Sylvia Plath was the child of Otto Emil Plath and Aurelia Schober Plath.
Otto Emil Plath:
Otto was born on April 13, 1885, in the Polish Corridor in a town called Grabow. At the age of 16, Otto joined his grandparents in the United States, specifically in Wisconsin, on a small farm. However, Otto traveled to New York City for a year, where he spent a great deal of time working hard in school to master the English language, as well as preparing himself for university. Unfortunately for Otto, his plans did not match up to his grandparents. They had wanted him to become apart of the Lutheran ministry, but Otto did not agree with some of the teachings. So, he went against them, which caused them to cut him off. Otto ultimately became a Professor in Entomology (specific study: bees).
Otto taught for some years as a German professor and eventually married a woman named Lydia. However, the marriage did not work out. He was separated twelve to thirteen years from his wife when he met Aurelia Schober. The two met when Aurelia was taking Otto’s German class at Boston University.
Aurelia Schober was born on April 26, 1908, in Boston, Massachusetts. Her family had immigrated in the 1800s from Austria. Following her family’s expectations, Aurelia became a teacher (she got her degree at Boston University). After working for a few years, she decided to return to Boston University to receive her Master’s, which is when she met Otto, who became her academic advisor and thesis reader. For that period, their relationship was nothing more than student-professor.
Despite the constraints of a student-professor relationship, after a spring semester, Otto invited Aurelia with him to a friend’s house for the weekend. After this, the two exchanged correspondence for the summer. Eventually, the two “officially” became a couple. Otto and Aurelia were together for two years before marrying in January of 1932 in Carson City, Nevada after Otto had gone to Reno to receive a divorce from his first wife.
Birth of Sylvia Plath:
Roughly nine to ten months after marrying, Aurelia gave birth to Sylvia on October 27, 1932, in Robinson Memorial Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. At the time of Sylvia’s birth, the family was living in Jamaica Plains in Boston, but Sylvia spent a great deal of time at her grandparent’s home in Winthrop, Massachusetts. Known at Ocean 1212-W (the phone number of the house, as well as the title of an essay Sylvia wrote), the house was a safe zone for Sylvia, especially when her brother arrived on the scene in 1935. Sylvia was not particularly happy about having a brother. She stated she “hated babies” and did not like the idea of becoming a “bystander” in the family.
As a child, Sylvia liked to do a significant number of things. She took art classes at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. She loved to garden and had a vivid imagination when it came to the sea, believing in mermaids and the power of the ocean.
When Sylvia started school, she was an excellent student. It was early on that Sylvia learned, especially from her mother, the importance of being the best, not merely doing things because you love them. Sylvia certainly took this to heart because she grew up a straight-A student, and she started school at the age of four at Sunshine School, a private elementary school. Once it and realized that she was effortlessly excelling, Aurelia thought it was okay for her to attend public school, where she then went to Annie F. Warren Grammar School. Early in her life, though, when she was eight, her father passed away. Since the time of Warren’s birth is 1935 he had been ill, but always refused to go to a doctor. By the time he did in 1940, it had turned out that he had advanced diabetes, causing the loss of one of his legs and a year after his life. It hit Sylvia’s hard- feelings of abandonment and then the fear of losing her mother.
where it started as a poet:
Shortly after her father’s death, Aurelia went back to work to support the family, and at this point, Sylvia’s grandparents moved in. The family has now moved away from the sea that Sylvia loved, moving to Wellesley. However, Sylvia managed to pull through. She went to Marshall Livingston Grammar School and then she moved on to Alice L. Phillips Junior High and then Bradford High School where she got almost perfect grades. Along with excellent school work and excelled with drawing, reading, and playing the piano- but it was Sylvia’s writing that took off during this time. She wrote extensively in her diary, fiction, poetry, getting published in magazines such as the Boston Herald and Phillipian.