Sylvia Plath was one of the most gifted and innovative poets of the twentieth century, yet serious study of her work has often been hampered by a fierce preoccupation with her life and death. Tim Kendall seeks to redress the balance in his detailed and dispassionate examination of her poetry. Taking a roughly chronological structure, he traces the unique nature of Plath's poetic gift, finding - with reference to "Letters Home", "The Bell Jar", "The Journals" and the stories and autobiographical reminiscences - an essential unity in her inspiration, tracing the evolution of recurring themes and at the same time exhibiting her accelerated development from the formal restraint of "The Colossus" through to the ground-breaking techniques of "Ariel". He shows that Plath was a poet constantly remaking herself, experimenting with different styles, forms and subject matter.
Sylvia Plath (1932-63) was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and studied at Smith College. In 1955 she went to Cambridge University on a Fulbright scholarship, where she met and later married Ted Hughes. She published one collection of poems in her lifetime, The Colossus (1960), and a novel, The Bell Jar (1963). Her Collected Poems, which contains her poetry written from 1956 until her death, was published in 1981 and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry.