Event exploring our knowledge of Sylvia Plath at 2013 Edinburgh Book Festival

This article is from 2013

Event exploring our knowledge of Sylvia Plath at 2013 Edinburgh Book Festival

Can we ever know the true Plath? Andrew Wilson investigates

Doting mother or fiercely driven artist; who is the ‘true’ Sylvia Plath? In the 50 years since she killed herself, the life of the American poet and novelist has become blurred. In Mad Girl’s Love Song: Sylvia Plath and Life Before Ted, Andrew Wilson aims 'to show a Plath who was a real living, breathing woman who existed at a particular time in history; a writer and a woman in her own right'. Researching 'the largest chunk of Plath’s life', before she met Ted Hughes, he 'unearthed a mass of unpublished material (diaries, letters, photos) and talked to lots of friends and lovers who had never spoken publicly about Plath before'. For all this delving, he uncovered a familiar 1950s tale of repression and self-loathing: 'On the surface she presented herself as a smiling, respectable all-American girl but underneath she was a mass of anger and sexual frustrations. She also felt a great deal of anger about constrained gender roles and her economic situation.'

Charlotte Square Gardens, 0845 373 5888, 16 Aug, reading workshop on The Bell Jar, 1pm, £15 (£13); Andrew Wilson event , 5pm, £10 (£8).

Andrew Wilson

Before she met Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath had lived a complex, creative and disturbing life. Following her death in 1963, Hughes was the guardian and literary executor of her work and was, in effect, responsible for how she has been perceived by generations. Andrew Wilson explores the woman before the haunting poetry and…