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For immediate use

Oct. 21, 2003 -- No. 557

Wagner-Martin can help reviewers, feature writers, with movie ‘Sylvia’

Dr. Linda Wagner-Martin of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, author of three books about Sylvia Plath, is available as a resource for reporters writing about the new movie "Sylvia."

Macmillan Publishers had Wagner-Martin add new material to her 1999 book, "Sylvia Plath, A Literary Life" for release of an expanded edition this year. Wagner-Martin, the Frank Borden Hanes professor of English at UNC, wrote the first book on the writer’s life, "Sylvia Plath: A Biography (Simon & Schuster, 1987), and "Plath’s ‘The Bell Jar’: A Novel of the Fifties" (Twayne/Macmillan, 1992).

The movie, starring Gwyneth Paltrow, opened Friday (Oct. 17) in New York and Los Angeles. Wagner-Martin plans to see it when it comes to the Triangle but already has gathered information on the film. Her observations are folksy as well as factual and scholarly.

"In the pictures I’ve seen of Gwyneth Paltrow, her hair is exactly right," Wagner-Martin said, but "the actor playing Ted Hughes isn’t big enough." Wagner-Martin said the movie would have been difficult to do before the 1998 death of Hughes, Plath’s husband, because he controlled her literary estate.

Besides Plath, Wagner-Martin has written books on the writers Edith Wharton, William Carlos Williams, Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway and others. She is at work on a biography of Barbara Kingsolver due next year.

Wagner-Martin co-edited the Oxford Companion to Women’s Writing in the United States (1995) and has edited other books including titles on T.S. Eliot, Robert Frost, Joyce Carol Oates and Anne Sexton. She is also well versed on the beat writers and American writers living in Paris in the first half of the 20th century. She is serving her second three-year term as president of The Ernest Hemingway Foundation & Society.

Wagner-Martin has won two fellowships at the Rockefeller Foundation Study and Research Center in Italy and a senior fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities; four UNC teaching or mentoring awards; and the College English Association’s 1994 Teacher-Scholar Award.

Wagner-Martin may be reached at or (919) 962-8765. A profile is available at, and a previous news release at

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News Services contact: L.J. Toler, (919) 962-8589