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The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (Harper & Row)

Contributed by Roland Smithies on Nov 10th, 2019. Artwork published in .
    The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (Harper & Row) 1
    Private Collection / Penrodas. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Jacket of the 1971 US first edition published by Harper & Row, New York.

    The Bell Jar is the only novel by Sylvia Plath first published in the UK in 1963 under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas, a month before the author committed suicide. It is about a young woman called Esther Greenwood and her descent into mental illness. She describing her depression as like being trapped under a bell jar.

    The novel was not published under Sylvia Plath’s real name until 1966 and the US publication was delayed until 1971 in line with her husband and mother’s wishes.

    The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (Harper & Row) 2
    Source: https://www.abebooks.com Rare Book Cellar. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Typefaces

    • Davida
    • Copperplate Gothic

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    1 Comment on “The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (Harper & Row)”

    1. Nov 10th, 2019  10:07 pm

      Thank you for this addition, Roland!

      “The Harper & Row edition is overdue, but very welcome and handsomely done. It has one of the best jacket designs (by Amy Isbey Duevell) I have ever seen.” — Robert Scholes in his review for the New York Times, April 11, 1971.

      Davida appears to have become the inofficial Bell Jar typeface. Duevell’s choice was picked up by Bantam Books for their mid-1970s paperback edition (as well as for another book by Plath), which was previously posted to Fonts In Use.

      As Roland has pointed out, Davida is also used on the cover of the Perennial Classics edition (HarperPerennial, 2000, design by Marc Cohen). The hatched pink letters seem to be traced directly from the 1971 cover shown above, see the relative position of the stacked letters, and especially the warped R. By contrast, their 2005 trade paperback edition (designer unknown) shows a resetting, using a digitization of Davida.

      HarperPerennial, 2000, design by Marc Cohen.

      HarperPerennial, 2005, designer unknown.

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