How many more Sylvia Plaths do we need? There is the savvy daughter reporting back on her triumphs as a Cambridge scholar in Letters Home, the dark, threshold figure who wrote about her breakdown in The Bell Jar, the loving mother of poems like ‘Morning Song’ and ‘Nick and the Candlestick’, the selfish mother of poems like ‘Edge’, the good wife who adored Ted Hughes, the bad wife who drove him away, the brilliant poet, the never good-enough poet, the feminist victim whose grave is desecrated by her fans, the mythical heroine idolised by sixth-form girls, the strong woman who killed herself, the weak woman who killed herself. Biography after biography, memoir after memoir, are churned out; the strangest aspect of Plath’s wretchedly short life is that it draws in so many people who want to relive it for her.
Had she not put her head inside the oven in Primrose Hill some forty years ago, Plath would have celebrated her seventy-fifth birthday this year. By way of commemorating the anniversary, two Plath scholars, Kathleen Connors and Sally Bayley, have brought out a collection of sixty doodles, sketches, pictures, paintings,