Immediately following her death, Sylvia Plath was viewed as a gifted, but minor poet. Her poetry was overshadowed by the poetry of her husband, Ted Hughes.
Plath died by her own hand in London. Subsequently a friend and fellow-poet, Al Alvarez, included a personal account of her final illness, as well as of his own unconnected suicidal attempt, in The Savage God: a Study of Suicide.
Her first suicide attempt was by swallowing sleeping pills. After a period of recovery involving electroshock and psychotherapy Plath resumed her pursuit of academic and literary success.
Friends who at this time helped with the care of her two small children later described her as overwrought, ‘hysterical’ and intensely preoccupied with the breakdown of her marriage prior to her suicide. She suffered badly from insomnia and early waking, relying on a hypnotic to get to sleep.
"After Nicholas's [her son] birth in January 1962, Sylvia faced the fact of Hughes's infidelity, expressing herself through increasingly angry--and powerful--poems. In contrast to such work as 'The Rabbit Catcher' and 'The Detective,' her radio play for the BBC, 'Three Women," is a beautifully wrought, somber poem about maternal choice."
As a senior in college, she wrote an honors thesis on Dostoyevski's use of the double and graduated summa cum laude in English. She also won a Fulbright fellowship to study at Newnham College, Cambridge.
While at college Plath went through a deep depression. She attempted suicide, but she managed to graduate summa cum laude in shortly after.
Plath was a model daughter, popular in school, earned straight A's, and won the best prizes. By the time she entered Smith College on a scholarship in 1950 she already had an impressive list of publications.
When Sylvia was eight years old, her father died as a result of complications from diabetes. He had been a strict father, and his death drastically defined her relationships and her poems—most notably in "Daddy."
Plath skyrocketed to fame after her work was seen by feminist critics following her death. They were drawn to the anger contained within her work.