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  • Seller image for The Bell Jar. for sale by Peter Harrington.  ABA/ ILAB.

    PLATH, Sylvia, as Victoria Lucas.

    Published by London: William Heinemann, 1963, 1963

    Seller: Peter Harrington. ABA/ ILAB., London, United Kingdom

    Association Member: ABA ILAB PBFA

    Seller Rating: 5-star rating

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    First Edition Signed

    US$ 48,814.40

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    First edition, first impression, a superb association copy, with contemporary annotations by Ted Hughes and more recent annotations by Frieda Hughes; this copy at one time also had the ownership inscription of Plath herself on the front free endpaper. Loosely inserted is an intimate photo of Plath and the new-born Frieda, inscribed by Plath on the verso, "Frieda almost new Chalcot Square". This copy appears to have been read by Ted Hughes, with two pencil annotations in his hand in the text and marginal pencil lines in four locations. The marginal marks are next to passages relating to the recognition of truth, the "windowless corridor of pain. waiting to open up and shut [women] in again" (p. 68), and the persistence of life "no matter how much you knelt and prayed" (p. 174), while his annotations relate to Olive Higgins Prouty (1882-1974), the novelist and poet widely thought to be the basis for the character Philomena Guinea in this work. Hughes has added "Mrs Prouthy" at the head of page 5, and written "The Trout", perhaps a play on Prouty's name, above Guinea's first appearance in the text on page 41. Prouty, whose 1941 novel Now, Voyager was a pioneering exploration of psychotherapy, sponsored Plath at Smith College. From there, the two developed a close and ongoing friendship, with Plath writing letters continuously to Prouty regarding her life, family, and work until her death. Hughes's first annotation is at the head of the section introducing Doreen, Esther's fellow intern and resident at the Amazon, perhaps identifying Prouty as part inspiration for the character of Doreen, as well as that of Guinea. The Bell Jar was released on 14 January 1963, just five weeks before Plath's suicide. Shortly after her death, Hughes discovered Prouty had been encouraging Plath in her last weeks to contact a solicitor to file for divorce (Gifford, p. 23). In her letters to Prouty, Plath had repeatedly depicted Hughes as a "brutal womanizer", relating instances of Hughes's emotional abuse and financial manipulation, and Prouty was keen to extract Plath from the situation (Egeland, p. 155). Frieda was less than three years old when The Bell Jar was published. It appears she inherited this copy from Hughes and annotated it as an adult, writing out one of her own poems, "The Signature", on the front free endpaper. On the clipped corner just above the poem she has noted that "Somewhere there is a square of paper with my mother's signature on it that fits exactly here. FH". In "The Signature", Frieda meditates on the removal of her mother's signature and the nature of sharing her mother's legacy ("One for you, one for me / The books are being / Divided between us."). The second stanza reads, "Each book is opened, and there / She has written her name. A mother / For you, a mother for me / Another for you, another for me, / And suddenly, a small square / Cut from the page corner where / Her ink had dried". "The Signature" was first published in Frieda Hughes's The Stonepicker (2001) and again in Out of the Ashes (2018), both appearances also noted here by Frieda. She has additionally decorated the edges of two instances of loss on the copy, the clipped endpaper and the verso of the jacket, adding along the torn edge an inked drawing of a zip, labelled "Pull here". Tabor A4. Marianne Egeland, Claiming Sylvia Plath: The Poet as Exemplary Figure, 2013; Terry Gifford, The Cambridge Companion to Ted Hughes, 2011. Octavo. Original black boards, spine lettered in gilt. With dust jacket, designed by Thomas Simmonds. [With:] original photograph (60 x 60 mm), in very good condition, image a little blurred. Housed in a black quarter morocco solander box by the Chelsea Bindery. A very good copy, light foxing to edges and endpapers, in the bright jacket, portion of loss to upper outer corner of front panel and flap, some creasing and rubbing to extremities, else bright, unclipped.