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Houghton Mifflin Company Collection of papers on Bitter Fame, 1954-1991
9 boxes (3.5 linear ft.)

Abstract:
Papers collected by the Houghton Mifflin Company for their 1989 publication of Anne Stevenson's biography Bitter Fame: A Life of Sylvia Plath. Includes correspondence and legal papers concerning the project, as well as research notes, drafts, corrections, press clippings, and photocopies of illustrations.

Terms of Access and Use: Restrictions on use:

The Houghton Mifflin Company Papers on Bitter Fame are the physical property of the Mortimer Rare Book Room, Smith College. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors of the works or their legal representatives. Anne Stevenson retains copyright to all unpublished versions of the biography and, per her letter of 24 October 1997, will not grant permission to any scholar to quote from this material. Photocopies in the papers may not be duplicated and permission to quote from them must be obtained from the owner of the original manuscript as well as the copyright holder.

Mortimer Rare Book Room
Smith College
Northampton, MA

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Houghton Mifflin Company Collection of papers on Bitter Fame contain Houghton Mifflin's working papers for their 1989 publication of Anne Stevenson's biography Bitter Fame: A Life of Sylvia Plath. In addition to correspondence and legal papers concerning the project, there are research notes, drafts, corrections, and press clippings. The papers span the dates 1954-1991, but the bulk of the material covers the years 1986-1990. The papers were presented to the Smith College Library Rare Book Room on October 1, 1992 by the Houghton Mifflin Company, through the kind offices of their consulting editor, Peter Davison.

The papers begin with the correspondence of Peter Davison, which includes notes about telephone conversations as well as letters to and from the principal people involved in the project: Olwyn Hughes, Ted Hughes, and Anne Stevenson, among others. A draft of Anne Stevenson's poem, "Homage to Sylvia Plath" is housed in Box 1, folder 14. Olwyn Hughes's correspondence with Penguin Books is arranged separately in Box 1, folder 15. A few letters between Anne Stevenson (or her husband Peter Lucas) and Olwyn Hughes are housed in Box 1, folder 18. Four other letters by Anne Stevenson ask for information or request permission to quote.

The rest of the collection relates to the writing, editing, and publishing of Bitter Fame: A Life of Sylvia Plath (Boston, 1989). The original proposal for the project is in Box 1, folder 21, along with contracts and other business papers. Press clippings about Sylvia Plath: A Biography (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987) by Linda Wagner-Martin are filed with articles about Plath (Box 2, folder 22). Dido and W. S. Merwin's correspondence with Linda Wagner-Martin is also part of the research section of the collection, along with notes about interviews with Jillian Becker, James Michie, Suzette de Macedo, and Nicola Tyrer. Fourteen photocopies of letters to and from Aurelia Plath and Sylvia Plath complete the research section of the papers.

Five separate drafts of the book are arranged in chronological order. A second copy of draft B (Box 4, folders 42-54) is heavily annotated by Peter Davison, who edited the biography. Later corrections by Davison may be found in Box 8, folders 88-89. Draft D (Box 6, folders 66-78) has been annotated by the copy editor and includes a second copy of Appendix I, with corrections by Lucas Myers (Box 6, folder 73). Draft E (Box 7, folders 79-87) includes Olwyn Hughes's changes, which are marked. Her suggested revisions are filed together in Box 8 (folders 90-99) and are arranged roughly by chapters. Additional suggestions may also be found in her correspondence with Peter Davison and Anne Stevenson. Ted Hughes, Dido Merwin and Anne Stevenson also submitted corrections which are filed separately.

At the end of the Bitter Fame series are photocopies of illustrations used in the book, copy for the jacket cover, and press clippings.

This collection is organized into two series:


Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on use:

The Houghton Mifflin Company Papers on Bitter Fame are the physical property of the Mortimer Rare Book Room, Smith College. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors of the works or their legal representatives. Anne Stevenson retains copyright to all unpublished versions of the biography and, per her letter of 24 October 1997, will not grant permission to any scholar to quote from this material. Photocopies in the papers may not be duplicated and permission to quote from them must be obtained from the owner of the original manuscript as well as the copyright holder.

Preferred Citation

Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection:

Houghton Mifflin Company Collection of papers on Bitter Fame, Mortimer Rare Book Room, Smith College.

History of the Collection

The papers were presented to the Smith College Library Rare Book Room on October 1, 1992 by the Houghton Mifflin Company, through the kind offices of their consulting editor, Peter Davison.


Additional Information
Contact Information
Smith College Special Collections
Young Library
4 Tyler Drive
Northampton, MA 01063

Phone: (413) 585-2970
Fax: (413) 585-2886

Email: specialcollections@smith.edu
URL: https://www.smith.edu/libraries/special-collections
Language
English.
Sponsor
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Series Descriptions
1963-91
.5' (410 items)

Box 1 holds series I, Correspondence which is divided into the correspondence of Peter Davison, Olwyn Hughes, and Anne Stevenson. Each subseries is arranged alphabetically by correspondent and then chronologically.

1954-90
3' (202 items)

Boxes 2-9 hold series II, Bitter Fame which is arranged in the order of creation, beginning with legal papers and ending with press clippings.

Contents List
Series I. Correspondence,
1963-91


PETER DAVISON (391 items)



Flanders, Judith



Note:
Hughes, Olwyn (172 items)
1986-89

Box 1:1-4
Hughes, Ted (5 items)
1987-89

Box 1:5
Lacey, Tony



Note:
Myers, Lucas (2 items)
1989

Box 1:6
Note:
Penguin Books (39 items)
1987-90

Box 1:7
Stevenson, Anne (100 items)
1986-91, n.d.

