Hi, I'm Heather Kamins for About.com, and I'm here to talk to you about Sylvia Plath.Plath was born in 1932 in the Boston suburb of Jamaica Plain. She experienced both triumph and heartbreak at the early age of 8: her first poem was published in the Boston Herald's children's section, but her father Otto died from complications of diabetes. Plath would attend Smith College, and she made a great academic impression there. She was invited to be a guest editor of Mademoiselle magazine but that experience turned out to be disappointing. And combined with a rejection from a writing program at Harvard, these experiences led to her first suicide attempt through sleeping pills.Plath went on to have to a Fulbright Scholarship in Cambridge. It was there that she met her future husband, poet Ted Hughes. The two had pursued a passionate and intense romance, and they married in 1956. After that, they returned to America where Plath wrote full-time. Fellow poets such as Anne Sexton encouraged her to write more from her personal life, and she took the advice to heart. Themes of death, resurrection, and later, mental illness, suffused her work.Sylvia's first poetry collection, The Colossus, came out in 1961. That same year, she began working on her autobiographical novel called The Bell Jar. Unfortunately, despite her literary success, Plath failed to find happiness in her life. And she and Hughes split after she discovered Hughes was pursuing an affair. Many self-described suicide attempts followed that. Plath's poetry was reaching its full potential in 1962, despite the responsibilities of single motherhood.These poems she wrote around this time were the sharpest and most incisive of her career. Twenty-six of those poems went on into her posthumous collection Ariel. Here are two stanzas from one of her most famous poems, "Lady Lazarus":Dying Is an art, like everything else.I do it exceptionally well.I do it so it feels like hell.I do it so it feels real.I guess you could say I've a call.Plath died in early 1963 after turning the gas on her oven and asphyxiating. Ted Hughes was still her legal husband at that point, and he would go on to publish more volumes of her poetry and journals. Her poems have been regarded as milestones in American literature. She even went on to win a Pulitzer Prize in 1982, and she was the first poet to receive the award after their death.Thanks for watching. To learn more, visit us on the web at About.com.
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