Sylvia Plath Biography

Sylvia Plath, a renowned and influential poet of the twentieth century, is known for her contributions to confessional poetry. Born in the early 1930s in the United States, Plath began writing at a young age and achieved early success with her publications. Despite facing rejection, she persevered and went on to marry Ted Hughes and relocate to England. Plath continued to write and published her first book of poems at the age of twenty-eight. Tragically, she took her own life at the age of thirty, leaving behind a legacy of powerful and introspective works.

Quick Facts

  • Died At Age: 30
  • Family: Spouse/Ex-: Ted Hughes, father: Aurelia Schober Plath, mother: Otto Plath, siblings: Warren, children: Frieda Hughes, Nicholas Hughes
  • Born Country: United States
  • Died on: February 11, 1963
  • Place of death: Primrose Hill, London, England
  • Ancestry: German American, Austrian American
  • Notable Alumni: Newnham College, Cambridge
  • City: Boston
  • U.S. State: Massachusetts
  • Cause of Death: Suicide
  • Epitaphs: Even amidst fierce flames the golden lotus can be planted
  • Education: Smith College, Newnham College, Cambridge
  • Awards: 1947 – The Scholastic Art & Writing Award, 1982 – Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, 1955 – Glascock Prize

Childhood & Early Life

Sylvia Plath was born on October 27, 1932, in Boston, Massachusetts. Her father, Otto Emil Plath, was a professor of biology at the Boston University. Her mother, Aurelia Frances Plath (née Schober), was a student of Otto Plath at the Boston University. Sylvia was the eldest of her parents’ two children. In 1936, the family moved to Winthrop, where Sylvia’s father died when she was just eight years old. This event had a profound impact on Sylvia, causing her to lose faith in God and turn to writing as a way to cope with her grief. She had her first poem published in the children’s section of the ‘Boston Herald’ in 1941, and continued to write poems and journals throughout her childhood.

College Years

After graduating from high school in 1950, Sylvia Plath attended Smith College on a scholarship, where she majored in English. She was an exceptional student and became the editor of ‘The Smith Review’. In 1952, she won Mademoiselle’s college fiction contest and was selected as a guest editor for the magazine. During this time, she struggled with depression and attempted suicide. She spent six months in psychiatric care and eventually recovered enough to resume writing. She submitted her thesis and graduated from Smith with highest honors in 1955. She then went to England to study at Newnham College under Cambridge University on a Fulbright scholarship.


After returning to the USA in 1957, Sylvia Plath joined Smith College as a faculty member. However, the job left her with little time and energy for writing, which added to her frustration. She began to struggle with depression once again. Despite her struggles, she continued to write and publish her poems in various magazines. In 1960, her first book of poems, ‘The Colossus and Other Poems’, was published. She also began working on her semi-autobiographical novel, ‘The Bell Jar’. In 1962, she separated from her husband Ted Hughes and continued to write. However, her mental health deteriorated and she tragically took her own life on February 11, 1963.

Personal Life & Legacy

Sylvia Plath married Ted Hughes in 1956 and they had two children together. However, their marriage was tumultuous and they separated in 1962. Plath struggled with depression throughout her life and ultimately succumbed to it. Her death had a profound impact on the literary world and she is now considered one of the most influential poets of the 20th century. In 1982, she was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her book ‘The Collected Poems’. Plath’s legacy continues to inspire and resonate with readers around the world.

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