Sylvia Plath Quiz


By: Staff Writer

4 Min Quiz

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About This Quiz

Her bleak and unsparing poetry left an unmistakable literary legacy. How much do you know about Sylvia Plath's writing and life? Take this quiz and find out!

In what year was Sylvia Plath born?

She was born in Boston in the fall of 1932. Her father studied bugs and botany at Boston University.


Who did Sylvia's mother Aurelia marry?

Aurelia was a student at Boston University when she became involved with one of her professors, named Otto. Sylvia was born 10 months after they were married.


During her lifetime, how many books of poetry did Sylvia publish?

She published just one titled, "The Colossus and Other Poems," along with one novel, "The Bell Jar."


What was the name of Sylvia's husband?

Ted, it turns out, is not the kind of guy that Sylvia probably needed in her life. Their marriage ultimately caused her great anguish.


With what problem did Sylvia struggle with for most of her life?

Sylvia was extremely depressed for much of her life. She survived more than one suicide attempt.


How old was Sylvia when her father died?

She was 8 years old when complications from diabetes killed him. His untimely death (and his strict discipline) left lasting marks on his daughter's psyche.


Plath was a good student.

Sylvia was a fantastic student who graduated with honors in spite of her emotional difficulties.


How did Sylvia behave when she attended Cambridge University in England in the mid-1950s?

Sylvia was outgoing and expressive. She wore fashionable clothes and even posed in a swimsuit for the university newspaper.


In what year did Sylvia first have her work published in a national publication?

"Christian Science Monitor" published one of her poems in 1950, when she was just 18 years old.


Why did Plath name her single novel "The Bell Jar"?

She often felt as if she was trapped under a bell jar, unable to catch her breath.


During her college years, Sylvia became a guest editor at which magazine?

She felt very fortunate at first to became a guest editor for "Mademoiselle," but in some ways the experience was more limiting than enlightening.


What was the pseudonym that Plath used to write "The Bell Jar"?

She used the name Victoria Lucas. The critics who bothered to read the book were less than impressed.


After they married, Sylvia and her husband often enjoyed exploring which topic?

Both of them were keenly interested in the supernatural. They played with Ouija boards and delved into astrology.


During her college years, how did doctors try to treat Sylvia's depression?

They attempted to help her using electroshock therapy. Unfortunately for Sylvia, her depression didn't permanently lift.


Plath attempted suicide multiple times. When did doctors first record a suicide attempt in their medical history for Sylvia?

Sylvia was 21 in 1953 when she gulped some of her mother's sleeping pills in an attempt to end her life.


After overdosing on sleeping pills and hiding under her mother's house, how long was it before someone found Sylvia?

Three days passed before she was found. She recalled the blackout experience as being pleasant, a temporary escape from the dark depression.


For how long was she in constant psychiatric treatment after her sleeping pill suicide attempt?

For half a year, doctors watched over her progress in hopes of preventing a relapse into suicidal behavior.


Plath applied for a renowned writing program … and was rejected. Which writing program was it?

She applied for Harvard's writing program but was deemed unsuitable. This came at a very low time in Sylvia's life.


What is the name of Plath's best-known book of poetry?

"Ariel" is her best-known collection, and it was published two years after she died. Many of the poems were written during the last couple of months of her life.


What job did Sylvia take at Massachusetts General Hospital in 1958?

When she and her husband moved to Boston, Sylvia decided to take a receptionist job … in the psychiatric unit of the hospital.


How many children did Sylvia have with her husband?

She had two kids, Frieda and Nicholas. She also had at least one miscarriage, which deeply affected her.


In the early 1960s, Sylvia's husband began to keep which creatures around their home?

Ted began working with bees, which is why the little bugs began appearing in Sylvia's poems.


How did Sylvia attempt to commit suicide in June 1962?

She was involved in a car accident that she later admitted was a thinly veiled suicide attempt.


How did Sylvia Plath die?

In the end, Plath couldn’t fight off the dark demons of depression. She killed herself in 1963.


For how long was Sylvia alive following the publication of her novel, "The Bell Jar"?

Her novel was published in the UK … and one month later Sylvia was dead.


How many times did Ted Hughes marry during his lifetime?

He married three times, and two of his wives killed themselves. The last wife (who didn't commit suicide) was two decades younger than him.


How did Plath finally commit suicide?

Sylvia killed herself by turning on the gas oven and then sticking her head inside. She left a note instructing a neighbor to call the doctor.


In the early 1960s, Ted had an affair with another woman and ultimately married her. What was her name?

Like so many other women, Assia was drawn by Ted's charisma. After they married, she killed herself, along with the couple's four-year-old daughter. She killed herself the same way as Sylvia … by sealing the house and leaving the gas stove turned on.


What year did Plath win the Pulitzer Prize for poetry?

She won the prestigious prize in 1982, nearly 20 years after her death. She was the first poet to be awarded the prize posthumously.


For what volume did Plath win the Pulitzer Prize for poetry?

She won the prize for "The Collected Poems," which was published in 1981. This collection features the advanced, mature poetry that Plath wrote during the final years of her life.


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