20 June 2017

Lameyer mss (Lilly Library): Dates and locations of Sylvia Plath slides and photographs

Back in the infancy of this blog, I posted on the Gordon Ames Lameyer mss at the Lilly Library, Indiana University at Bloomington. Since that time in June 2007, I have made several trips back to the Lilly to re-work with the materials. Each archival visit brings a different focus, a different level of importance, and a different and changing meaning and understanding of the materials contained in each library, box, and folder. In March of 2015, I spent four days at the Lilly doing intense research on for the Letters of Sylvia Plath. As is usually, I called for the Lameyer mss to look at the original letters, and as well to look again at the amazingly vibrant slides and photographs held in the collection.

That got me started thinking about the possibility of dating them, to better understand some of the times that Plath spent with Lameyer in various locations in Massachusetts, as well as Paris, Venice, and Rome. The finding aid indicates that there are 21 slides plus additional twenty printed photographs. Some of the printed photographs are from the slides, so the actual number of images is fewer than the 41 indicated by the finding aid. I have, to the best of my ability, been able to date each photograph using a variety of sources but mostly relying Plath's pocket calendars.

For the longest time, some of the photographs struck me as being odd. Then it hit me that the photographs or the slides were printed in reverse. The result was "Parting Ways with Sylvia Plath", a blog post that appeared in 2013. There are some doubting Thomases out there about this research, but on looking at the original photographs as well as high resolution scans, and conducting a little more research into Plath and Lameyer, I can state unequivocally that many of the photographs were printed or developed in reverse. The evidence being that in one photograph taken at Chatham, Massachusetts, you can see Gordon Lameyer's wristwatch. In the print image it appears on his right hand. However, his widow confirmed in an email my suspicion that, being right handed, Lameyer wore his watch on his left hand. The same is true of a photograph of Plath where you can see her wrist watch: in the printed image it appears on her right hand but she, in fact, wore her watch on her left hand as well.

The slides and photographs in the Lameyer mss have been scanned by the ace digitization guru's at the Lilly Library. Their name scheme is lameyer_00001, lameyer_00002, and so on up to lameyer_00032 (at the present time). Using this naming scheme, I have added a brief description of the slide and/or photograph, as well as a circa or precise date and location in the list below and what format the 'thing' is in: slide only, printed photograph only, or slide and printed photograph.

The 21 slides are represented by the numbers lameyer_00001-lameyer_00021. There are eleven additional scans of photographs represented by the numbers lameyer_00022-lameyer_00032. One of the photographs (lameyer_00022) has it's recto and verso scanned (lameyer_00023). There are 10 photographs printed from the slides as well which rounds out the collection.

The remaining images are listed in a separate list afterwards. Unless otherwise stated, photographs are in color.

lameyer_00001:
Sylvia Plath in white bathing suit on the beach,
circa 24 July 1954, Chatham, Massachusetts.
Slide and printed photograph

lameyer_00002:
Sylvia Plath and Gordon Lameyer on the beach,
circa 24 July 1954, Chatham, Massachusetts.
Slide and printed photograph

lameyer_00003:
Sylvia Plath in white bathing suit standing with ocean in background,
circa 24 July 1954, Chatham, Massachusetts.
Slide and printed photograph

lameyer_00004:
Sylvia Plath in white bathing suit laying on her left side on beach,
circa 24 July 1954, Chatham, Massachusetts.
Slide and printed photograph

lameyer_00005:
Sylvia Plath in white bathing suit on beach with left hand on beach towel,
circa 24 July 1954, Chatham, Massachusetts.
Slide only

lameyer_00006:
Gordon Lameyer and Sylvia Plath on the beach, SP looking at GL,
circa 24 July 1954, Chatham, Massachusetts.
Slide and printed photograph

lameyer_00007:
Sylvia Plath in red vest and white shirt with back against a tree,
probably Fall 1954, Northampton, Massachusetts.
Slide only

lameyer_00008:
Sylvia Plath in red vest and white shirt, left arm extended, with President's House, Smith College in background,
probably Fall 1954, Northampton, Massachusetts.
Slide only

lameyer_00009:
Sylvia Plath seated reading holding a dandelion puff with birch trees behind her,
29 August 1954, Wellesley, Massachusetts.
Slide only

lameyer_00010:
Sylvia Plath in profile, seated, holding a dandelion puff,
29 August 1954, Wellesley, Massachusetts.
Slide and printed photograph

lameyer_00011:
Sylvia Plath on the beach in white bathing suit with blue detailing looking out to sea holding three chocolate chip cookies,
circa 19-23 June 1955, Ipswich, Massachusetts.
Slide only

lameyer_00012:
Sylvia Plath standing on the beach in white bathing suit with blue detailing looking down,
circa 19-23 June 1955, Ipswich, Massachusetts.
Slide and printed photograph

