Banner with two book covers and a photo of a young woman outside typing on a typewriter

The Bell Jar by Victoria Lucas / Author: Sylvia Plath /1963 / Book / Mortimer Rare Book Room, William Allan Neilson Library, Smith College, Northampton, MA ; gift of Ann Safford Mandel '53  |  The Collected Poems / Author: Sylvia Plath /1981 / Book |  Sylvia Plath with Typewriter in Yorkshire/Unidentified Artist/September 1956 / Mortimer Rare Book Room, William Allan Neilson Library, Smith College, Northampton, MA

One Life: Sylvia Plath

June 30, 2017 - May 20, 2018
First floor

“One Life: Sylvia Plath” is the first exploration of the poet and writer’s life in an art and history museum. The exhibition reveals how Plath shaped her identity visually as she came of age as a writer in the 1950s. Visitors will get a look into Plath’s personal life and her dualistic nature she explained as her “brown-haired” and “platinum” personalities. Through personal letters, her own artwork, family photographs and relevant objects, this exhibition highlights Plath’s struggle to understand her own self and to navigate the societal pressures placed on young women during her time. Her Smith College thesis, “The Magic Mirror: A Study of the Double in Two of Dostoevsky’s Novels,” suggests that she took an academic approach to studying her own dualities.

The exhibition features a carefully selected array of images and objects from the Plath archives at Smith College and the University of Indiana’s Lilly Library, two collections that have never been brought together before in a museum exhibition.  Dorothy Moss, curator of painting and sculpture at the Portrait Gallery, is curator of this show, joined by guest co-curator Karen Kukil, associate curator of rare books and manuscripts at Smith College.