Sylvia Plath was born in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts in 1932. Although best known as a poet, she also wrote a semi-autobiographical novel The Bell Jar, in which the main character, Esther Greenwood, a bright college student interning at a fashion magazine, suffers a mental breakdown and attempts suicide. Plath, like Esther, attended Smith College and was awarded an internship at a magazine in New York, however, it was just after this experience that Plath made her first suicide attempt and was committed to a mental institution.
On leaving the institution Plath graduated from Smith and obtained a scholarship to Cambridge University in England where she met and later married poet Ted Hughes. In 1960 Plath published her first collection of poetry, the remaining volumes of her work being published posthumously following a successful suicide attempt in 1963.