Sylvia Plath began her life in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts on October 27, 1932. In Sylvia’s childhood, her father, Otto, died after an untreated case of diabetes. His suffering and prolonged illness scared the young Sylvia and heavily influenced her views of men in her life. Her distorted perception of the roles of men and women became the force behind her work, and later, the cause of her demise. 

Sylvia was an excellent student, and was accepted to Smith College on a scholarship in 1950. She tried to appear happy outwardly, but her reality was depression and thoughts of suicide. She was institutionalized after an attempted suicide in 1953 at Maclean Hospital. In 1955, Sylvia attended Newnham College at Cambridge University on a Fulbright scholarship. There she met Ted Hughes at a party in February 1956. They were married four months later in London. Soon after their honeymoon in Spain, Sylvia took a teaching position at Smith College, where she had studied a few years before. After a year of failure, in Sylvia’s view, she began to secretly see her therapist from her hospitalization at Maclean, Ruth Boucher. 

In 1959, Sylvia and Ted returned to England, as Sylvia was pregnant and due to give birth the following spring. During her pregnancy, she went under contract with William Heinemann Ltd. to publish The Colossus. A miscarriage the next year worsened Sylvia’s depression. In August 1961, the little family moved to a Devon farm, further isolating Sylvia, especially from Ted. Their second child, a son, was born in January of 1962. In July of that year, Sylvia discovered Ted’s affair with Assia Wevill. In September, Sylvia and Ted separated. By December, Sylvia and the children had moved into an apartment at 23 Fitzroy Road, the former home of William Butler Yeats. The Bell Jar was published under the pseudonym of Victoria Lucas in 1963. Then, on February 11, 1963, Sylvia committed suicide, killing herself by putting her head in a gas oven.

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