishly write between the hours of 4 and 8 a.m. during a notoriously cold London winter. The resulting poems became the collection Ariel, featuring her most famous poems, including "Lady Lazarus" and "Daddy."

9. Sylvia Plath was the first poet to win a Pulitzer Prize posthumously.

Like_the_Grand_Canyon, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

In 1982, Plath became the first poet to win a Pulitzer Prize posthumously. She won for The Collected Poems—edited by Ted Hughes. "Her attitude to her verse was artisan-like," Hughes wrote in the introduction to the collection. "If she couldn't get a table out of the material, she was quite happy to get a chair, or even a toy. The end product for her was not so much a successful poem, as something that had temporarily exhausted her ingenuity."

10. A psychologist named a phenomenon after Sylvia Plath—then regretted it.

The "depressed poet" has long been a creative stereotype—so much so that psychologist James C. Kaufman named the idea the "Sylvia Plath effect" in 2001, leading to its more mainstream use. Kaufman recently reframed his point of view, calling himself "young and stupid" at the time he introduced the term. He's now studying the impact of creativity on social justice.

11. Sylvia Plath's headstone has been repeatedly vandalized.

Plath's grave, in the West Yorkshire hills of England, has been tampered with multiple times—first, her married name was expunged (some think by "feminist activists" looking to remove Ted Hughes from Plath's narrative), leading to a long period where there was no marker at all. "When I first had the lettering set into the stone … the only question in my mind was how to get the name Plath on to it," Hughes wrote in 1989, when the stone was replaced. "If I had followed custom, the stone would be inscribed Sylvia Hughes, which was her legal name … I was already well aware, in 1963, of what she had achieved under that name, and I wished to honor it."

12. Sylvia Plath continues to impact culture today.

Sylvia Plath has been influencing culture for the nearly six decades since her death. From Twitter feeds to famous movie quotes and cameos, a Sylvia Plath mention is often shorthand for "tortured female writer." She's also an influence on modern writers of all kinds—Lena Dunham wrote a college essay comparing Plath and Alanis Morissette, and Joyce Carol Oates has written about her extensively.

Amazon's Best Black Friday Deals: Tech, Video Games, Kitchen Appliances, Clothing, and More

Amazon
Amazon

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Black Friday is finally here, and Amazon is offering great deals on kitchen appliances, tech, video games, and plenty more. We will keep updating this page as sales come in, but for now, here are the best Amazon Black Friday sales to check out.

Kitchen

Instant Pot/Amazon

- Instant Pot Duo Plus 9-in-115 Quart Electric Pressure Cooker; $90 (save $40)

- Keurig K-Cafe Special Edition; $190 (save $30)

- Ninja OS301 Foodi 10-in-1 Pressure Cooker and Air Fryer; $125 (save $75)

- Nespresso Vertuo Next Coffee and Espresso Machine by Breville; $120 (save $60)

- KitchenAid KSMSFTA Sifter with Scale Attachment; $95 (save $75)

- Keurig K-Mini Coffee Maker; $60 (save $20)

- Cuisinart Bread Maker; $80 (save $97)

- Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker; $139 (save $60)

- Aicook Juicer Machine; $35 (save $15)

- JoyJolt Double Wall Insulated Espresso Mugs - Set of Two; $14 (save $10)

- Longzon Silicone Stretch Lids - Set of 14; $16 (save $11)

- HadinEEon Milk Frother; $37 (save $33)

Home Appliances

Roomba/Amazon

- iRobot Roomba 675 Robot Vacuum with Wi-Fi Connectivity; $179 (save $101)

- ASAKUKI 500ml Premium Essential Oil Diffuser; $22 (save $4)

- Facebook Portal Smart Video Calling 10 inch Touch Screen Display with Alexa; $129 (save $50)

- Bissell air320 Smart Air Purifier with HEPA and Carbon Filters; $280 (save $50)

- Oscillating Quiet Cooling Fan Tower; $59 (save $31)

- TaoTronics PTC 1500W Fast Quiet Heating Ceramic Tower; $55 (save $10)

- Vitamix 068051 FoodCycler 2 Liter Capacity; $300 (save $100)

- Ring Video Doorbell; $70 (save $30)

Video games

Sony

- Marvel's Spider-Man: Game of The Year Edition for PlayStation 4; $20 (save $20)

- The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening; $40 (save $20)

- Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity; $50 (save $10)

- Marvel's Avengers; $25 (save $33)

- The Last of Us Part II for PlayStation 4; $30 (save $30)

- LEGO Harry Potter: Collection; $15 (save $15)

- Ghost of Tsushima; $40 (save $20)

- BioShock: The Collection; $20 (save $30)

- The Sims 4; $24 (save $20)

