WITH THE NAME SYLVIA
Sylvia Plath was the much lauded and tormented poet and author of The Bell Jar, who tragically took her own life at the age of thirty. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, she was the daughter of a professor of German and biology, Otto, and his wife, Aurelia Schober Plath, whom he met while she was his masterâ€™s student at Boston University. Otto died when Sylvia was only eight years old, and this seems to have had a profound effect upon the rest of her life. Sylvia was ambitious and driven from the start, writing poetry and journals from an early age. Along with her literary proliferation, Sylvia suffered from bouts of depression and attempted suicide, enduring psychotherapy and electroshock treatments. In 1952, she won the magazine Mademoiselleâ€™s fiction contest, earning her a place as a guest editor for a month the following year, out of which grew her experiences as related in The Bell Jar. Upon graduation from Smith College, she matriculated at Cambridge University in England, where she met and married, in 1956, the man who was to later become Englandâ€™s Poet Laureate, Ted Hughes. Together they embarked upon a golden future of love and poetry, which, as is well documented, fell into ashes before many years passed. While happy about giving birth to her daughter and son, Sylvia was nonetheless still subject to depressions, a state that was not at all helped by Tedâ€™s affair with another woman, for whom he left Sylvia and the children. Deeply awash in her own sorrows, Sylvia committed suicide by oven-gassing herself in her little London flat on February 11, 1963, while her small children slept in a sealed-off bedroom close by. Her prolific output remains to offer some consolation for a life cut so short, but the tragedy of that suicide seems to have recreated itself over again. In 1969, the woman for whom Ted Hughes left Sylvia, Assia Welville, killed herself and their four year old daughter. In 2009, one of those little children in the bedroom, her son, Nicholas, killed himself at the age of 47. In 1970, Ted Hughes married again, to Carol Orchard; they remained married until his death in 1998 and they had no children. Months before Sylvia committed suicide, Ted Hughes wrote to a family member that no one seemed to understand â€œSylviaâ€™s particular death-rayâ€, which apparently made it â€œâ€¦ impossible for me to live married to.â€ Indeed.