Sylvia Plath did not want her real name on The Bell Jar so long as her mother was alive, a friend of Plath's named Elizabeth Sigmund has said. The Bell Jar was originally published under the pen name Victoria Lucas in 1963, the year of Plath's suicide. Three years later, it was published under her own name against Plath's wishes, Sigmund said.
Sylvia Plath was wary of offending her mother Aurelia Plath and other friends and family with content in the semi-autobiographical book, the Guardian quotes Sigmund explaining. She also alleged that publishers Faber and Faber removed the dedication that appeared in the first edition of The Bell Jar — "For Elizabeth and David," who was Sigmund's husband — because they did not want readers being able to contact her friends. Faber and Faber told the Guardian they weren't aware that Plath wanted to remain under a pseudonym. (The dedication was later returned to the book in 1974.)
In any case, Plath's mother Aurelia did not die until 1994. Olwyn Hughes, sister of Plath's husband Ted Hughes, somewhat callously suggested to the Guardian that it didn't matter if the book was published under Plath's real name because everyone knew it was written by her anyway.
What a fascinating — and continually sad — tale.
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