- God of Warfor PlayStation 4; $10 (save $10)

- Days Gonefor PlayStation 4; $20 (save $6)

- Luigi's Mansion 3 for Nintendo Switch; $40 (save $20)

Computers and tablets

Microsoft/Amazon

- New Apple MacBook Pro 16 inches with 512 GB; $2149 (save $250)

- Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 with 13.5 inch Touch-Screen; $1200 (save $400)

- Lenovo ThinkPad T490 Laptop; $889 (save $111)

- Amazon Fire HD 10 Tablet (64GB); $120 (save $70)

- Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition Tablet (32 GB); $130 (save $70)

- Apple iPad Mini (64 GB); $335 (save $64)

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Tech, gadgets, and TVs

Apple/Amazon

- Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS; $120 (save $79)

- Seneo Wireless Charger, 3 in 1 Wireless Charging Station; $16 (save $10)

- SAMSUNG 75-inch Class Crystal 4K Smart TV; $998 (save $200)

- Nixplay 2K Smart Digital Picture Frame 9.7 Inch Silver; $238 (save $92)

- All-New Amazon Echo Dot with Clock and Alexa (4th Gen); $39 (save $21)

- MACTREM LED Ring Light 6" with Tripod Stand; $16 (save $3)

- Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote; $28 (save $12)

- DR. J Professional HI-04 Mini Projector; $93 (save $37)

Headphones and speakers

Beats/Amazon

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- JBL Boombox; $280 (save $120)

Movies and TV

HBO/Amazon

- Game of Thrones: The Complete Series; $115 (save $89)

- Jurassic World 5-Movie Set; $23 (save $37)

- Deadwood: The Complete Series; $42 (save $28)

- Back to the Future Trilogy; $15 (save $21)

Toys and Games

Amazon

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- Exploding Kittens Card Game; $10 (save $10)

- Cards Against Humanity: Hidden Gems Bundle; $14 (save $5)

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Furniture

Casper/Amazon

- Casper Sleep Element Queen Mattress; $476 (save $119)

- ZINUS Alexis Deluxe Wood Platform Bed Frame; $135 (save $24)

- ROMOON Dresser Organizer with 5 Drawers; $59 (save $11) 

- AmazonBasics Room Darkening Blackout Window Curtains; $26 (save $5)

- Writing Desk by Caffoz; $119 (save $21)

- SPACE Seating Office Support Managers Chair; $112 (save $116)

- Rivet Globe Stick Table Lamp; $53 (save $17)

- Christopher Knight Home Merel Mid-Century Modern Club Chair; $188 (save $10)

- Walker Edison Furniture Industrial Rectangular Coffee Table; $121 (save $48)

Beauty

Haus/Amazon

- MySmile Teeth Whitening Kit with LED Light; $21 (save $12) 

- Cliganic USDA Organic Lip Balms Set of Six; $6 (save $4)

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- Native Deodorant for Men and Women Set of Three; $25 (save $11) 

- BAIMEI Rose Quartz Jade Roller & Gua Sha; $14 (save $3)

- Honest Beauty Clearing Night Serum with Pure Retinol and Salicylic Acid; $20 (save $8)

- WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo and Hair Conditioner Set; $30 (save $5) 

- La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel Cleanser; $15 (save $5)

- wet n wild Bretman Rock Shadow Palette; $9 (save $6)

- EltaMD UV Daily Tinted Face Sunscreen Moisturizer with Hyaluronic Acid; $25 (save $6)

Clothes

Ganni/Amazon

- Ganni Women's Crispy Jacquard Dress; $200 (save $86) 

- The Drop Women's Maya Silky Slip Skirt; $36 (save $9)

- Steve Madden Women's Editor Boot; $80 (save $30)

- adidas Women's Roguera Cross Trainer; $40 (save $25)

- Line & Dot Women's Elizabeth Sweater; $74 (save $18)

- Levi's Men's Sherpa Trucker Jacket; $57 (save $41)

- Adidas Men's Essentials 3-Stripes Tapered Training Joggers Sweatpants; $28 (save $12)

- Timex Men's Weekender XL 43mm Watch; $32 (save $20)

- Ray-Ban Unisex-Adult Hexagonal Flat Lenses Sunglasses; $108 (save $46) 

- Reebok Men's Flashfilm Train Cross Trainer; $64 (save $16)

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10 Famous Writers’ Houses Worth Visiting

Robert E. Nylund, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Robert E. Nylund, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

A writer’s home is a kind of autobiography, and visiting the place where a great work of literature was written gives you a deeper understanding of both the book and the person who wrote it. Here are some notable writers’ houses to check out.

