"Not Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Sillitoe": Sylvia Plath and Ruth Fainlight in the 1960s

Heather Clark

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Heather Clark Sylvia Plath has often been twinned with Anne Sexton, whom she met in Robert Lowell’s 1959 creative writing seminar in Boston, and whose work elicited Plath’s admiration and jealousy. Sexton’s poetry, as many critics have observed, was a major influence on Plath. The poets’ triple martini afternoons at the Boston Ritz are now legend, but according to Sexton herself, she and Plath never became close. The poem “Sylvia’s Death,” Sexton wrote in 1966, “makes everyone think I knew her well, when I only knew her death well” (“The Barfly Ought to Sing” 92) . Less storied but equally important is Plath’s literary friendship with Ruth Fainlight. Like Plath, Fainlight was an American of Eastern European heritage married to a famous writer from the North of England; a devotee of Robert Graves; and a poet who hoped to combine writing and motherhood.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Bloomsbury Handbook to Sylvia Plath
EditorsAnita Helle, Amanda Golden, Maeve O'Brien
PublisherBloomsbury Publishing
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781350119239, 9781350119246
ISBN (Print)9781350119222
Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2022


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