The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Volume II: 1956-1963 – review

A second hefty tome of Sylvia Plath’s letters is striking only for the poet’s extraordinary correspondence with her psychiatrist

When the first volume of The Letters of Sylvia Plath appeared last September, its chief virtue – its only virtue, in my view – was that tucked into its massive bulk were the 16 love letters Plath wrote to Ted Hughes in 1956, the year of their marriage. These notes, so marvellously lucent, did not make the rest of the project – in essence, the publication of dozens upon dozens of quotidian and repetitive letters to Plath’s mother, Aurelia – much more worthwhile; at more than 1,400 pages, the collection as a whole seemed to me to be of interest only to desperate PhD students and snouty scholars. But still, they were quite something, their radiance emitting just a little of Plath’s talents as a poet; her awe that such a ...