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Sylvia Plath
courtesy of Gordon Lameyer

The typewriter Sylvia Plath wrote the Bell Jar on went up for sale

The poet, author, and artist’s personal possessions – clothes, drawings, an old library card – hit auction in London

Some of Sylvia Plath’s personal possessions – including a typewriter, annotated cookbook, and original drawings – have gone on sale. Alongside the things of her husband and poet Ted Hughes, her daughter Frieda Hughes is selling the famed writer’s personal pieces at a London auction.

As Quartzy reports, some of the items on sale from March 21 included the Ariel writer’s high school graduation photo, her typewriter on which she wrote the Bell Jar, first edition personal copies of her work, childhood drawings, and her library card, which expired in 1960. 

The auction took place at Bonhams Knightsbridge, London. Plath’s typewriter, a green Hermes 3000 model, fetched £32,500. Her graduation photo went for £1,750 and a wallet containing some of her cards and identification hit £8,750. Her revised proof copy of the Bell Jar went for £87,500. Some of Ted Hughes’ original works, with personal notes, fetched between £2,000 and £15,000.

Frieda Hughes is the couple’s only living child. She told The Times: “In identifying which items to sell, I realised that much of what I owned, redolent of my parents’ joint history, told a story — one item made sense of other items. It seemed that if I wished to sell some items, then others would have to go too, because presented together, they made up a snapshot of a mutual history, and so the idea of the auction was born. 

“It will enable others to take on the preservation and enjoyment of things that I have loved to live with, but which I would like to find new homes for, while the decision is still mine to make.”

Plath died by suicide in her London home in 1963. Hughes died of a heart attack in 1998. 

Read back on our interview with two Sylvia Plath archivists who discovered previously never seen works by the poet and author.