The life and work of Sylvia Plath has taken on the proportions of legend. Educated at Smith College, she had a conflicted relationship with her mother, Aurelia. She then married the poet Ted Hughes and plunged into the Sturm und Drang of literary celebrity. Her poems were fought over, rejected, accepted—and ultimately embraced by readers everywhere. At age thirty she committed suicide by putting her head in an oven while her children slept on the floor above in rooms she had sealed off from the poisonous gas. Ariel
, a collection of poems she wrote at white-hot speed during her final months, became a modern classic. Her novel, The Bell Jar
, has become a part of the literary canon, appearing on student reading lists worldwide. On the fiftieth anniversary of her death, Carl Rollyson gives us a new biography of Plath that shows her as a powerful figure who embraced both high and low culture to become the Marilyn Monroe of modern literature, a writer who wanted nothing less than to become central to the mythology of modern consciousness. American Isis
is the first biography of Sylvia Plath to use materials newly deposited in the Ted Hughes archive at the British Library—including forty-one letters between Plath and Hughes—to create a fresh and startling look at this American icon.