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Mark Ford and Seamus Perry are joined by Joanna Biggs, who recently wrote about Sylvia Plath’s letters in the LRB, for the latest instalment of their sporadic series, recently described by The American Scholar as ‘an exceptionally outstanding subgenre of the podcast’. They consider the balance of biography and mythology in Plath’s work, situating her as a transatlantic, expressionist poet of the Cold War, and drawing on the LRB archive to talk about her funniness, her fuck-you-ness, her ruthless, uninhibited willingness to go anywhere to win the argument.

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Further reading in the LRB:

Gay Clifford: Learning to speak (1980)

Donald Davie: Cambridge Theatre (1982)

Anthony Thwaite: Meltdown (1989)

Elaine Showalter: Slick Chick (1991)

A letter from Karl Miller (1991)

Elaine Showalter: Going Underground (1994)

Jacqueline Rose: ‘This is not a biography’ (2002)

Joanna Biggs: I’m an intelligence (2018)

Other episodes in the series:

Auden Anxieties

Looking at Larkin

Arch Bishop

Hardy’s Neutral Tones

The Idea of Stevie


Uneven Stevens

Heaney Overheard

Lowell Studies