lameyer_00013:
Gordon Lameyer and Sylvia Plath on the beach, SP's head against GL's left shoulder,
circa 19-23 June 1955, Ipswich, Massachusetts.
Slide and printed photograph

lameyer_00014:
Sylvia Plath on bea
ch in blue patterned bathing suit reading 25 June 1955 issue of The New Yorker,
circa 19-23 June 1955, Ipswich, Massachusetts.
Slide only

lameyer_00015:
Sylvia Plath in blue patterned bathing suit lying on beach towel,
circa 19-23 June 1955, Ipswich, Massachusetts.
Slide and printed photograph

lameyer_00016:
Sylvia Plath walking in front of Notre Dame Cathedral,
5 April 1956, Paris, France.
Slide only

lameyer_00017:
Sylvia Plath standing in front of parked cars near entrance to Notre Dame Cathedral,
5 April 1956, Paris, France.
Slide only

lameyer_00018:
Sylvia Plath and Gordon Lameyer on gondola,
8 April 1956, Grand Canal, Venice, Italy.
Slide only

lameyer_00019:
Sylvia Plath on gondola,
8 April 1956, Grand Canal, Venice, Italy.
Slide only

lameyer_00020:
Sylvia Plath atop Torre dell'Orologio,
8 April 1956, Piazza San Marco, Venice, Italy.
Slide only

lameyer_00021:
Sylvia Plath seated on basin of Fontana Muta, Rampa Caffarelli,
10 April, 1956, Rome, Italy.
Slide only

lameyer_00022:
Sylvia Plath standing next to open passenger side of car,
circa 3 July 1954, Newport, Rhode Island, (black and white).
Printed photograph only

lameyer_00023:
Verso of previous photograph with caption "Sylvia at Newport",
circa 3 July 1954, Newport, Rhode Island.
Printed photograph only

lameyer_00024:
Sylvia Plath in red vest and white shirt seated on hillside,
probably Fall 1954, Northampton, Massachusetts.
Printed photograph only

lameyer_00025:
Sylvia Plath in blue pattern blouse seated on ground with books,
1 October 1954, Northampton, Massachusetts.
Printed photograph only

lameyer_00026:
Sylvia Plath in blue pattern blouse with left arm extended by Paradise Pond waterfall,
1 October 1954, Northampton, Massachusetts.
Printed photograph only

lameyer_00027:
Sylvia Plath in white bathing suit with blue detailing lying on beach towel,
circa 19-23 June 1955, Ipswich, Massachusetts.
Printed photograph only

lameyer_00028:
Sylvia Plath in white bathing suit with blue detailing lying on beach towel, neck slighting shifted to the right,
circa 19-23 June 1955, Ipswich, Massachusetts.
Printed photograph only

lameyer_00029:
Gordon Lameyer and Sylvia Plath at the beach, SP looking up to GL,
circa 24 July 1954, Chatham, Massachusetts.
Printed photograph only

lameyer_00030:
Sylvia Plath lying on rock in white halter,
17 July 1954, Mount Monadnock, New Hampshire.
Printed photograph only

lameyer_00031:
Sylvia Plath in white halter with 26 Elmwood Road on the right,
29 August 1954, Wellesley, Massachusetts.
Printed photograph only

lameyer_00032:
Sylvia Plath seated on rock with open book,
17 July 1954, Mount Monadnock, New Hampshire.
Printed photograph only

There are additional photographs in the Lameyer mss.
  • Photograph of SP's head pasted onto a letter dated 11 June 1954. This photograph visible in the "Dear Sylvia" manuscript by Lameyer but was no longer present when I received a photocopy of the manuscript. I am unsure where the photograph is.
  • Four black and white photographs taken during Mademoiselle guest editorship, June 1953 (possibly 1 June 1953), affixed to an undated letter, but which dates to circa 20 September 1954:
    • 1) Sylvia Plath in white formal gown (gown held by Smith College);
    • 2) Sylvia Plath seated leaning forward on a chair, with chin resting on right wrist, smiling and looking to the right, holding a rose;
    • 3) Sylvia Plath seated next to a bowl of fruit on love seat, holding a rose; and
    • 4) Sylvia Plath seated, leaning forward on a chair holding a rose, smiling and looking to the left.
  • Sylvia Plath, studio portrait, wearing white collared shirt and sweater, circa 1954-1955 (black and white); and 
  • Sylvia Plath, studio portrait, profile, circa 1955 (black and white).
All links accessed 3 December 2015 and 19 June 2017.

2 comments :

P.H.Davies said...

I know some of these photographs are in the public domain but it's surprising how many haven't been seen, some especially striking images of Plath as a young woman - are their restrictions on publication of these images? Are they likely to be seen in future works on the poet? There is also Lameyer's biography of Plath which I think was completed? (Or perhaps unfinished?) Do you know if there are there plans to publish it?

Peter K Steinberg said...

