The Atlantic

There Are Almost No Obituaries for Sylvia Plath

A biographer explains the 'The Bell Jar' author's unusually quiet death 50 years ago

A conversation with a Plath biographer about the acclaimed poet and The Bell Jar author's unusually quiet death 50 years ago

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Sylvia Plath

This week, I went on a hunt for some obituaries of Sylvia Plath. To my surprise, I couldn't find any.

At the time of her death by suicide—50 years ago, on February 11, 1963—she was a published novelist and an acclaimed poet; beyond that, she was also a statuesque, stylish American married to the celebrated English poet Ted Hughes. Surely there had to be some written public remembrance, on one side of the Atlantic or the other, of an author who'd done readings of her work at Harvard and for the BBC. But, no: I couldn't unearth a single piece of news about the death of Sylvia Plath.

Before long, I found that Peter K. Steinberg, author of the 2004 biography , had encountered the same problem when he wrote on Plath's first suicide attempt in 1953. At age 20, Plath had swallowed 40 sleeping pills and gone to sleep in a crawl space in her family's basement, only to be found two days later and hospitalized. The media

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