'Rose & Percy Key' by Sylvia Plath


This series of journal entries entitled ‘Rose & Percy Key’ was written by Sylvia Plath in 1962. At this time, Plath was living in North Tawton, Devon, with her husband Ted Hughes and their daughter Frieda. The entries record Plath and Hughes’s acquaintanceship with their neighbours Mr and Mrs Key, describing different episodes from the day they met until the death of Percy Key.

Plath’s detached tone when writing about the illness and death of her neighbour is sometimes startling. Like many other writers, Plath drew inspiration from the people and locations around her, and she probably conceived of the entries about her neighbours partly as a writing exercise. As can be seen from the drafts, Plath typed and edited the entries as if they were one of her short stories.


Percy Key’s death also inspired the sequence of poems entitled ‘Berck-Plage’. Indeed some lines from these poems are taken almost verbatim from her journal entries.

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Sylvia Plath original material
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Sylvia Plath
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© Estate of Sylvia Plath. No copying, republication or modification is allowed for material © The Plath Estate. For further use of this material please seek formal permission from the copyright holder.

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British Library
Add MS 88918/133

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