Proof copy of The Bell Jar found in England

Rare proof edition of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar due to be auctioned in London next week

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The proof edition of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar was kept on a spare room bookshelf for the last quarter of a century is now going to be auctioned in London next week.

Originally published under the pseudonym "Victoria Lucas" Sylvia Plath's semi- autobiographical novel The Bell Jar tells the story of a young woman's, Esther Greenwood”s descent into an emotional breakdown.

It was first published in 1963, shortly before Plath’s suicide aged 30, and it would not appear under Plath’s own name until 1966.

The edition had previously been kept in the spare room of an ex-civil servant in Wiltshire for the last 25 years.

The woman, who writes as Lucy WithaY, said in her blog “I bought this book in 1985 in Winchester, as it was required reading for my degree, used it throughout the course, and it has lived quietly in one of the my bookcases ever since.”

The uncorrected proof copy of Plath’s only novel states that it is “not for sale”.

Bonhams, a privately owned auction house, says there are more than 70 textual variations between the 1962 uncorrected proof and the final published first edition from Heinemann in 1963.

Plath expert Peter K Steinberg says “ The changes in the text are the result of edits made either by Plath herself when she reviewed the proof or by the editors as they prepared the final typesetting”

Steinberg added “It shows that Plath read her proofs of The Bell Jar very carefully. Our understanding of her involvement in the creative process beyond the composition of the work itself”

Bonhams has set a guide price on the edition of €2,800 - 4,200. Lucy WithaY said that she is hoping to use money to fund a holiday to Japan.