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Episode 1

4 Extra Debut. The story of a girl in New York with the world at her feet, whose world begins to spin out of control. Read by Lydia Wilson.

Sylvia Plath's haunting and only novel tells the story of Esther Greenwood, a talented girl with a prestigious internship on a magazine in New York in 1953.

With dreams of becoming a writer and an impressive track record of scholarships and prizes, Esther seems to have it all - and knows she should be 'having the time of her life'. But between the cocktail parties and the piles of manuscripts, unsatisfactory men and the choices ahead, she finds herself spiraling into confusion and depression. As she retreats from the world in despair, she will attempt suicide and find herself in the world of the asylum before finding a way through.

The Bell Jar is both darkly funny and acutely observed, capturing in vivid and witty prose the society Plath inhabited in the 1950s. A modern classic, it's a powerful portrait of a clever young woman with great and varied ambitions, confounded by the hurdles the world puts in her way, as relevant today as when it was written.

Sylvia Plath was born in 1932 in Boston. She studied at Smith College and Cambridge where she met and married Ted Hughes. In 1960 she published The Colossus, a collection of poems. The Bell Jar was published in 1963, under a pseudonym and is Plath's only novel. Her Collected Poems were published in 1981 and won the Pulitizer Prize for poetry. Plath died in 1963.

Read by Lydia Wilson.

Abridged in eight parts by Sally Marmion.

Producer: Di Speirs

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 Extra in February 2013.

21 days left to listen

15 minutes

Last on

Last Tuesday 02:00

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