Friday, February 2, 2018

While Sylvia Went Missing, 1953

In the Daily Boston Globe newspapers of August 25 and 26, 1953, the search that used Boy Scouts, police and dogs to try to locate the "beautiful Smith girl missing at Wellesley" was front-page news. Peter K. Steinberg's research showed that news of Sylvia Plath's disappearance ran in newspapers all over the United States, but the source story sent over the national wire came from the Globe, the Plaths' hometown paper, and its reportage was from Wellesley. The Globe interviewed and quoted Plath's mother, Mrs. Aurelia Plath, on August 26, 1953:

"She [Sylvia] recently felt she was unworthy of the confidence held for her by the people she knew," Mrs. Plath said. "For some time she has been able to write neither fiction, or her more recent love, poetry. 

"Instead of regarding this as just an arid period that every writer faces at times, she believed something had happened to her mind, that it was unable to produce creatively anymore.

"Although her doctor assured us this was simply due to nervous exhaustion, Sylvia was constantly seeking for ways in which to blame herself for the failure and became increasingly despondent." 

This is the most complete version of this quotation. Other papers trimmed or summarized this quotation ("Mrs. Plath said her daughter had been depressed") -- because newspaper stories must fit their pages and fit among other stories.

Of particular interest is that the quotation calls poetry Plath's "more recent love."