Paull! Hi there. Some are published in These Ghostly Archives and some will be in the Letters of Sylvia Plath. They are all wonderful in their own way and capture Plath in a variety of settings which is telling of her travels as well as her comfort with Lameyer and being photographed. Very often she looks so casual, relaxed, happy and enjoying herself: a far cry from the more popular image of Plath in society. There are fewer restrictions on these particular images in part because the Lameyer Estate/Lilly Library controls copyright and their is a particular leniency therefore. Any of these can be ordered, for a nominal fee, from the Lilly's digitization department. Lameyer's memoir is unpublished. It's partially his letters to Plath's and hers to him and has some connective bits of prose. It was shot down by Aurelia Plath, Ted Hughes, and certain publishers when he wrote it in the 1970s. Plath's letters to him will be in the Letters of Sylvia Plath, Volume 1. If you can't wait for that...some of them were printed in the February 1976 issue of the Smith Alumnae Quarterly.

~pks

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Publications & Acknowledgements

  • BBC Four.A Poet's Guide to Britain: Sylvia Plath. London: BBC Four, 2009. (Acknowledged in)
  • Biography: Sylvia Plath. New York: A & E Television Networks, 2005. (Photographs used)
  • Connell, Elaine. Sylvia Plath: Killing the angel in the house. 2d ed. Hebden Bridge: Pennine Pens, 1998. (Acknowledged in)
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives 3." Plath Profiles 4. Summer 2011: 119-138.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives 4: Looking for New England." Plath Profiles 5. Summer 2012: 11-56.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives 5: Reanimating the Past." Plath Profiles 6. Summer 2013: 27-62.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives, Redux." Plath Profiles 3. Summer 2010: 232-246.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives." Plath Profiles 2. Summer 2009: 183-208.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. These Ghostly Archives: The Unearthing of Sylvia Plath. Oxford: Fonthill, 2017.
  • Death Be Not Proud: The Graves of Poets. New York: Poets.org. (Photographs used)
  • Doel, Irralie, Lena Friesen and Peter K. Steinberg. "An Unacknowledged Publication by Sylvia Plath." Notes & Queries 56:3. September 2009: 428-430.
  • Elements of Literature, Third Course. Austin, Tex. : Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2009. (Photograph used)
  • Gill, Jo. "Sylvia Plath in the South West." University of Exeter Centre for South West Writing, 2008. (Photograph used)
  • Helle, Anita Plath. The Unraveling Archive: Essays on Sylvia Plath. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2007. (Photographs used, acknowledged in)
  • Helle, Anita. "Lessons from the Archive: Sylvia Plath and the Politics of Memory". Feminist Studies 31:3. Fall 2005: 631-652.. (Acknowledged in)
  • Holden, Constance. "Sad Poets' Society." Science Magazine. 27 July 2008. (Photograph used)
  • Making Trouble: Three Generations of Funny Jewish Women, Motion Picture. Directed by Rachel Talbot. Brookline (Mass.): Jewish Women's Archive, 2007. (Photograph used)
  • Plath, Sylvia, and Karen V. Kukil. The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, 1950-1962. New York: Anchor Books, 2000. (Acknowledged in)
  • Plath, Sylvia, and Peter K. Steinberg and Karen V. Kukil (eds.). The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Volume 1, 1940-1956. London: Faber, 2017. Forthcoming.
  • Plath, Sylvia. Glassklokken. Oslo: De norske Bokklubbene, 2004. (Photograph used on cover)
  • Reiff, Raychel Haugrud. Sylvia Plath: The Bell Jar and Poems (Writers and Their Works). Marshall Cavendish Children's Books, 2008.. (Images provided)
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "'A Fetish: Somehow': A Sylvia Plath Bookmark." Court Green 13. 2017.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "'I Should Be Loving This': Sylvia Plath's 'The Perfect Place' and The Bell Jar." Plath Profiles 1. Summer 2008: 253-262.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "'They Had to Call and Call': The Search for Sylvia Plath." Plath Profiles 3. Summer 2010: 106-132.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "A Perfectly Beautiful Time: Sylvia Plath at Camp Helen Storrow." Plath Profiles 4. Summer 2011: 149-166.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "Proof of Plath." Fine Books & Collections 9:2. Spring 2011: 11-12.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "Sylvia Plath." The Spoken Word: Sylvia Plath. London: British Library, 2010.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "Textual Variations in The Bell Jar Publications." Plath Profiles 5. Summer 2012.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "The Persistence of Plath." Fine Books & Collections. Autumn 2017: 24-29
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "This is a Celebration: A Festschrift for The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath." Plath Profiles 3 Supplement. Fall 2010: 3-14.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "Writing Life" [Introduction]. Sylvia Plath in Devon: A Year's Turning. Stroud, Eng.: Fonthill Media, 2014.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. Sylvia Plath (Great Writers). Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2004.

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