1. Jack London’s Ranch // Glen Ellen, California

Besides being one of the most successful writers of his day, Call of the Wild author Jack London was also a dedicated rancher. London bought 1400 acres near Sonoma, California, and set up an experimental farm. He planted spineless cacti to feed his livestock, put in grain silos, and built a piggery so grand he called it the “pig palace.” You can visit the house where London lived and died, as well as the ruins of the three-story mansion that burned down just before he was set to move in. (The rock walls still stand in a redwood grove, not far from London's grave.)

2. John Steinbeck’s House // Salinas, California

Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men author Steinbeck grew up in this Victorian home and lived here as an adult in 1934 to care for his ailing mother. During that time, his successful novella The Red Pony was published. A restless child, Steinbeck never seemed comfortable with his middle-class upbringing and empathized with the migrant workers he saw in the vegetable fields around Salinas. The town appeared as the setting in many of his works, most notably East of Eden. Today, the home holds a restaurant located in what used to be Steinbeck’s parlor; the walls are decorated with Steinbeck family photos.

3. Mark Twain’s House // Hartford, Connecticut

Twain spent the happiest years of his life in this house with his wife and three daughters. He wrote seven major works here, including The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The house, which feels reminiscent of a Mississippi steamboat, cost a great deal of money and contributed to Twain’s financial problems late in life. The interior was designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany and has more than 10,000 objects from the Victorian era. There’s even a pool table in the study, right by Twain’s writing desk.

4. Ralph Waldo Emerson’s House // Concord, Massachusetts

Emerson lived in this house for 46 years until his death in 1882, and it acted as a transcendentalist headquarters. Visitors like Henry David Thoreau went in and out, sometimes staying in the guest room nicknamed the “Pilgrim’s Chamber.” Emerson wrote his essays Nature and Self-Reliance in a study on the first floor, although his son later said that Emerson’s “real study” was nearby Walden Woods.

5. Emily Dickinson House // Amherst, Massachusetts

Emily Dickinson was known as a recluse whose poetry was largely discovered after her death. But the house where she spent her life is a pleasant and bright one, with big windows and high ceilings. While most of the poet’s activities remain a mystery even today, you can see her bedroom where she wrote many of her nearly 2000 poems.

6. Edith Wharton’s Estate // Lenox, Massachusetts

Edith Wharton was rich. Very rich. The Mount, her palatial home, has 35 rooms, four floors, and acres of lush gardens. Wharton helped design the house according to the principles she laid out in her best-selling book The Decoration of Houses. Her good friend Henry James was a frequent guest. Wharton wrote The House Of Mirth at The Mount, usually working in the morning while lying in bed.

7. Margaret Mitchell’s Apartment // Atlanta, Georgia

The ultimate pilgrimage for Gone With The Wind fans has to be Margaret Mitchell’s house. Mitchell moved into Apartment Number 1 of this building—which she called "The Dump"—as a newlywed in 1925 and lived there for seven years. She worked on her epic novel on a table in the living room alcove that overlooks Crescent Avenue. Few people knew she was writing a book, which she considered a personal project. She worked on it sporadically until it was accepted for publication in 1935, forcing her to finish it up. The novel was a runaway hit.

8. Flannery O'Connor’s Andalusia Farm // Milledgeville, Georgia

Flannery O’Connor wanted to move away from the South, but when she was diagnosed with lupus, she moved to her mother’s dairy farm in 1951 and lived there until her death in 1964 at age 39. Since it was difficult for her to climb stairs, she slept in the downstairs living room, where she also wrote most of her published work. You can still see her manual typewriter and her crutches in the house. The more than 520 acre farm, with its ever-present peacocks, served as the setting for many of her short stories.

9. William Faulkner’s Rowan Oak // Oxford, Mississippi

Few authors are as known for evoking place as Faulkner is for writing about Oxford, Mississippi. Rowan Oak, his home for over 30 years, is where he wrote many of his major works, including Light in August. When Faulkner bought the house, it didn’t have running water or electricity. He spent many afternoons on home improvement projects, wiring the house himself and building the brick terrace outside. In his study, he sometimes wrote his complicated plot structures on the wall, then painted over them when he finished the book. In fact, you can still see the plot for his novel A Fable penciled on the wall right where he left it.

10. Ernest Hemingway’s House // Key West, Florida

Ernest Hemingway lived in this house from the time he married his second wife, Pauline, to when he ran off to Cuba with his third wife, Martha. It was the most productive eight years of his life. He wrote most of his major works in his office, which you could only get to by walking across a bridge that extended from the upstairs bedroom. Almost everything in the house had a story, from the urinal garden fountain to the monastery gate he used as a headboard to the six-toed cats he collected because he thought they were good luck. Today, over 40 cats still live on the estate, all said to be descendants of Hemingway’s original pets.