Sylvia Plath was one of the most dynamic and admired poets of the 20th century. By the time she took her life at the age of 30, Plath already had a following in the literary community. In the ensuing years her work attracted the attention of a multitude of readers, who saw in her singular verse an attempt to catalogue despair, violent emotion, and obsession with death. She let her writing express elemental forces and primeval fears. In doing so, she laid bare the contradictions that tore apart appearance and hinted at some of the tensions hovering just beneath the surface of the American way of life in the post war period. All the violence in her work returns to that violence of imagination, a frenzied brilliance and conviction. At her brutal best—and Plath is a brutal poet—she taps a source of power that transforms her poetic voice into a raving avenger of womanhood and innocence.
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Between February 18, , and February 4, , a week before Sylvia Plath committed suicide, at the age of thirty, she sent a series of candid letters to her close friend and former psychiatrist, Ruth Beuscher. Stymied by the Plath estate, Rosenstein never published the book, and the letters, unknown to the public, remained in her files. In , they were put up for sale by an American book dealer. Plath used letters, often brilliantly, to master appearances.
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She is credited with advancing the genre of confessional poetry and is best known for two of her published collections, The Colossus and Other Poems and Ariel , as well as The Bell Jar , a semi-autobiographical novel published shortly before her death. In The Collected Poems were published, including many previously unpublished works. For this collection Plath was awarded a posthumous Pulitzer Prize in Poetry in , making her the first to receive this honour posthumously.
Sylvia Plath published her first poem at age eight. She entered and won many literary contests. The couple separated in after Hughes had an affair. Controversy surrounded his editing practices, especially when he revealed that he had destroyed the last journals Plath had written before her suicide.