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Letters Home

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  1,863 ratings  ·  49 reviews
Letters Home represents Sylvia Plath's correspondence from her time at Smith College in the early fifties, through her meeting with, and subsequent marriage to, the poet Ted Hughes, up to her death in February 1963. The letters are addressed mainly to her mother, with whom she had an extremely close and confiding relationship, but there are also some to her brother Warren ...more
Paperback, 502 pages
Published January 1st 1999 by Faber & Faber (first published January 1st 1975)
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When I started this I was not at all sure whether I wanted to read it. I liked The Bell Jar, but it could just have been the time I read it. I do not get her poetry. Cult of the personality stuff makes me uncomfortable. Doesn't she deserve to be laid to rest, anyway. Blah.

BUT! I read the first couple of letters and was sucked in. It seems like she used her letters in a similar way that I use my diary, so I felt as if I was right in her life. And although the events of her life in September 1950
The disparity between her bleak poetry and these almost desperately cheerful letters to her mother is heartbreaking.
Mothers/daughter relationships--unless you're part of the duo, you'll never, ever get it. My boyfriend does, my brother doesn't--my father gets us both, but even he doesn't get us "together." As far as I can tell, how do you co-exist with someone you love, admire, hate, hope the best for/worst for? How do you take someone seriously you've known since they were in diapers? And likewise, how do you take someone seriously that you've spent your whole life working to "out do"? Mothers and daughters ...more
Plath transcribes her life in a typically beautiful way, and it's such a joy to read about her daily thoughts and events of whatever day she found herself on. A lovely book comprised of both harrowing and glistening correspondences between Sylvia and (mostly) her mother. It's very sad to picture Sylvia in despair and thinking of no way to get out of it other than retaining her usual visits to her typewriter, but if she didn't we wouldn't have Letters Home and we'd probably feel that much further ...more
Sylvia Plath's Letters Home juxtaposed against her Unabridged Journals is a fascinating study. The face she showed to Mummy in her letters versus what was truly happening in her life and mind is heartbreaking and reminds me of the importance in my own heavy depression struggle of being as true as I can to all the people in my life, so that they might see me and pull me into light when I start to fail. Her letters are almost manic in their tales of the mad joy she supposedly found while away at c ...more
I've read parts of this book before a very long time ago, so I'm pleased that I've finally gotten around to reading it all the way through now. Sylvia's letters to her family (mainly her mother) exude all the anxiety and excitement of youth, so it was fascinating to get a rare glimpse into Sylvia's personality and how she conducted herself, dealt with her relationships and friendships, and her drive to succeed in her studies. Obviously because she killed herself, the reader can't stop themselves ...more
Jul 06, 2008 Ruth added it
What mother doesn't want to think that the self a child presents to her in chatty letters home is the child's True Self?
so good, I gained a new respect for her as a writer or person. she seemed to embrace life; she was just fragile.
Toni Wu
Katie Dreyer
Having read these letters in such a short period of a time, I feel somewhat bereft without them. Much like Sylvia's mother must have, I've come to rely on reading a letter from Sylvia almost everyday. This is truly an amazing collection. Nearly all of the letters are written to her mother, Aurelia, who edited the volume and provides introductions to each section. I readily identified with Sylvia, especially in her early years at Smith when she attempted to excel in her classes while maintaining ...more
This book was melancholy and emotional in a way that Plath's journals, and even a lot of her poetry, was not for me. Perhaps it is the fresh-faced optimism that washes over the early letters and the beginning stages of Plath's marriage, or perhaps it is the truthfulness with which these are recorded and told by Plath's mother, Aurelia, that makes them so thought provoking. Regardless, these letters offer a wholly different perspective on the bitch-goddess and helpless woman that we are inclined ...more
After reading The Bell Jar, I just had to know more about Sylvia Plath. After finishing The Bell Jar, I felt hopeful for the main character, who is thinly disguised as Sylvia herself. I wanted to know how the hopeful ending turned into suicide. Reading Letters Home felt like a voyeuristic journey into Plath's life, but I was fascinated by her and how she could reach such despair. The end to Letters Home left me questioning why she decided to remove herself from this world. However, I felt like I ...more
I am so glad I read this book. All the biographies, poetry and anything you can get your hands on about Sylvia Plath emphasizes her anger, depression, and insecurities. This was so different. Reading these letters home to her mother from the time she was at Smith until right before her death show so many sides of her personality- her love of her children, her husband, traveling, writing. What struck me most about these letters was her strong spirit. She was determined to make it through the most ...more
Anne Nikoline
Nov 13, 2012 Anne Nikoline rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: any Plath fans
Recommended to Anne Nikoline by: all the Plath fans
Is there is one thing Sylvia Plath has taught me, it is that she never fails to entertain with her sad, sad story and her stunning, stunning writing; in my opinion she is without doubt an overlooked treasure when it comes to poetry; I have no idea how she did it, but no matter what she did with words, she always managed to make out the most beautiful picture of emotions and senses.

