Mortimer Rare Book Room History

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Sylvia Plath

The most-heavily used items in the Mortimer Rare Book Room are the papers, books, and photographs in the Sylvia Plath Collection. The bulk of the collection was purchased in 1981 from the Estate of Sylvia Plath (Smith College class of 1955); much more has been added over the years through purchases and gifts. Poems written in successive drafts are frequently consulted by students and outside scholars. Plath’s initial handwritten draft of “Cut” was written on Smith College pink memorandum paper. Researchers also can consult items such as Plath’s 1962 engagement calendar with her entries about daily activities, meal planning, and childcare arrangements. Smith also owns books from Plath’s personal library, her handwritten and typed journals, and many other materials.

Plath dated many of the drafts of her poems which appear in her posthumous collection Ariel; Cut bears the date October 24, 1962, just about a week after the official opening of the Rare Book Room at Smith. Certainly Plath never imagined that her papers would be housed in special collections at her alma mater (the College Archives also has Plath-related items). Plath wrote 29 of the 55 poems eventually included in Ariel during October 1962. Smith’s Plath-related collections also include photographs, journals, correspondence with friends and relatives, and books from Plath’s personal library.

Sylvia Plath. “Cut.” Draft 1, p.1, October 24, 1962. From the Sylvia Plath Collection. PURCHASED

“Smith Acquires papers of poet Sylvia Plath,” Daily Hampshire Gazette, Northampton, MA, 1981 from the MRBR office files


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