Sylvia Plath's energetic imagination is the focus of this guide. It seeks to place her work in the context of her life and times, without losing sight of the words on the page, the encounter of reader and text. Plath's poetry is usually labelled "confessional": does the label do justice to it? Through close discussion of key poems, Robyn Marsack explores Plath's use of autobiography and myth, of women's experience as daughters, wives and mothers; her controversial personalization of 20th-century history; her startling perception of sickness; her dedication to and despair of her art of words. Dying just as the women's movement got underway, Plath has been the object of intense feminist scrutiny: this guide profits from feminist insights, and from the different perspectives offered by British and American critics on one of the major women poets of the century.