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Sylvia Plath’s elusive sketches

On display together at the Mayor Gallery for the first time, Plath's drawings cast an intriguing light on her poems

By Rosanna Boscawen   December 2011
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Drawings by Sylvia Plath, copyright Frieda Hughes, courtesy of the Mayor Gallery

Although best known for her poetry, art was central to Sylvia Plath’s vision of the world. Several of her poems centre on great paintings by Rousseau, Klee and de Chirico. In “Yadwigha, on a Red Couch, Among Lilies,” she gives the girl from Rousseau’s The Dream (1910) a life beyond the painting by naming her. But for all that, the girl’s inner life remains mysterious, as the poem hinges on what “Rousseau told the critics.”

The connection between Plath’s own drawings and her poetry is similarly…

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