Sylvia Plath (lost unpublished work from American writer; 1963)

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Sylvia Plath.jpeg

Sylvia Plath in 1961.

Status: Lost

Sylvia Plath is known primarily for her Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry. However, She also wrote short stories and journals that were later posthumously published in both abridged and unabridged formats, and a novel, The Bell Jar, using the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. It was published under her real name posthumously. However, this is not the only one she wrote. One novel, Falcon Yard, was burned by Sylvia Plath herself. Double Exposure is said to have disappeared in 1970, and her last two journals are said to be missing or destroyed by her husband Ted Hughes.

Double Exposure

The missing novel titled Double Exposure was a novel for which little is known. Like The Bell Jar, it was reportedly going to be semi-autobiographical. Ted Hughes has cited figures of 60 or 70 pages up to as high as 130 pages. Plath's literary executor, Olwyn Hughes, said only two chapters were completed. The plot was said to revolve around a woman discovering her husband having an affair culminating in the husband's desertion of his family. Plath said it was a "dark comedy."[1]

Two Journals

According to Judith Kroll, the plan was an eventual estate sale to a university with the journals kept under seal for twenty-five years. Except for the final page.

By 1982 with the publication of the highly censored The Journals of Sylvia Plath, it seems that plans had changed:

...Two more notebooks survived for a while, maroon-backed ledgers like the ’57–’59 volume, and continued the record from late ’59 to within three days of her death. The last of these contained entries for several months, and I destroyed it because I did not want her children to have to read it (in those days I regarded forgetfulness as an essential part of survival). The other disappeared.

In 1998, Ted Hughes unsealed two of Plath's Journals held at Smith College. The two journals consist of material from August 1957 to November 1959.

By October 27, 2000, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath was published. Two-thirds of the material had never been previously published. Yet, the final two journals were nowhere to be found in the publication. The Preface repeats a variation of Ted Hughes's story he gave in the original publication. However, the Ted Hughes archive at Emory University, an unsent letter from 1990 to Jacqueline Rose suggests a very different story:

"...First you must believe me when I tell you — I have never told this to anyone — I hid the last journal, about two months of entries, to protect — possibly to my utter foolishness — somebody else..."[2]


Biographers speculated about a trunk at Emory University that was said to be sealed until 2023 or the lifetime of his last wife, Carol Hughes. It was discovered the trunk had been opened many years ago and much of the material was incorporated into the archive.

The missing Plath material wasn't among the contents.[3]

The whereabouts of Double Exposure and her last journals remain unknown.