The Bell Jar is an autobiographical novel that conforms closely to the events of the author’s life. Sylvia Plath was born to Otto and Aurelia Plath in 1932 and spent her early childhood in the seaport town of Winthrop, Massachusetts. Otto Plath died when Plath was eight years old, and she moved with her mother, younger brother, and maternal grandparents to Wellesley, an inland suburb of Boston. Plath excelled in school and developed a strong interest in writing and drawing. In 1950, she won a scholarship to attend Smith College, where she majored in English. The Bell Jar recounts, in slightly fictionalized form, the events of the summer and autumn after Plath’s junior year. Like Esther, the protagonist of The Bell Jar, Plath was invited to serve as guest editor for a woman’s magazine in New York.
The Bell Jar does not label its protagonist’s life as either martyred or heroic. Plath does not attribute Esther’s instability to men, society, or Esther herself, although she does criticize all three.
The Bell Jar was written by Sylvia Plath. It was published in 1963.