Elspeth Barker

Growing Pains

Mad Girl’s Love Song: Sylvia Plath and Life Before Ted

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Simon & Schuster 438pp £20 order from our bookshop

Ted and I: A Brother’s Memoir

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The Robson Press 217pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

In this addition to the mass of Plath-related writings, Andrew Wilson’s avowed purpose is to trace the origins of her instability, using primary sources – unpublished letters, journals and the testimony of friends, many of whom are looking back over sixty, even seventy years. His findings are bolstered by cross-references to her work, and he makes a good case for the power of unpublished early poems and short stories and their intensely autobiographical content. He identifies three ‘real, disquieting muses’, whose malign influence was apparent from Sylvia’s childhood, the first and most important being the personal – her relationships with her parents, friends and, overwhelmingly, with herself.

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