She was a major figure in the Confessional Group, so called because the poets in it used their personal life and their often nighmarish experiences to explore the meaning of the modern world. Haunted first by the presence and then by the memory of her father and betrayal by an unfaithful husband, she finally committed suicide as she had "promised" to do in some of her poems. As a "skilled suicide-artist", in all her work she explored the nature of womanhood, suffering and death.
Sylvia Plath was born in Boston in 1932. Her mother, Aurelia, Schober, was of Austrian descent, while her father, Otto Plath, was of German origin. He was professor of entomology at Boston University and an expert in bees (a recurrent theme in Sylvia's poems). He suffered for a long time from diabetes, in consequence of which he had a leg amputated. Because of his illness and his authoritarian temper, Sylvia had a very complex love-hate relationship with him and his memory haunted her all her life and echoes throughout her poetry.
In late 1959 they returned to England where their first child, Frieda, was born. A second child, Nicholas, was born in 1962. Her husband left her in October for Assia Wevill (who eventually killed herself in 1969, together with their little daughter), and Plath had to struggle on her own to look after her young children in a small poorly-heated flat in the freezing winter of 1962-63, one of the worst on record. In February 1963 she committed suicide.
Ariel and other poems. Sylvia Plath's techniques developed through the experiments she carried out in Daddy. It is the most terrible of Plath's "confessional poems": in it the poet deals with two male figures in her life: her father, who died when she was only ten years old, and her husband, who abandoned her shortly before her death. In Daddy Plath represents the dominant, savage make figure and herself as a Jew. Her father, though of German origin, was certainly not a Nazi and Plath had no jewish blood; through the "public" history of the Holocaust, however, she finds expression for her private history of pain and love, connected with male dominance, a theme that has led to Plath's "adoption" by American feminism.