Wellesley remembers Sylvia Plath on the 91st anniversary of her birth

Today we remember Wellesley’s own Sylvia Plath in honor of the 91st anniversary of the birth of the Wellesley High School graduate, poet, novelist, short-story writer, and Pulitzer Prize winner. Born on Oct. 27, 1932 in Jamaica Plain, Plath was a the author of The Bell Jar, which is perpetually in print.

Plath was a scholar who did everything Wellesley demands of its brightest students — she studied, got straight As, and was heavily involved in the town. She went on to a top school, Smith College, known at the time as a Seven Sisters college. Plath then became one of the most influential poets and leading writers of the 20th century, and her name today always appears on lists of of poets who changed the genre. She is considered a leader in Confessional poetry, meaning that which focuses on the individual. Think of today’s popularity of memoir — the dots of influence connect back to Plath.

Sylvia Plath

Born October 27, 1932. Died February 11, 1963

Straight-A student at Wellesley High School, class of 1950.

Wrote for the Wellesley Junior High School paper; the Wellesley’s High School newspaper, The Bradford; and the Wellesley Townsman. 

Sylvia Plath quote about her WHS English teacher, Wilbury Crockett, who she referred to as the teacher of a lifetime: “If we discovered abilities or interests we never knew we had, it was he who awakened us to them, If we made dreams become reality, it was because of his daily encouragement, unceasing inspiration, rare wisdom, and insight.”

Sylvia Plath, yearbook entry
Sylvia Plath’s yearbook entry in The Wellesleyan, 1950

Lived at 26 Elmwood Road home (protected as a single-building Historic District house, and thus not in danger of becoming a Wellesley tear-down).

Graduated from Smith College, class of 1955.

One of the most influential poets and leading writers of the 20th century.

Pulitzer Prize winner of Collected Poems (1982, posthumously).

Author of The Bell Jar.

Married to English poet Ted Hughes in 1956. They separated in 1962. The couple had two children.

Died by suicide on February 11, 1963 in London.

More on Sylvia Plath’s high school years.

Famous Wellesley poets—Katharine Lee Bates; Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton