Frances Wilson

A Sketch in the Margin

Eye Rhymes: Sylvia Plath’s Art of the Visual


Oxford University Press 269pp £25 order from our bookshop

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.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'One of the reasons for its longevity is that it has virtually nothing to say about science and technology at all,… ,
    • 'The characters in many of these stories are trapped in the obsessive present tense of their own thoughts; in the m… ,
    • 'Libraries, for much of their existence, have embodied in microcosm many of the characteristics of the totalitarian… ,
    • 'Moss and Cynthia buy several properties through which to launder their ill-gotten gains, take lots of drugs, have… ,
    • 'Never mind the imperial cult. This is the cult of Boris. What happened to Rome?' From the LR archive:… ,
    • Thirty-two years ago this month, we published Muriel Spark's short story, 'A Playhouse Called Remarkable' Read it… ,
    • Time travel, bicycles and white horses populate @WomackPhilip's roundup of children's books by @marcussedgwick,… ,