Edward Butscher Collection of papers on Sylvia Plath
Scope and Contents of the Collection
The Edward Butscher Collection of papers on Sylvia Plath contains Butscher's correspondence about Plath as well as copies of some of Plath's correspondence, writings, and family documents all of which were used by Butscher to write Sylvia Plath: Method and Madness (New York: Seabury Press, 1976). In addition to Butscher's research notes and drafts of his critical biography, the papers also contain critical essays about Plath, which Butscher collected and edited as Sylvia Plath: The Woman and the Work (New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1977). The papers span the dates 1918-1976, but the bulk of the material covers the years 1946-1976. The papers were purchased from the House of Books, Ltd. in the late 1970s and presented to the Smith College Library Rare Book Room on July 2, 1992 by Ann Lee O'Connell Anderson, Class of 1955, and Mary Lee O'Connell Jamieson, Class of 1958, in honor of Helen Mary Lee O'Connell, Class of 1931.
Edward Butscher's correspondence is housed in Boxes 1-2, and consists of 221 letters (mostly addressed to Butscher) about Sylvia Plath and her family. Many letters refer to interviews with Butscher. Tapes of these interviews are not part of the papers. A few of Butscher's responses to Olwyn Hughes (the literary executor of the Sylvia Plath estate) are interfiled in Box 1, folder 30. John Press's memoir of Sylvia Plath is enclosed with his letters (Box 2, folder 61). A memoir of Assia Wevill is included with Edward Lucie-Smith's May 14, 1975 letter (Box 1, folder 44). Ted Hughes is also mentioned in Elizabeth Sigmund's correspondence (Box 2, folder 72). Information about Otto Plath's college degree may be found with Butscher's letters from Northwestern College (Box 2, folder 53). Mary Ellen Chase's letter of recommendation for Sylvia Plath to teach at Smith College is filed separately (Box 2, folder 88). A transcript of Aurelia Plath's July 23 1953 letter to Marcia Brown Stem describes Sylvia's health before her suicide attempt. A later letter to Elizabeth Sigmund discusses Mrs. Plath's grandchildren. All of the 54 letters in Sylvia Plath's correspondence are copies or transcripts; some concern her student days at Smith College, while a few deal with her later appointment to the English Department at Smith College. Both sides of her correspondence with John Lehmann about writing submissions to The London Magazine are contained in Box 2, folder 95. Scholars should write directly to the University of Texas at Austin to see copies of these letters.
The original typescript of Butscher's biography of Sylvia Plath is housed in Box 3. Galleys may be found in Box 4, along with the objections and corrections of Olwyn Hughes, Philip McCurdy, and Warren J. Plath. Only three essays for Sylvia Plath: The Woman and the Work are represented by typescripts in the papers. Of the 168 examples of Sylvia Plath's writing, only the essay "Snow Blitz" (Box 5, folder 136) is an original typescript and it was "supplied by Olwyn Hughes." Otherwise, Plath's thesis, poetry, essays, and short stories are printed versions or photocopies from the original manuscripts at the Lilly Library, Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin, and Smith College. In addition, there are some fragments of Letters Home and a copy of the radio script for "Three Woman. " The sixteen pieces about Sylvia Plath are copies of printed articles, except for a poem by Peter Davison, an article by Gordon Lameyer, and an excerpt from Marcia Brown Stern's diary.
Besides clippings, Other Papers (46 items) contains copies of Sylvia Plath's death certificate and obituaries, a few of her college notes, and copies of the Plath-Schober family documents, such as death certificates.
A group of fifteen photographs of Sylvia Plath, friends, and places she lived complete the papers. Many of these photographs were reproduced by Butscher in Sylvia Plath: Method and Madness.