Jennie M Robinson Memorial Maternity Building

Otto Emil Plath and Aurelia Schober Plath had their first child, Sylvia Plath, on October 27, 1932. Sylvia Plath was born at Massachusetts Memorial Hospital in the Jennie M Robinson Memorial maternity building in Boston, Massachusetts. Little did her parents know that their daughter would later become a prodigious poet, writer, and novelist. Sylvia’s first home was located in Jamaica Plain, Boston. Four years later, the family moved to Winthrop, Massachusetts, which was east of Boston. Otto Plath taught at Boston University when he lived in Winthrop. Plath was an expert on bees and even wrote a book called Bumblebees and Their Ways, which was published in 1935. After the birth of his son Warren in 1935, he fell ill. A week and a half after Sylvia’s eighth birthday, Otto Plath passed away. His cause of death was diabetes mellitus, which was a very curable disease at the time. His death was detrimental to the Plath family. Two years after her husband’s death, Aurelia Plath moved the family to to Wellesley, Massachusetts. Sylvia lived in Wellesley up to her college years. She repeated the fifth grade so that she would be the same age as other students in her class.

Throughout her high school years, she was an excellent student. She aced her courses and even made straight A’s all four years. Plath was esepcially talented when it came to English and creative writing. Her first poem appeared when she was only eight years old in the Boston Herald. Plath would later attend Smith College, an all girls’ school in Northampton, Massachusetts. She won a scholarship there and was overjoyed to start school in the fall of 1950. Sylvia’s benefactress for her scholarship was a famous author named Olive Higgins Prouty. Prouty lived in a suburb of Boston that was near Wellesley. Prouty and Plath remained friends for their whole lives. Plath always kept a journal around, which she relied on for inspiration and documentation. She had a quick, sharp eye and noticed details that most people simply passed up. Her journal became her most trusted friend, telling it secrets and presenting her real self on the pages. Plath also wrote down ideas for poems and stories. There is even an entry about her picking her nose.

During the early years of Plath’s college life, she wrote measured and pretty poems. Though she had the craft of making poems, she did not have the voice. She was very organized and worked herself to perfection. Plath sought to write short stories for women’s magazines and other influential 1950’s magazines. In 1950, she began publishing in national periodicals and in 1953, she wrote articles for local newspapers. Sadly, Plath became very depressed in college and returned to Wessely with her mother. She couldn’t concentrate on her studies and became behaving abnormally. Plath’s mother tried to nurture her as much as possible during this difficult time. Her mother took her to a psychiatrist who prescribed electric shocks, but it did not help. On August 24, 1953, she attempted suicide. She broke into the medical box in her home, entered a crawl space in her home, and consumed forty sleeping pills. She was discovered alive and spent the next six months in psychiatric care. By April 1954, she had recovered enough to continue writing and went back to college. In January 1955, she submitted her thesis and graduated from Smith with highest honors in June 1955. Afterwards, she went to England to study at Newnham College under Cambridge University. She continued to write and her work continued to be published.

In 1956, she married Ted Hughes. Together, they had two children named Frieda and Nicholas. In 1962, Hughes had left her. Therefore, she was left alone and became very depressed again. On February 11, 1963, Plath placed her head in a gas oven after sealing all the rooms in her house, therefore committing suicide. Plath was buried in Heptonstall, England less than a week after her death. Plath received two awards in her lifetime: the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and Glascock Prize.