LIKE MANY YOUNG, ASPIRING WRITERS, Rebecca Brill was obsessed with Sylvia Plath’s diaries. Their luminous, sensual, and often dramatic prose charts the ups and downs of Plath’s internal state with a serious attention that young women’s feelings rarely receive. So when the pandemic lockdown began in 2020, Brill, in the grip of a depression brought on by quarantine isolation, turned back to the diaries. “I needed company,” she says.
At the time, Brill was a soon-to-be MFA graduate at the University of Minnesota, and interested in the intimate lives of female writers. Since 2018, she had run an account tweeting out a different daily passage from Susan Sontag’s diaries. In contrast to the writer’s assertive, public-facing personality, Sontag’s diaries depict a woman who struggled with insecurity and loneliness. The aloof writer became someone Brill could relate to.
When Brill revisited Plath’s diaries, she noticed a contrast between the author’s public reputation and her private thoughts, much like what she found with Sontag. The discrepancy centered on one topic. “What really jumped out to me is how much she likes food,” says Brill. “Nearly every journal entry talked about what she’d cooked and eaten.” Upon reading Plath’s letters, she found the same trend.
Brill has tweeted out a meal from Plath’s writings once a day ever since. Every Sunday, her collaborator, Lily Gibbs Taylor, illustrates one of the tweets.
Read more at Atlas Obscura. Featured image: Reina Gattuso for Atlas Obscura.