Edward Butscher collection of papers on Sylvia Plath
Scope and Contents
The Edward Butscher Collection of papers on Sylvia Plath contains Butscher's correspondence about Plath as well as copies of some of Plath's correspondence, writings, and family documents all of which were used by Butscher to write Sylvia Plath: Method and Madness (New York: Seabury Press, 1976). In addition to Butscher's research notes and drafts of his critical biography, the papers also contain critical essays about Plath, which Butscher collected and edited as Sylvia Plath: The Woman and the Work (New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1977). The papers span the dates 1918-1976, but the bulk of the material covers the years 1946-1976. The papers were purchased from the House of Books, Ltd. in the late 1970s and presented to the Smith College Library Rare Book Collection on July 2, 1992 by Ann Lee O'Connell Anderson, Class of 1955, and Mary Lee O'Connell Jamieson, Class of 1958, in honor of Helen Mary Lee O'Connell, Class of 1931.
Edward Butscher's correspondence is housed in Boxes 1-2, and consists of 221 letters (mostly addressed to Butscher) about Sylvia Plath and her family. Many letters refer to interviews with Butscher. Tapes of these interviews are not part of the papers. A few of Butscher's responses to Olwyn Hughes (the literary executor of the Sylvia Plath estate) are interfiled in Box 1, folder 30. John Press's memoir of Sylvia Plath is enclosed with his letters (Box 2, folder 61). A memoir of Assia Wevill is included with Edward Lucie-Smith's May 14, 1975 letter (Box 1, folder 44). Ted Hughes is also mentioned in Elizabeth Sigmund's correspondence (Box 2, folder 72). Information about Otto Plath's college degree may be found with Butscher's letters from Northwestern College (Box 2, folder 53). Mary Ellen Chase's letter of recommendation for Sylvia Plath to teach at Smith College is filed separately (Box 2, folder 88). A transcript of Aurelia Plath's July 23 1953 letter to Marcia Brown Stem describes Sylvia's health before her suicide attempt. A later letter to Elizabeth Sigmund discusses Mrs. Plath's grandchildren. All of the 54 letters in Sylvia Plath's correspondence are copies or transcripts; some concern her student days at Smith College, while a few deal with her later appointment to the English Department at Smith College. Both sides of her correspondence with John Lehmann about writing submissions to The London Magazine are contained in Box 2, folder 95. Scholars should write directly to the University of Texas at Austin to see copies of these letters.
The original typescript of Butscher's biography of Sylvia Plath is housed in Box 3. Galleys may be found in Box 4, along with the objections and corrections of Olwyn Hughes, Philip McCurdy, and Warren J. Plath. Only three essays for Sylvia Plath: The Woman and the Work are represented by typescripts in the papers. Of the 168 examples of Sylvia Plath's writing, only the essay "Snow Blitz" (Box 5, folder 136) is an original typescript and it was "supplied by Olwyn Hughes." Otherwise, Plath's thesis, poetry, essays, and short stories are printed versions or photocopies from the original manuscripts at the Lilly Library, Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin, and Smith College. In addition, there are some fragments of Letters Home and a copy of the radio script for "Three Woman. " The sixteen pieces about Sylvia Plath are copies of printed articles, except for a poem by Peter Davison, an article by Gordon Lameyer, and an excerpt from Marcia Brown Stern's diary.
Besides clippings, Other Papers (46 items) contains copies of Sylvia Plath's death certificate and obituaries, a few of her college notes, and copies of the Plath-Schober family documents, such as death certificates.
A group of fifteen photographs of Sylvia Plath, friends, and places she lived complete the papers. Many of these photographs were reproduced by Butscher in Sylvia Plath: Method and Madness.
Dates of Materials
- Majority of material found within 1946-1976
- Edward Butscher (collector) (Person)
Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Access
The Edward Butscher Collection of papers on Sylvia Plath are the physical property of the Smith College Library Rare Book Collection. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors of works or their legal representatives.
Photocopies in the papers may not be duplicated and permission to quote from them must be obtained from the owner of the original manuscript as well as the copyright holder.
Biographical / Historical
Edward Butscher was born in Flushing, New York, on September 30, 1943 to Edward J. and Lena Cutillo Butscher. He was educated at Queens College of the City University of New York (B.A., 1963), Long Island University (M.A., 1971), and New York University (Ph.D.) In addition to teaching English at several public schools in New York, Butscher was a member of the faculty at the New School for Social Research (1974) and an instructor at C. W. Post Center of Long Island University (1977-78).
His writings include Sylvia Plath: Method and Madness (Seabury, 1976); Poems about Silence (Seabury, 1976); (editor) Sylvia Plath: The Woman and the Work (Dodd, 1977); Adelaid Crapsey (Twayne, 1979); (poems) Amagansett Cycle (Cross-Cultural Communications, 1979); Conrad Aiken: A Literary Biography (Dodd, 1980); (poems) Unfinished Sequence (Cross-Cultural Communications, c1981); Faces on the Barroom Floor (Contemporary Press, 1984); (editor) Paul Bowles Issue (Hofstra University Press, 1981); Conrad Aiken: Poet of White Horse Vale (University of Georgia Press, c1988); (poems) Eros Descending (Dusty Dog Chapbook, 1992); Peter Wild (Boise State University, c 1992).
2.625 linear feet (6 containers)
Teacher and writer from New York. Includes Butscher's correspondence about Plath and typescripts of his biographies, copies of some of Plath's correspondence, writings, and family documents, critical essays about Plath, and photographs.
This collection is organized into four series:
- I. Correspondence (1951-1976)
- II. Writings (1944-1976)
- III. Other Papers (1918-1974)
- IV. Photographs (1949-1962)
Plath's thesis, poetry, essays, and short stories are printed versions or photocopies from the original manuscripts at the Lilly Library, Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin, and Smith College.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The papers were purchased from the House of Books, Ltd. in the late 1970s and presented to the Smith College Library Rare Book Collection on July 2, 1992 by Ann Lee O'Connell Anderson, Class of 1955, and Mary Lee O'Connell Jamieson, Class of 1958, in honor of Helen Mary Lee O'Connell, Class of 1931.
- Edward Butscher collection of papers on Sylvia Plath
- Finding Aid
- Compiled by Karen V. Kukil
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
- 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (https://github.com/harvard-library/archivesspace-preprocessor)
- 2005-09-23: manoscmr2 converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02-5c.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
Part of the Mortimer Rare Book Collection Repository
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063