Heather Clark, whose 1,100-page biography of Sylvia Plath was published by Alfred A. Knopf and Jonathan Cape in October 2020, talks about her experience writing the life of an iconic figure who has been mythologized and pathologized for half a century.
Clark spent eight years researching and writing her biography. Her book draws upon a wealth of new material—including key letters, interviews, manuscripts, and psychiatric information—to give a fuller portrait of Plath’s early life, college years, marriage to Ted Hughes, and literary career.
Clark discusses the fraught history of Plath biography, her own decision to write a new life of Plath, and some of the challenges she encountered along the way. She talks about the merits of “slow” biography in the age of the soundbite, and why we need more big biographies of women.