NEW POETRY The New Poetry. A Selection Selected and Introduced by A. Alvarez, FIRST EDITION, SYLVIA PLATH'S COPY, INSCRIBED TO HER WITH A DRAWING BY TED HUGHES, AND MARKED UP BY PLATH, Penguin Books, 1962
Lot 355
NEW POETRY
The New Poetry. A Selection Selected and Introduced by A. Alvarez, FIRST EDITION, SYLVIA PLATH'S COPY, INSCRIBED TO HER WITH A DRAWING BY TED HUGHES, AND MARKED UP BY PLATH, Penguin Books, 1962
Sold for £ 6,875 (US$ 9,217) inc. premium

Lot Details
The Property of Frieda Hughes
NEW POETRY
The New Poetry. A Selection Selected and Introduced by A. Alvarez, FIRST EDITION, SYLVIA PLATH'S COPY, INSCRIBED TO HER WITH A DRAWING BY TED HUGHES, AND MARKED UP BY PLATH, half-title with Plath's name and Devon address in her own hand, above a large drawing by Hughes of a crowned serpent (incorporating the inscription "For Sylvia All My Love Ted") with its tail trailing past the sun with a rain cloud and flash of lightning either side, stars and the moon near the serpent's head, publisher's wrappers [Sagar/Tabor B11], 8vo, Penguin Books, 1962

Footnotes

  • SYLVIA PLATH'S COPY OF THE NEW POETRY, a presentation copy from Ted Hughes, with the inscription "For Sylvia All My Love Ted" incorporated into an ink drawing. Plath has written her name and address "Court Green, North Tawton, Devon" on the half-title, and underlined or highlighted passages in Alvarez's introduction with her characteristic star symbol.

    Al Alvarez was the influential poetry editor for The Observer, an enthusiastic early champion of Hughes, describing him as "a poet of the first importance" in his review of Lupercal (1960), and including more of his poems (twenty-one) in his anthology than any other poet. Sylvia Plath is mentioned briefly in the prefatory note but her poems were not included in The New Poetry. Alvarez had been cautiously positive in his review of her Colossus, but in later years he stated "I think Plath has turned out to be a much better poet than Hughes ever was... Sylvia had that one extraordinary year where she wrote non-stop. At that point she shot ahead... the stuff she was writing in the last year of her life is absolutely extraordinary" (Granta, interview, March 2013).

    The book was published in April 1962, at a time when Sylvia and Ted were living at Court Green, three months after the birth of Nicholas, and three months before Sylvia wrote to her mother revealing that she was considering a legal separation from Ted. She has underlined or "starred" twenty passages in the introduction, including such lines as "the poet's ability and willingness to face the full range of his experience with full intelligence; not to take the easy exits", and praise for Lowell and Berryman for their ability to deal "openly with the quick of their experience, experience sometimes on the edge of disintegration and breakdown".
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