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This item is taken from PN Review 217, Volume 40 Number 5, May - June 2014.

Letters from Peter K. Steinberg, Graham Roe and John Lucas
Sylvia Plath

Sir:
There are a number of errors in Mary Jo Bang’s review of Sylvia Plath: Drawings (PNR 216). In paragraph 3, Bang claims Plath would be ‘seventy-one today’ had she lived. Plath was born in 1932; she would be, today, 81 years old. In paragraph 8, Bang writes ‘forty years after her mother’s tragic demise’; however, it has now been 51 years since Plath’s death. In the last paragraph, Bang writes, ‘The only problem is that there is nothing in the book that isn’t available elsewhere.’ However, the letter from Plath to Ted Hughes was unpublished and I believe there are no instances where it has been quoted. Also, Bang claims that the drawings were ‘sold at auction in November 2011’; however, this is not the case. The letters were simply sold in an exhibition in a London art gallery (The Mayor, Cork Street).

peter k. steinberg
Boston, Massachusetts


Mary Jo Bang replies:

I am mortified by my mathematical blunders. And mortified also by my mis­understanding of what was auctioned at the Mayor Gallery. As Peter Steinberg points out, I wrongly conflated the sale of the letters with the exhibition of the prints.

In terms of the Plath letter to Hughes, I apparently misremembered reading some of the contents. The fact is, everything in the letter sounded very familiar to me. Over the years, like many who admire Plath’s work, I’ve read countless biographies. After a while, it becomes difficult to remember who ...


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