Sylvia Plath’s personal collection to auction in March

The Hermes typewriter on which Sylvia Plath wrote The Bell Jar is among the highlights of a collection of the poet’s personal artefacts coming to auction.

The collection will form part of Bonhams’ Fine Books and Manuscripts sale in London on March 21.

Plath and Hughes

Plath with husband Ted Hughes

The Bell Jar was Plath’s only novel. The semi-autobiographical work discusses mental illness. It was published in January 1963, just a month before her suicide - making it a sentimental piece for Plath's many fans.

In addition to the £60,000 ($85,000)-estimated typewriter, there is Plath's proof copy of the novel, containing around 70 of her handwritten amendments. It's expected to sell for £70,000 ($100,000). That's £10,000 less than the estimate for her author’s copy of the book.   

Regular first editions of the novel, with dust jacket, auction for around $4,000 – the disparity in prices clear evidence of the emphasis collectors place on the most personal items.  

Several annotated books will also feature. Some include the annotations of Plath’s husband, fellow poet Ted Hughes. Arguably the most poignant of these is a well-thumbed copy of the Shorter Oxford Dictionary that Hughes and Plath bought themselves as a Christmas present in 1956.

It contains the date of their marriage (1956) as well as the names and dates of birth of their children, Frieda and Nicholas.

Plath’s copy of the Joy of Cookery, gifted to her by her mother, will also go under the hammer. Plath has added a star and the note “Ted likes this” against a recipe for breaded slices of veal.

The collection, which also includes Plath’s clothes, furniture and jewellery, is consigned by Plath’s sole remaining child, Frieda.

In 2015, Plath’s handwritten story The Mummy’s Tomb, which she composed when just 14, sold for £5,000 ($7,000) at Bonhams.

We have some superb books and manuscripts for sale.

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