An Exhibition Offers a Visual Biography of Sylvia Plath, Including Her Little-Known Art by Allison Meier / Hyperallergic

Elinor Friedman Klein, Sylvia Plath with typewriter in Yorkshire (September 1956) (Mortimer Rare Book Room, Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts)

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery is opening a visual biography of the author Sylvia Plath, including her rarely-seen artwork.

“Since her suicide in 1963 at the age of 30, Sylvia Plath’s literary recognition has only grown, whether the ubiquitous assignment of her lone novel The Bell Jar in American high schools, or her posthumous Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1982. Yet the shroud of her young death has meant she is often perceived solely from that moment, as a tortured writer who channeled her depression into confessional prose and verse, when her identity was much more complex. Her image was something she constantly augmented as she juggled being an author, mother, wife, and artist, in an era that was societally restrictive for women.”