The year 1604 & Sylvia Plath

Those who oppose Edward de Vere’s authorship of the Shakespeare canon will sometimes gleefully point to the year 1604 and say something like, “Edward de Vere cannot be the true author of Shakespeare because he died in 1604 and several of his plays were written after 1604.” Or “Edward de Vere died in 1604 and dead men cannot write, therefore he is NOT the author.” Or, how about this one, courtesy of Twitter: “RIP Edward de Vere. You would have loved the plays Shakespeare wrote after your death.”

ME: ,<face palm> “So, Edward de Vere’s plays could NOT have been written prior to 1604, and then published posthumously?” DeVere critics put their fingers in their ears and go “Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, I can’t hear you!”

Therefore, if you are like them, or cannot believe that Edward de Vere could be the “real” author because of his death in 1604, I suggest that you examine the life of Sylvia Plath.

Why Sylvia Plath? She died in 1963, and yet she won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1982. Yup. Google it.

Interestingly, like the “real” author of the Shakespeare canon, Sylvia Plath also suffered from bipolar disorder. And that is how we know who the “real” author is, because symptoms of bipolar disorder show up in the Sonnets, poems and plays. I lay out the evidence in Shakey’s Madness, and you are free to look at Sonnet 116. I had to write a paper on that sonnet in college and I rewrote some of the lines. Rewrite Shakespeare? Who dares to rewrite Shakespeare?

Of course, I was scared sh*tless when I did it.

Why is that sonnet so important?

My own synopsis of Sylvia Plath’s life is below.

Sylvia Plath was born in 1932. Her mother and father were both well-educated. DAD was a professor at Boston University and was considered an expert on bees. Sylvia grew up in Winthrop, Massachusetts and it is a seaside town, similar to the fictional one spoken about in her poems. Sylvia’s father died in 1940 when she was eight. Her mother had to work to pay the bills but Sylvia was a high-achiever and did well in school.

By the age of 17, Sylvia had written several short stories and poems. She accepted an offer to attend Smith College, however, privately, Sylvia worried about her conflicting desire to become a mother and also have a writing career.

Sylvia won an essay contest and left home to live in New York where she became a guest editor for Mademoiselle Magazine, however, she left the magazine to help take care of her mother.

Often feeling depressed, Sylvia experimented with psychiatry and ended up undergoing electroshock therapy.

In her journal, Sylvia describes this time in her life as: “a time of darkness, despair, and disillusion so black only as the inferno of the human mind can be.”  

Plath returned to Smith College and graduated in 1955. She later earned a masters degree from Cambridge University England due to a Fulbright scholarship. There at Cambridge in the UK, she met the poet Ted Hughes who would one day become the poet laureate of England. They married in 1956, but the following year, Plath returned to teaching at Smith College. She quit teaching to focus more on her writing but became more despairing because of rejections from publications. She moved back to London and had another child in 1959. and got her first book of poetry published. Titled, Colossus and Other Poems, it was acclaimed by critics for it’s style and language.

In 1962, Plath was working on The Bell Jar along with another book of poems. She wrote in her journal that she had decided to abandon her earlier method, and wrote “at top speed, as one might write an urgent letter.”

Her poems centered around themes of despair and disillusionment, and that same year, 1962, she separated from her husband. The Bell Jar was accepted for publication in London under the name Victoria Lucas. The next month later, Plath committed suicide.

The Ariel collection was published posthumously in 1965 as was Uncollected Poems (1965). Plath’s additional books were also published after her death, Crossing the Water (1965) and Winter Trees (1972).

Her poetry influenced the direction of poetry for the next twenty years. Plath’s Her Collected Poems won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1982.

The Bell Jar was published in the United States in 1970. Her mother wrote to the publishers begging them not to publish the book. (Plath had written to her brother telling him the book must NEVER be published in the United States. She said she had written it under a pseudonym (Victoria Lucas) because she doubted the Bell Jar had any literary merit.”

So, if you are someone who has a problem with a playwright who died in 1604, and yet consider it “inconceivable” that his plays could have been written anytime after 1604, consider this headscratcher: how did a children’s book written by Sylvia Plath, who died in 1962, get published in 1996? Yes, the book The It-Doesn’t-Matter Suit, was published 34 years after Plath’s death!