Box 1:8-14
OLWYN HUGHES (5 items)



Lucas, Peter



Note:
Penguin Books (5 items)
1987-88

Box 1:15
Stevenson, Anne



Note:
ANNE STEVENSON (14 items)



Barnhouse, Ruth Tiffany
1987 Sep 10

Box 1:16
Harper & Row
1988 Dec 21

Box 1:17
Hughes, Olwyn (10 items)
1987-89

Box 1:18
Lucas, Peter


Box 1:18
Note:
Penguin Books
1987 Sep 20

Box 1:19
Thomas, Trevor
1988 Dec 21

Box 1:20
Series II. Bitter Fame,
1954-90


LEGAL PAPERS (42 items)



Includes business papers, contracts, proposals, and publicity
1986-90

Box 2:21
RESEARCH (64 items)



Articles & notes about Plath (35 items)
1983-88

Box 2:22
Database searches (8 items)
1987-88

Box 2:23
Interviews (5 items)
1987

Box 2:24
Merwin correspondence with Linda Wagner-Martin (2 items)
1985-86

Box 2:25
Plath correspondence (14 items)
1954-66

Box 2:26
DRAFTS (6 items)



Draft A: "Version 1"



Chapters I-III
1987

Box 2:27
Chapters IV-VI


Box 2:28
Chapters VII-IX


Box 2:29
Chapters X-XII


Box 2:30
Epilogue


Box 2:31
Draft B: "Master Copy"



Preface
1987-88

Box 3:32
Chapters I-III


Box 3:33
Chapters IV-VI


Box 3:34
Chapters VII-IX


Box 3:35
Chapters X-XII


Box 3:36
Epilogue


Box 3:37
Appendix I


Box 3:38
Appendix II


Box 3:39
Appendix III (2 copies)
1987 Aug 4

Box 3:40
Notes


Box 3:41
Draft B: "Final draft" with Peter Davison's manuscript corrections



Preface
1987-88

Box 4:42
Chapters I-III


Box 4:43
Chapters IV-VI


Box 4:44
Chapters VII-IX


Box 4:45
Chapters X-XII


Box 4:46
Epilogue


Box 4:47
Appendix I


Box 4:48
Appendix II, with "Reactions to my first reading"
1987 Dec

Box 4:49
Appendix II
1988 Feb

Box 4:50
Appendix II
1988 May

Box 4:51
Appendix II: "Revision"
1988 May

Box 4:52
Appendix III: "Revised copy"
1988 Feb

Box 4:53
Notes


Box 4:54
Draft C: "August
1988 Draft"


Preface
1988 Aug

Box 5:55
Chapters I-III


Box 5:56
Chapters IV-VI


Box 5:57
Chapters VII-IX


Box 5:58
Chapters X-XII


Box 5:59
Epilogue


Box 5:60
Appendix I


Box 5:61
Appendix II


Box 5:62
Appendix III


Box 5:63
Bibliography


Box 5:64
Notes on Sources


Box 5:65
Draft D: " Orig. Ms.," with copy editor's marks



Preface
1989

Box 6:66
Chapters I-III


Box 6:67
Chapters IV-VI


Box 6:68
Chapters VII-IX


Box 6:69
Chapters X-XII


Box 6:70
Epilogue


Box 6:71
Appendix I


Box 6:72
Appendix I (photocopy), with corrections by Lucas Myers


Box 6:73
Appendix II


Box 6:74
Appendix III


Box 6:75
Bibliography


Box 6:76
Notes on Sources


Box 6:77
Captions list
1989 Feb 7

Box 6:78
Draft E: "Penultimate Printout w/ OH's Changes Marked"



Chapters I-III
n.d.

Box 7:79
Chapters IV-VI


Box 7:80
Chapters VII-IX


Box 7:81
Chapters X-XII


Box 7:82
Epilogue


Box 7:83
Appendix I


Box 7:84
Appendix II


Box 7:85
Appendix III


Box 7:86
Sources and Notes


Box 7:87
CORRECTIONS by (5 items)



Davison, Peter
1988-90, n.d.

Box 8:88-89
Note:
Hughes, Olwyn



Preface
1987-89

Box 8:90
Chapters I-III


Box 8:91
Chapters IV-VI


Box 8:92
Chapters VII-IX


Box 8:93
Chapters X-XII
1987-89

Box 8:94
Epilogue


Box 8:95
Appendix II


Box 8:96
Appendix III


Box 8:97
Bibliography


Box 8:98
Notes


Box 8:99
Hughes, Ted
1987-88

Box 8:100
Merwin, Dido
1988 Feb

Box 8:101
Stevenson,Anne
1988-89

Box 8:102-103
ILLUSTRATIONS (80 photocopies)
n.d.

Box 9:104
JACKET COPY
1990 Apr 3

Box 9:105
PRESS CLIPPINGS (4 items)
1988-89

Box 9:106
PRESERVATION



Fragile faxes


Box 9:107

Search Terms
The following terms represent persons, organizations, and topics documented in this collection. Use these headings to search for additional materials on this web site, in the Five College Library Catalog, or in other library catalogs and databases.

Subjects
  • Davison, Peter
  • Hughes, Olwyn
  • Hughes, Ted, 1930-1998
  • Plath, Sylvia--Biography
  • Poets, American--20th century--Biography
  • Stevenson, Anne


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