Letters Home by Sylvia Plath, states a seventeen years old girl who started writing lots of letters home to her mot
Found this in Marjon's library. Remember sitting down to have a skim through and then just being instantly caught up in her letters. Great to read and see how she worked and the stories she told about herself.
'Letters Home', a collection of Sylvia Plath's letters to her mother, brother and sponsor, could easily be mistaken for an epistolary novel. The letters are further evidence of Plath's intelligence, ambition and vulnerability, and showcase the development of her poetic voice in a very interesting and personal way. They tell a slightly different side of the story to that which is presented in Plath's own journals and in the biographies of her (the letters are often cheerful and optimistic, even w ...more
Alison Whiteman
I read this in college. Sylvia's struggles with bipolar disorder are not clearly addressed in this book as much as in her private journals.

I could not decide if it was her mental illness that lead to her suicide or her philandering husband, Ted Hughes. Either way, we lost her far too early.

Hughes did publish work after her death but it does not compare to the caliber of talent she shared with the world.

I also wonder about the future collection of letters and journals from authors in this digi
Mar 10, 2014 Olivia added it
Reading this (and the journals, even) next to the comparably TRULY candid poetry is something.
I wonder if Aurelia Plath left out any letters that did not reflect her daughter's life as 'Mommy' wanted to see 'Sivvy'? Probably not. Self-censoring (and self-promotion of an ideal, fake self) had clearly become Plath's habit. Growing up in the American Fifties was difficult, what with so much emphasis on the requirment for females to appear perfect: perfectly lovely, perfectly cheery, perfectly whatever. This mother-daughter relationship seems to have been especially relentless in that respec ...more
Ellen Puccinelli
I read this book about two million times when I was in college and then tried to write my own mother similar letters describing my fabulous college days. I am fascinated by Sylvia Plath, as are so many people -- so talented and beautiful, and such a tragic life in so many ways. Reading these letters, you see so clearly the different aspects of Sylvia's personality and her competing impulses. It seems to me that she tried so hard to live. These letters are some of her best writing in many ways -- ...more
How completely sad Plath was...and she was so hard on herself....
Anyone with a particular interest in the life of Sylvia Plath (like me) would be intrigued by this book. It is a biography but it consists mainly of Sylvia's own letters to family and friends and, as she was such a voracious letter-writer, it is basically an autobiography also. The book gives tremendous insight into her life and eventual demise and is deeply personal. I really enjoyed it, although it left me quite upset.
Sarah Hackley
Aug 13, 2008 Sarah Hackley rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: women writers, and all women interested in a study of real women's lives
Recommended to Sarah by: N/A
The Sylvia Plath depicted in these letters is often an optimistic one. A close read, however, reveals the too-optimistic tones underlying some letters in an attempt to make her mother feel things are better than they are. Overall, a fascinating read - I couldn't put it down! Am anxiously awaiting reading her journals in an attempt to fill in the emotions implied but never explained during her last letters to her mother.
Sylvia Plath's letters to her mother are in some ways revealing and others guarded. Mother and daughter didn't have the easiest relationship, although in many ways, Sylvia appeared to be the average Southern girl. Her letters tell of the high expectations of herself, her naive adoration of her husband, Ted Hughes, and her ultimate dissatisfaction with her life. A must-read to understand The Bell Jar.
Well ... it gives the reader a good insight in the mechanisms of this truly difficult mother-daughter relationship :
Mother is a b.... and daughter suffers an inflated sense of entitlement .
But she did know that already, didn't she ?
"I think writers are the most narcissistic people. Well, I mustn't say this, I like many of them, a great many of my friends are writers."
Hater Shepard
I have no idea why I'm reading this. I pulled it out of the dumpster.


a sort of pharyngeal exerciser. I do like books of correspondences of everyone from E Hemingway and E Pound and TS Eliot to Adams-Jefferson (some of the best ever) and Flaubert.

In any case I'll put it back out with the garbage tomorrow night
Everett Darling
I found by reading her poems in chronological order alongside these letters home, a clearer rendering of Plath´s world, or worlds, surfaces. Her letters home were often painfully cheerful and optimistic, it felt somehow unreal standing up against such dark poetry.
These are my favorite things that Sylvia Plath wrote. Her letters home show what an insecure, smart, and timid girl she was, most of the time. Anyway that's what I got out of them. I enjoy her letters to her mother more than any of her poetry.
Apr 13, 2008 Laura marked it as to-read
I am in love with this woman. Sylvia Plath was absolutly brilliant, despite what people say about her. If she had written what she did without people knowing that she was depressed and a woman, people would think much higher of her.
I did this as a Readers Theatre at Spotlight when I first moved here 5 years ago. I was Sylvia. I think 10 people were in the audience, but it was amazing to play her. The letters are heartbreaking. A good companion to the Bell Jar.
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Sylvia Plath was an American poet, novelist, and short story writer.

Known primarily for her poetry, Plath also wrote a semi-autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar, under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. The book's protagonist, Esther Greenwood, is a bright, ambitious student at Smith College who begins to experience a mental breakdown while interning for a fashion magazine in New York. The plot paralle
More about Sylvia Plath...
The Bell Jar Ariel The Collected Poems The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath The Colossus and Other Poems

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