The Bell Jar

bell jar cover image The Bell Jar

Sylvia Plath
General Fiction
Harper Perennial

The Bell Jar, first published in the UK in 1963, was Sylvia Plath's only novel. It chronicles the dark descent of Esther Greenwood whose beauty, brilliance and talent are progressively eroded into a deep depression. The novel is semi-autobiographical drawing on the parallel experience of Plath's own life prior to her suicide which occurred just a month after its first publication. As she wrote to her mother (who held up US publication for some 8 years until 1971) - "What I've done is to throw together events from my own life, fictionalising to add colour- it's a pot boiler really, but I think it will show how isolated a person feels when he is suffering a breakdown.... I've tried to picture my world and the people in it as seen through the distorting lens of a bell jar". Plath's sketch of the Cornucopia harbor (noted above) is included in some editions of The Bell Jar.