Poet Sylvia Plath Died in 1963 — Why The New York Times Is Just Getting Around to Publishing Her Obituary Today

Mar 8, 2018  •  Post A Comment

The New York Times today published an obituary for Sylvia Plath, who died at age 30 in 1963.

“Because the death was a suicide, Plath’s family did not much advertise it, said Peter K. Steinberg, an editor, with Karen Kukil, of ‘The Letters of Sylvia Plath,’ the second volume of which is to be published this year,” The Times’ report notes. “And although she was a published poet who had received good reviews, and had determinedly made her way in a literary world dominated by men, the press did not pay much attention.”

The report also notes: “Plath spent her last months writing the poems that would secure her literary reputation.”

The obituary is part of a new feature running under the banner “Overlooked” and coinciding with International Women’s Day. Penned by Amisha Padnani and Jessica Bennett, today’s feature, which includes 15 obituaries, is the first in a series the paper says is aimed at correcting a historical imbalance.

“Since 1851, The New York Times has published thousands of obituaries: of heads of state, opera singers, the inventor of Stove Top stuffing and the namer of the Slinky,” they authors write in introducing the project. “The vast majority chronicled the lives of men, mostly white ones; even in the last two years, just over one in five of our subjects were female.”

Other women whose obituaries are featured today include “Jane Eyre” author Charlotte Bronte; Emily Warren Roebling, who oversaw construction of the Brooklyn Bridge; anti-lynching activist Ida B. Wells; Qiu Jin, known as “China’s Joan of Arc”; photographer Diane Arbus; and mathematician Ada Lovelace, recognized today as the first computer programmer.

The Times plans to add to the list each week, making the “Overlooked” feature a regular part of its obituaries section.

Please click on the link at the top of this story to go to The New York Times to see the full “Overlooked” feature.

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